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HALL OF FAMEon February 26, 2013
Singapore has an airport like a movie set and home ownership for 95% of citizens, science and math scores higher than Japan's. Singapore's per capita GNP is now higher than that of its colonizer, Great Britain. It has the world's busiest port, is the third-largest oil refiner, the lowest cost of health care of any developed nation, and has become a major center of global manufacturing and service. In 1965 it ranked economically with Chile, Argentina and Mexico, now its per capita GNP is 4- 5X theirs, exceeding that in America. Lee was prime minister from independence in 1959 until 1990, when he allowed his hand-picked successor and now his eldest son to succeed; he's still 'Senior Minister' with enormous influence. Nixon speculated that, had Lee lived in another time and another place, he might have 'attained the world stature of a Churchill, a Disraeli, or a Gladstone.'

On America, Lee likes the free and open argument about what is good or bad for society, and none of the secrecy and terror that's part of communist government. He also sees the focus on individual freedom as creating its leadership in innovation. Other parts are totally unacceptable - guns, drugs, violent crime, vagrancy, unbecoming behavior in public, symptoms of the breakdown of civil society. Freedom to have maximum enjoyment of one's freedoms can only exist in an ordered state - not contention and anarchy.

America has a vicious drug problem. To solve it, it goes around the world helping other anti-narcotic agencies try and stop the suppliers. And when provoked, its captures the president of Panama and puts him on trial. In Singapore, any policeman who sees someone behaving suspiciously leading him to suspect the person is under the influence of drugs can require that person to have his urine tested. If it contains drugs, the man immediately goes for treatment. Unmentioned by Lee is the added fact that Singapore executes drug dealers. (Singapore also has one of the lowest crime rates in the world - chewing gum is banned because of the messes created.)

If we did not have the good points of the West to guide us, we wouldn't have gotten out of our backwardness. But we don't want all of the West. Lee also says he admired America more 25 years ago. Liberal, intellectual thinking after WWII supported everyone being allowed to do their own thing. There is such a thing as evil, and it is not the result of being a victim of society. Westerners have abandoned an ethical basis for society, believing that all problems are solvable by a good government - we in the East never believed that. He's concerned about the focus on individual rights, not paired with individual responsibility, in America, that sociologists have convinced Americans that failure isn't their fault but that of the economic system, that charity has become an entitlement without any stigma, and the growth of entitle costs creating huge debts for future generations.

In the East, the government does not try to provide for a person what the family best provides. In the West, government has become seen as able to fulfill those obligations - eg. provide the support to make up for the absent father. A Chinese aphorism is appropriate - 'Look after yourself, cultivate yourself, do everything to make yourself useful, look after your country.' We start with self-reliance, in the West today it is the opposite.

Conversely, Lee is more confident in the government's ability to promote economic growth and technological advancement. It starts with a good education, buttressed by strong values of self-responsibility.

America makes the hopeful assumption that all men are equal, that people all over the world are the same. They are not. Genetics and history interact, and they are different, especially in their neurological development and cultural values. Americans gloss over these issues because it is politically incorrect to study them. This leads to social policies embarked upon with great enthusiasm but with meager results. (Lee also adds that he started off believing all men were equal, but now knows that's the most unlikely thing ever to have been.) The Bell curve is a fact of life - blacks on average score 85% on IQ and has nothing to do with culture, whites score on average 100, Asians score higher, by at least 10 points.

Chinese leaders are serious about displacing the U.S. as the #1 power in Asia and want to share this century as co-equals with the U.S. China sees overall GDP, not GDP/capita, as what matters in international standing. It does not want to be an honorary member of the West. Other nations, especially neighbors, know there will be consequences if they thwart China's core interests. The mistake of Germany and Japan was their effort to challenge the existing order - the Chinese have avoided this mistake. They've calculated they need maybe 50 years of peace and quiet to catch up. The Russian mistake was that they put so much into military expenditure, so their economy collapsed. Lee's worry is that existing generation has been through the anti-Japanese war, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four and know the pitfalls. However, they are inculcating enormous pride and patriotism in the young, and it is volatile.

