Remember the concern in Korea (1.28) and Japan (1.37) about fertility rate? Singapore is 0.78!
Anyway, I mentioned Mauritius above. Here is another excerpt from this blog site almost five year ago:
New York Times article by Seth Mydans (hope this is his photo) said it well (direct quotes are italicized):
- He worked as a translator and engaged in black market trading during the Japanese occupation in World War II, then went to Britain, where he earned a law degree in 1949 from Cambridge University.
- Was prime minister from 1959 when independence was gained from Malaysia until 1990, but remained as Senior Minister, then Minister Mentor, the latter ordained by his son, Lee Hsien Loong, when he became prime minister in 2004. I might add that, while nepotism is rampant in Singapore for Kuan Yew, Hsien Loong was a Brigadier-General, also educated at Cambridge in math and computer science and gained a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.
- The nation reflected the man: efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward-looking and pragmatic.
- His “Singapore model” included centralized power, clean government and economic liberalism. But it was also criticized as a soft form of authoritarianism, suppressing political opposition, imposing strict limits on free speech and public assembly, and creating a climate of caution and self-censorship. The commentator Cherian George (right) described Mr. Lee’s leadership as “a unique combination of charisma and fear.” Mr. Lee was a master of so-called “Asian values,” in which the good of society takes precedence over the rights of the individual and citizens cede some autonomy in return for paternalistic rule.
- Generally passive in political affairs, Singaporeans sometimes chide themselves as being overly preoccupied with a comfortable lifestyle, which they sum up as the “Five C’s” — cash, condo, car, credit card, country club.
- Even among people who knew little of Singapore, Mr. Lee was famous for his national self-improvement campaigns, which urged people to do such things as smile, speak good English and flush the toilet, but never to spit, chew gum or throw garbage off balconies.
- Said Lee, “Nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul-de-sac,” he said in 1994. “If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society.”
- “His stature is immense,” Catherine Lim (that's her, with Lee Hsien Loong on the right), a novelist and frequent critic of Mr. Lee, said in an interview. “This man is a statesman. He is probably too big for Singapore, on a level with Tito and de Gaulle. If they had three Lee Kuan Yews in Africa, that continent wouldn’t be in such a bad state.”The cost of his success, she said, was a lack of emotional connection. “Everything goes tick-tock, tick-tock,” she said. “He is an admirable man, but, oh, people like a little bit of heart as well as head. He is all hard-wired.”