Happy 91st Birthday to our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew!!!
I’m truly grateful to this man for he made Singapore what it is today! This blog entry will be featuring all of Mr Lee. For those who don’t know him and wish to read more about him, here is some information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Kuan_Yew:
Lee Kuan Yew, (born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, 16 September 1923), is a Singaporean politician. He was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. He is also widely recognised as the founding father of modern Singapore.
As the co-founder and first Secretary-General of the People’s Action Party (PAP), he led the party to eight victories from 1959 to 1990, and oversaw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 and its subsequent transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources into a “First World” Asian Tiger. He is one of the most influential political figures in Asia.
Singapore’s second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, appointed him Senior Minister in 1990. He held the advisory post of Minister Mentor, created by his son Lee Hsien Loong, when the latter became the nation’s third prime minister in August 2004. With his successive ministerial positions spanning over 50 years, Lee is also one of history’s longest-serving ministers. On 14 May 2011, Lee and Goh announced their retirement from the cabinet after the 2011 general election.
Lee was born a British subject in 1923 at 92 Kampong Java Road in Singapore. According to his memoirs, Lee was first educated at Telok Kurau Primary School. He described his primary students at Telok Kurau as poor and not very bright and advantaged. He then attended Raffles Institution (RI). In RI, Lee had difficulties keeping up because he met the top 150 students from all over Singapore. He made an effort to get into the top class and joined the Scouts for three years. He also played cricket, tennis and chess. During his junior Cambridge years, he obtained several scholarships and subsequently came in top for the School Certificate examinations, obtaining the John Anderson scholarship to attend Raffles College (now National University of Singapore). Lee was the top student in Singapore and Malaya.
Lee’s university education was delayed by World War II and the 1942–1945 Japanese occupation of Singapore. During the occupation, Lee learnt Japanese and first worked as a clerk in his grandfather’s friend’s company—a textile importer called Shimoda. Lee then found work transcribing Allied wire reports for the Japanese where he listened to Allied radio stations and wrote down what they were reporting in the Hodobu office (報道部 – a Japanese propaganda department).Towards the end of the war, by listening to Allied radio stations, he realised the Japanese were going to lose, and fearing that a brutal war would break out in Singapore as the Japanese made their last stand, he made plans to purchase and move to a farm on the Cameron Highlands with his family. However, a liftboy in his office told him his file had been taken out by the security department, and he realised he was being followed by Japanese security personnel (which continued for three months), so he abandoned those plans as he knew that if he went ahead, he would be in trouble. Lee also ran his own businesses during the war to survive, among which, he manufactured stationery glue under his own brand called ‘Stikfas’.
During the occupation, Lee was asked by a Japanese guard to join a group of segregated Chinese men. Sensing that something was amiss, he asked for permission to go back home to collect his clothes first, and the Japanese guard agreed. It turned out that those who were segregated were taken to the beach to be shot as part of the Sook Ching massacre in Singapore.
After the war, Lee went on to study in England. He briefly attended the London School of Economics before moving to the University of Cambridge, where he read law at Fitzwilliam College and graduated with a rare Double Starred (double First Class Honours). (After leaving Cambridge, Lee decided to omit his English name, Harry, and simply be known as Lee Kuan Yew, although to this day, old comrades and English friends still refer to him as Harry Lee.) Lee was subsequently made an honorary fellow of Fitzwilliam College.
In England, Lee campaigned for a friend named David Widdicombe, who was in the Labour Party. He drove Widdicombe around in a lorry and delivered several speeches on his behalf. After seeing how the British had failed to defend Singapore from the Japanese, and after his stay in England, Lee decided that Singapore had to govern itself. He returned to Singapore in 1949.
Lee, in his memoirs, recounted how he has had to sing four national anthems in his lifetime: first, God Save The King when Singapore was a British colony; second, Kimigayo, the Japanese national anthem during the Japanese occupation; third, the Malaysian national anthem Negaraku, when Singapore was part of Malaysia for two years; fourth, Majulah Singapura, the current national anthem of Singapore.
Early political career – 1951 to 1959
In his memoirs, Lee recounted that he had intended to return to Singapore to work as a lawyer. Upon his return, Lee worked in John Laycock‘s law firm for $500 per month. He also worked as a legal advisor to the trade and students’ unions.
Lee’s first experience with politics in Singapore was his role as election agent for Laycock under the banner of the pro-British Progressive Party in the 1951 legislative council elections.
Formation of the PAP
On 12 November 1954, Lee, together with a group of fellow English-educated middle-class men whom he described as “beer-swilling bourgeois“, formed the ‘socialist’ People’s Action Party (PAP) in an expedient alliance with the pro-communist trade unionists. This alliance was described by Lee as a marriage of convenience, since his English-speaking group needed the Chinese-speaking pro-communists’ mass support base, while the communists needed a non-communist party leadership (PAP) as a ‘smoke-screen’, because the Malayan Communist Party was illegal.
At that time, almost 70% of Singaporeans spoke Chinese and various Chinese dialects as their native tongues. Those who spoke English as their native tongue comprised only 20% or so of the population and were therefore, a minority. Their common aim was to agitate for self-government and put an end to British colonial rule.
An inaugural conference was held at the Victoria Memorial Hall, attended by over 1,500 supporters and trade unionists. Lee became secretary-general, a post he held until 1992, save for a brief period in 1957.
Lee won the Tanjong Pagar seat in the 1955 elections. He became the opposition leader against David Saul Marshall‘s Labour Front-led coalition government. He was also one of PAP’s representatives to the two constitutional discussions held in London over the future status of Singapore, the first led by Marshall and the second by Lim Yew Hock, Marshall’s hardline successor. It was during this period that Lee had to contend with rivals from both within and outside the PAP.
Lee’s position in the PAP was seriously under threat in 1957 when pro-communists took over the leadership posts, following a party conference which the party’s left wing had stacked with fake members.Fortunately for Lee and the party’s moderate faction, Lim Yew Hock ordered a mass arrest of the pro-communists and Lee was reinstated as secretary-general. After the communist ‘scare’, Lee subsequently received a new, stronger mandate from his Tanjong Pagar constituents in a by-election in 1957. The communist threat within the party was temporarily removed as Lee prepared for the next round of elections.
During three decades in which Lee held office, Singapore grew from being a developing country to one of the most developed nations in Asia, despite its small population, limited land space and lack of natural resources. Lee has often stated that Singapore’s only natural resources are its people and their strong work ethic. He is widely respected by many Singaporeans, particularly the older generation, who remember his inspiring leadership during independence and the separation from Malaysia. Indeed, for many people in Singapore and other countries, Lee is inextricably linked with their perceptions of Singapore.
Lee has also been widely praised by other world leaders. Henry Kissinger once said that Lee was “One of the asymmetries of history”. Richard Nixon remarked that if Lee lived in another time and place, he would have attained the world stature of a Churchill, a Disraeli, or a Gladstone. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush called Lee a “remarkable leader and statesman” and “one of the brightest and most effective world leaders that I have ever known” respectively during the launch of his book, “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher praised “his way of penetrating the fog of propaganda and expressing with unique clarity the issues of our time and the way to tackle them.” Her successor, Tony Blair, said of Lee: he is “the smartest leader I ever met.”
Resources from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Kuan_Yew