The government of China will change, but it will not end up like Western systems. Cheap and available technology and migration to the cities require that China remain pragmatic, keep tight security control, while easing up and give more local authority. The biggest single fear China's leaders have is the corrosive effect of graft. If China became a liberal democracy it would collapse. To ask China to become a democracy, when in its 5,000 years of recorded history it never counted heads; if you disagreed you chop off heads, not count heads. Lee does predict comprehensive legal codes by 2035, with a stable legal system.

China will find it difficult recruiting outside talent unless it makes English the dominant language, as Singapore has. Chinese is a very difficult language to learn - one can learn conversational Chinese after a few years, but it is very difficult to be able to read quickly. (Lee speaks both English and Mandarin.)

Brazil has put aside an area as big as Massachusetts to grow soybeans for China.

The Chinese are very conscious of being encircled by allies of the U.S. But they are also good at countering those moves - South Korea has the largest number of foreign students in China, and they see their future in China. The only Asian country that's openly on America's side is Japan - the others are either neutral or pro-China.

North Korea's leaders believe their survival depends upon having at least one nuclear bomb - otherwise they will collapse and the leaders will be put on trial. The Chinese could stop them by denying food and fuel so they would implode. But that would bring the South into the North, and the Americans to the Yalu River. So the North Koreans know this won't happen.

Lee does not believe democracy necessarily leads to development. In multiracial societies, people don't vote in accordance with their economic and social interests, rather in accordance with race and religion. Lee's solution has been to turn Singapore into a one-party state, while running a meritocracy. The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions inimical to development; further, diverse opinions and competing ideas doesn't guarantee you will succeed. He does not believe that Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Singapore could have succeeded if they had to work under an American-type constitution where gridlock exists on every major issue.

The U.S. has not functioned for the U.S. since the Vietnam War and the great Society. Those who prevail in American elections are not necessarily those most capable in governing, but those who can present themselves and ideas 'in a polished way. To beat your opponent in the next election, you have to promise to give more away.'

He also criticizes U.S. immigration practices, declaring 'multiculturalism will destroy America.' The key question, per Lee, is will 'you make Hispanics Anglo-Saxons in culture or will they make you more Latin American?'

Singapore is still one-man, one-vote, but Lee believes it would be better if every man over the age of 40 with a family had two votes because he's likely to be more careful. At 60 they should go back to one vote. Nonetheless, Lee also says polling shows a weakness of mind - if you can't force or are unwilling to force your people to follow, you are not a leader.

On the topic of change, Lee advises 'make haste slowly.' Nobody likes to lose his ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic identity. On the other hand, you cannot have many distinct components and be one nation. If you want complete separateness you should not come to live in the host country. There are some circumstances best left alone - eg. Muslims are extremely sensitive about their customs, especially diet; in such matters one has to find a middle path.
The people and governments of East Asia have learned that the more they engage in wars and conflict, the poorer and more desperate they become.

'We were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came, and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration - friends, inter-marriages and so on - than Muslims... I would say, today, we can integrate all religions and races, except Islam.' He sees Confucianism, Hinduism, Shintoism as secular and knowing that to progress you must master science and technology; Muslims, however, believe that if they master the Koran and do all it prescribes, they will succeed.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of Islamic terrorism, rather a sense (especially in the Middle East) that the West has put them down for too long. Because globalization is largely U.S.-led and driven, militant Islam identifies America as the threat. America's support of Israel aggravates their sense of threat, but terrorism would continue even if the Middle East problem was solved.

China is a vast, disparate country - there is no alternative to strong central power. It will want to share this century as co-equals with the U.S.

As for Japan, allowing it to send forces abroad is like giving liquor to an alcoholic - whatever they do they carry to the nth degree, and they know this. Lee blames Saudi Arabia for encouraging Islamist extremism by financing mosques and religious schools worldwide that spread an austere version of Wahhabist Islam.'

Lee's heroes include Winston Churchill and Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who turned China around beginning in 1979, despite holding a weak hand at the start.
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on February 23, 2013
I am a student with a casual interest in emerging international markets such as those of China, India and Singapore. I purchased this book hoping to learn something useful pertaining to that area. This book is a compilation of Lee Kuan Yew's (henceforth LKY) thoughts pertaining to 9 topics: the future of China, the United States, US-China relations, India, Islamic Extremism, National Economic Growth, Geopolitics and Globalization, and Democracy.The final topic is "How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks."

This book's strengths are numerous. LKY is a personally interesting man with a lot of valuable experience leading Singapore. He has an unusual perspective, as Singapore's Prime Minister for 31 years. The topics chosen are generally of broad interest, such as the future of India, China, the US, etc. He also has a different perspective on the usefulness of democracy, which as an American reader I found interesting.

That being said, when this book misses, it really misses. For example, take this statement about the future of the US: "Multiculturalism will destroy America. There is a danger that large numbers of Mexicans and others from South and Central America will continue to come to the U.S. and spread their culture across the whole of the country. If they breed faster than the WASPs [white Anglo-Saxon Protestants] and are living with them, whose culture will prevail?" This view, that large numbers of lazy immigrants are going to change American culture to one of dependency, is one that LKY returns to several times, and I do not find it to be credible. However, because this book is just a compilation of quotes, it is of course impossible for him to defend his assertions. There is nothing for the reader to do except keep going.

In addition, the quotes in this book vary widely in time frame. While the book flows as well as can be expected for a book of quotes, having 30-year-old insights next to comments made one month ago made me uncomfortable. Let us take an assertion like "[Radical Islam is a] new situation, never faced before in the history of civilization." The reader must determine from the footnotes whether that statement was made in 1970, or on September 12 2001, or in 2012 after more than a decade of US presence in Afghanistan. There is no context, only quote after quote.

In short, this book states the opinions of an interesting man, but the format leaves no room for evidence-based argument and that severely limits the book's usefulness. I find it difficult to recommend very highly.
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on May 1, 2013
Read this book in literally one evening before going to sleep. This man is truly a Grand Master. His insights into just about everything are so amazingly simple that most people do not realize it. It would be very smart for our politicians to read this book and heed his advice.
It is amazing how America and China have truly changed their thinking about their countries and their way of lift. We have literally switched place when running our countries as witnessed by our economies, although the USA really doesn't have an economy anymore. Our president gives no thought to our economy as we tumble down the black abyss. Meanwhile China is soaring. Their are many solid reasons why this is happening and Lee Kuan Yew points this out to us as well as how to get back on track. For Anyone interested in our country rebounding back to where America once was this is without a doubt a MUST READ!!!!!
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VINE VOICEon June 29, 2015
I'm always in the market for more LKY. The problem with this book is simple: it is written like an interview where the late Minister Mentor answers topics of interest to policy types. The actual fact of the matter is, these are a bunch of out of context quotes taken from the public record and other books, stitched together out of order by the listed "editors" and presented to the reader as something it isn't.
Many of the quotes don't make sense as they are stitched together, as they were taken from things LKY said in different decades (a quick skim turns up 45 year gaps between sentences) in vastly different context. LKY seems to contradict himself at times ... because he says one thing in the 1960s, and another thing in 2011. This is, to put it mildly, preposterous. While it is genuine LKY for a sentence or two, you could pretty much make the man say anything you want with this type of editorial control. Sure, there are footnotes showing where the original statement was made, but most people won't notice them. The quotes on Iran seem particularly out of context. That issue was one which didn't come up often with LKY.
I'm not asserting malevolence in the editorial decisions, though it wouldn't surprise me
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on April 2, 2015
Years ago, after making some money, I thought, Why am I living in a cesspool like Detroit? Coincidentally, I began reading a long article about Singapore, which seemed like the antithesis of Detroit, so I subsequently vacationed there for two weeks with the intent of eventually emigrating, because Singapore seemed like paradise to me. Everything was clean (not one fly or mosquito), modern and pleasant, but it was nothing like the police state the American press had led me to expect. Good beer was sold outdoors on every street corner, and on the weekend there was dancing in the streets downtown. I felt safe at all times and in every neighborhood, and I observed the police in easy conversation with residents of the neighborhood they served. Most American periodicals were available at the Singapore newsstands.

One of my conceits is that I know some history, but I can think of no precedent of a national transformation like that of Singapore. Within one generation, per capita income there rose from $400 a year to $50,000. Credit for this utopia must go to the late Lee Kuan Yew, so he is certainly someone worth listening to. Unfortunately, this is not the book of Lee's wisdom that it is touted to be. Most of the quotations from Lee are from speeches he made or recorded interviews, while very few are from Lee's writing, and imagine how wise the smartest person you know might sound if his or her ordinary conversation were recorded and transcribed.

Addressing a general audience requires basic ideas drawn in broad strokes, so in the pages of this book Lee, at times, seems to dispense wisdom on a level with that of Polonius:
"Technology and innovation have become more important factors for economic success." (Taken from a speech to the Chamber of Commerce Celebration dinner in 2000.)
Did you not know that?
"There is no better way to run a country than the best person for the most difficult job." (Also, how about the best person for the easiest job?)

One of the of the chapters in this book discusses one of the world's most serious problems, and its title is "The Future of Islamic Extremism." I read it expecting the wisdom of Solon, at least, but all the quotes merely repeat what we already know, "Militant terrorist groups have hijacked Islam as their driving force and have given it a virulent twist. Throughout the Muslim world, the militants are out to impose their version if Islam." And he provides an absurdly facile solution: "The U.S. and its Western allies must ensure that Islamic militancy is defeated by economic, military, and other means to clearly demonstrate to non-Arab Muslims that fanaticism and militancy have no future."
I think that can be agreed to, but what of specific actions? Should the U.S. start another war with a Muslim nation? Bomb Tehran at the behest of AIPAC? Overthrow yet another government?

Such passages likely pleased the audience when Lee spoke them, but they seem watery in a book. A far better look into the mind of this great man is the autobiographical From Third World to First: The Singapore Story - 1965-2000, which features some piquant observations.
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on August 23, 2013
if you expect to read a "new" book with new ideas from Lee, you will be greatly disappointed. this is a summary of past interviews with media Lee did prior to 2011. skip this book if you are already familiar with the man and follow him on current affairs. nonetheless, this is a fantastic snapshot of Lee's ideas on statecraft and international diplomacy.

i always enjoy Lee's analysis and his accomplishment for Singapore but he got it wrong on the following, some are ideological, some are factual...

1. Lee proposed Chinese (in China) should all speak/write English because English is a language of technology, innovation, industry and commerce. problem with this argument is, the Chinese language embodies the history, culture and innovation of the Chinese civilization, it binds the diverse ethnic groups located in distant regions as a "people". important to note China is not a small country like Singapore. even Lee admitted that the 1.5 billion people of China is a powerful economic tool that China could shut off market access to unfriendly countries and change behavior without applying military measure. Japan, a country Lee admires, never gave up japanese for English. Japan achieved #3 economy in the world without going english for every japanese.

2. Lee believes US will always be #1 but offered few reasons beyond "innovation", "immigrants" and "agility to change". Then he immediately talked about the unsustainable debts, fiscal irresponsibility, racial/ethnic divides and politicians making policy for short term gratification detrimental to long term national interest. Lee also disregarded America's imperial hegemony which depletes resources needed for primary/secondary education, care for the aged and infrastructure. (Lee made no comment on US' decaying infrastructure which is stunning given Singapore's superior infrastructure). understandably, Lee was being diplomatic with american media in these interviews, however, the total neglect on these "elephants" is glaring.

3. Lee wants US strong military presence in the pacific to repel China but also believes countries in the region should "get along" with China as China will definitely become a superpower. so Lee loves US World Police AND also loves China $$$. these are mutually exclusive propositions. Lee should know his chinese, "one mountain does not contain two tigers" metaphor. if you want China $$$, you can't have US military in China's own hemisphere. would US be happy to have Russian Navy carrier fleets (China has no carrier fleet) patrolling up and down California coast on the west and New York on the east?

4. Lee got it wrong on Russia. he repeatedly stated Russia has a depleting population and Chinese are taking over Russia's far eastern frontier. as such, Russia is heading to perpetual decline. this is another myth propagated by US govt and media that Russia is the "bad" guy, this is both absurd and not true. according to World Bank, Russia's 13 per 100 birthrate is only 1 lower than US (14 per 100) but higher than Canada, Spain (both 11/100), and much higher than Germany's 8 per 100. Russian people is no more "dying out" than germans, japanese, korean, italian, all have much lower birthrate than russian. Lee also remarked that Russians are dying out due to "alcoholism". statistics from WHO shows Russian's per capita alcoholic consumption is 16 liters per year, only 1 liter higher than south korea, 2 liters higher than UK. i believe Lee has read too much anglo/american propaganda on Russia and failed to fact check. Lee should read up on reputable Russian Scholars like Stephen Cohen (of NYU) and get himself educated on Russia before making these inaccurate, if not xenophobic remarks. Russia is a big power to contend with. With a growing population, historically extremely smart (think all the Russian musical, scientific, literature achievement), immense wealth in oil/gas and great leader in Putin (who may be the next Deng), Russia is thriving instead of declining.

5. Lee believes Chinese lacks innovation, imagination which will be the Achilles heel of china's long term viability. this is another myth propagated by the anglo/american pact. if Lee studied 2000+ yrs of chinese history, chinese people was way ahead of the europeans for over 1,600 yrs until 1800s. the "innovative genius" of the europeans is a 200 yrs phenomenon. to be fair, one needs an infrastructure to innovate. if a country is bombed, colonized and annihilated by countries of "gun culture" (recall Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel"), there would be no room for innovation. Also remember, for most of Chinese history, it has been a peaceful culture. Unlike Europeans who have been engaged in perpetual wars even within themselves.

Although I think Lee got his history wrong,i still think he is a great man. love the man
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on March 21, 2013
Lee Kuan Yew has a unique understanding of the situation in the word today. He understands the cultures in both the first and third worlds and how those cultures manifest themselves in the leadership of the countries of the world. Of particular interest is the types of people in countries and the fact that many citizens are "morons". As I look around the U.S., this perspective certainly explains the politicians we have in DC and how they rarely act in the interest of the citizenry! I understand why Lee is globally respected. He has walked the talk in Singapore despite the odds and understands the puzzle we call the world. A great read for any student of history and contemporary politics and how these will mold our future.
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on March 6, 2013
Lu Kuan Yew (LKY) must be the most experienced political leader still living to day, born in 1923 and still being as insightful as ever. The book is based on interviews by Harvard academics and on analysis of what LKY has written and his speeches. This format of questions and answers is effective, because the LKY gives original and innovative answers. He explains what is likely to happen as well as the risks that it can go wrong, very wrong. The chapter subjects are China, the USA, India, Islamic extremism, Globalization and Democracy.
In the rest of this review I have selected some of LKY's comments as examples of what you can expect on the subjects of vision, the purpose of government, the system of
Government, Leadership, National economic growth, China and the USA. His comments.
LKY comments. Society must maintain a balance between nurturing excellence in performance of the most capable, and encouraging the average to improve. There must be cooperation between people in the same society. There is a continual need to balance between a successful competitive society and a cohesive, compassionate one. To maintain cohesion, we buffer in Singapore the lowest 20%, the weaker achievers, from the tough competition of the market place. We support the lower-income workers with extra income.
Human beings are inherently vicious and have to be restrained from their viciousness. Confucius theory says people can be improved. I am not sure it can be, it can be disciplined. Law and order is essential, but many do not recognize that without order laws cannot be applied. Order also demands that people act in a disciplined way, which is not "natural".
The art of government is utilizing to the maximum the limited resources at the country's disposal (which requires continuous change, innovation, applying best practices developed in the own country or imported, and the application of science). We all seek a form of government that will be comfortable because it meets our needs, is not oppressive and maximizes our opportunities'
A political Leader must paint his vision of the future to the people, and then translate that vision into policies, which he must convince the people are worth supporting. Leaders must have the ability to plan and chart the way ahead and the fortitude to stay the course. There is no better way to run the country than putting the best man (as the leader) in the job.
The real issue is whether any government's political system., irrespective of whether it is democratic or authoritarian can forge consensus on the policies needed for the economy to grow and create jobs for all. LKY believes that Western democracies are not doing enough to teach the necessity of discipline of self-control, and self-reliance. LKY does believe in the merits of regular elections. A democracy can only function with a strong leader with the ability and courage to implement unpopular changes.
China will want to become co-equal with the USA by becoming economically in GDP number one. China does not want to dominate the world. It will aim to increase its sphere of influence in Asia where it will meet opposition. India and the USA together can maintain the necessary counterbalance in Asia. China will not become a liberal multi party democracy. It will expand freedom slowly, maintaining order with the Communist Party in charge even though LKY considers the government system that was copied from the Soviet Union a major weakness.

LKY is convinced the USA will overcome is problems as it has by far the most entrepreneurial culture in the world and will continue to be a world power.
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on April 5, 2013
The book is a true gem, a must read for those interested, or, ought to be interested in world politics, economics, competition, and relationships.[1]

The Foreword is by Henry Kissinger who says: "I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first premier and it's guiding spirit ever since." He goes on to describe Lee as "a man of unmatched intelligence and judgment."

Graham Allison, a professor of government at Harvard's Kennedy School, and Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. diplomat, follow Kissinger's remarks with a chapter covering laudatory comments about Lee from presidents (U.S. and other), Chinese Leaders, and many others. Over many years, these world leaders, corporate CEOs, scholars and journalists have made the pilgrimage to Singapore to seek his views.

The author's go on to do an exhaustive job of plumbing the depths of a truly wise man with meticulous referencing of the voluminous quotes that form the core of this 158-page book. The source references for these quotes cover 28-pages that stem from interviews with Lee as well as from his speeches, writings and interviews with others over the years.

The book focuses on the future and the specific challenges that the U.S. will face during the next quarter century. Readers that are fairly well acquainted with U.S. socio-economic politics should not be surprised to find that Lee believes that although the U.S. is not yet a "second rate power,"...the inability of its political leaders to make unpopular decisions does not bode well for its future. "...the American voter has shown a disinclination to listen to their political leaders when they debate the hard issues ...neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party has focused on the urgent need to cut down deficit spending, especially on welfare, to increase savings and investments, or, most crucial of all, to improve America's school system to produce workers who are able to compete internationally," says Lee.

Lee sees the breakdown of civil society when individual rights are not paired with individual responsibility leading to a growing culture of entitlements. He thinks that once charity became an entitlement in the U.S., the stigma of living on charity disappeared. As a result, entitlement costs outpace government resources, resulting in huge debts for future generations. In the meantime, America's political leaders kick the can down the road to win elections. This observation brings to mind a quote .usually attributed to the 18th-century Scottish historian Alexander Tytler; to wit:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy."

Notwithstanding the above, Lee still remains somewhat optimistic about the future of the U.S. and its role in the world. In his view, America's "creativity, resilience, and innovative spirit will allow it to confront its core problems, overcome them and regain its competitiveness." Americans believe that they can "make things happen," and thus they usually do.

As for the BRIC nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - Lee believes that these countries will not gain influence as a bloc over time but can prevent excesses by Americans and Europeans with China already dominating Asia and intending to become the world's leading power. Russia has been unable to develop an economy that generates wealth independent of exports of energy and natural resources. India, for the most part is a tired bureaucracy hampered by its caste system.

Lee believes China is determined to be "the greatest power in the world," and it expects to be accepted on its own terms, "not as an honorary member of the West." He also believes that China plans to become competitive by focusing on educating its young people, selecting the brightest for science and technology, followed by economics, business management, and English language. Lee's views on the high value the Chinese place on education have been and still are corroborated on a consistent basis. For example, see the April 4, 2013, issue of the Wall Street Journal for stories titled "Chinese Deluge U.S. Master's Programs" and "Hong Kong School Joined the Elite Fast."[2, 3]

Yet despite China's progress over the past 30 years, Lee sees it burdened with multiple handicaps, chief among these is an absence of the rule of law, the presence of widespread corruption, and the Chinese language itself--which "is exceedingly difficult for foreigners to learn sufficiently to embrace China and be embraced by its society," and a culture that does not "permit a free exchange and contest of ideas." He says the biggest fear of China's leaders is popular revulsion at the corrosive effects of graft.

Lee argues that while competition between the United States and China is inevitable, confrontation need not be since the Chinese have concluded that their best strategy is to build a strong and prosperous future, and use their skilled and educated workers to out-sell and out-build all others. The U.S. shouldn't expect a democratic China: "China is not going to become a liberal democracy; if it did, it would collapse." In China's 5,000 years of recorded history, he notes, the emperor has ruled by right, and if the people disagree, "you chop off heads, not count heads."

As for Islamist extremism, Lee believes that if Iran gets the bomb, a nuclear war in the Middle East is almost inevitable, but blames Saudi Arabia for encouraging the growth of Islamist extremism by financing mosques, religious schools and preachers world-wide to spread its "austere version of Wahhabist Islam."

Lee considers North Korea to be a perennial problem, saying: "A young man, Kim Jong-un, has taken over and is trying to show the world that he is bold and adventurous as his predecessors."

These are just a few of Lee's many penetrating insights based on his experiences in life and politics

Lee's three political heroes - Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill and Deng Xiaoping -- do not include an American. His admiration is based on the fact that each held a weak hand at a critical moment in history and, through guts and determination, managed to win.

Lee is a firm believer that leaders are born not made, and that leaders should be judged by their accomplishments, saying "The acid test is in performance, not promises." As with his three heroes, Lee began with a weak hand in Singapore but, by playing it to maximum effect, made himself a wise man and unquestionably one of the most fascinating and respected leaders in the world.


1. I have had a special interest in the rise of Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew ever since a friend, Dr. William Schowalter, became the Senior Advisor to the National University of Singapore (NUS). Bill is a former Dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as the chair of the 2012 Global Asia Institute Signature Conference at NUS University Town that aimed to transcend the boundaries of geography and knowledge to resolve issues critical to the future of Asia.

2. In China, which educates approximately one-half of the world's engineers, engineering education is valued as a preparation for contributions in government, policy, innovation, intellectual property, broad engineering disciplines, and manufacturing. The study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEMs) is considered to be a patriotic duty -- providing a robust pipeline of human resources for R&D.

3. This is in sharp contrast to the U.S., where, for all intents and purposes, government at all levels stands idle while many of its most prestigious schools prostitute themselves in a mostly futile quest for fame and fortune via their sports entertainment businesses. In December 2009,Darren Everson, Hannah Karp, and Mark Yost each published a college sports story in The Wall Street Journal that taken together offer chilling evidence that America's colleges and universities are helping to lead the way as it slithers toward second-rate nationhood.
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on July 19, 2015
Fascinating collection of interviews that provide a roadmap for successful governance. Singapore's founder is rightly credited with taking a poor country with no resources into the world's most prosperous and well educated nation in less than 30 years. Singapore is the singular economic miracle of the 20th Century - #1 in per capita GNP, #1 in education.

This quick read is rich with insight in areas of world opportunity and conflict, including radical Islamism.

It should be required reading for all the American Presidential contenders and pretenders. In the forward, Kissinger claims that he learned more from Yew than from another other world leader.

I picked up the book because friends from Singapore wept for days when Yew passed. I had to know more about this great man.
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