The Singapore Story – Lee Kuan Yew


The Singapore Story - Book Cover

The Singapore Story – Book Cover

I finished reading ‘The Singapore Story’ by Lee Kuan Yew few days back. It was nearly 700-page book. But I could read it at a stretch since it was an inspirational story and it is written in a very simple, yet effective language. The book is about LKY’s childhood, youth and how Singapore became an independent state and LKY’s role in it.

Singapore Map

Singapore Map

LKY’s childhood is interesting. He had been a brilliant student but his education was disturbed during Japanese occupation of Singapore during the World War II. But he was lucky enough (or courageous enough rather) to complete his education in the United Kingdom and become a lawyer. Not only that, he was able to become the Prime Minister of Singapore at the young age of 35.

How LKY aligned people, trade unions, and his political party (People’s Action Party – PAP) towards winning elections is amazing. He is a smart, shrewd and cunning politician. He gets the support of the communists to win the parliament elections and then drops them when they become a nuisance. He survives coup attempts by his parliamentary colleagues as well. He never loses hopes for Singapore.

Map of Malaysia

LKY mentions Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in several places in the book and also admires her. The way he describes his travels is very interesting. His travel accounts to different African nations to promote Malaysia are fascinating. He wants Singapore to become a part of a new country that was being formed with integration of Federation of Malaya, Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah regions. (Brunei later pulled out of the plan.) The new country was to be named Malaysia. Though LYK works hard for integration, later Mr. Abdul Rahman -the Tunku- the Chief Minister of Federation of Malaya decides to keep Singapore out of Malaysia for fear that LYK will one day become the Prime Minister of Malaysia. But LYK’s goal is different. He only wants to ensure that the Singaporeans will get equal rights within the state of Malaysia which they are not going to get as the Tunku tries to give priority to Malays in Malaysia over the rest of the nations. Once Singapore is snubbed by Malaysia, Singapore automatically becomes an independent state. The book ends there.

What I most liked about the book was that the author even highlights the negative remarks others have made regarding him without considering the damage it does to his image. In fact the facts in the book become more reliable due to the very reason.

The way how LKY developed Singapore to today’s status is not discussed in the book. It is in another book called ‘From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000.’ Must acquire it as soon as possible.

The problem I have is that why did our late president, Mr. J. R. Jayawardene, with a 5/6unprecedented power, fail to do what LKY did in his country.

8 thoughts on “The Singapore Story – Lee Kuan Yew

  1. Pingback: The Singapore Story – Lee Kuan Yew (from Sri Lanka) « SG Hard Truth

    • Everybody knows him because he is the initiator. Thousands followed him because he is an inspirational leader. We have millions in our country but are in want of a leader like him. That makes the difference I think.

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      • Exactly, everyone knows Gandhi but not many of his millions of followers are known. Does that mean Gandhi was not a great man? I liked your assessment, sometimes it takes a non-Singaporean to appreciate what LKY did because his own people take these things for granted.

        “A prophet is never recognised in his own town.”

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  2. Wanni, just a comment on the thing that puzzles you about JR: “….. with a 5/6unprecedented power, fail to do what LKY did in his country.” Your question is understandable as JR himself said that he wants to turn SL to a Singapore. This is where most of our leaders fail. Apart from the question of not being committed to overcoming corruption, they always thought of foreign models. We Sri Lankans are not Singaporeans, Japanese or Britishers. We have our own ways. Therefore Sri Lanka can be developed successfully only by a Sri Lankan way to achieve its own heights.

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  3. You complete forget that Singapore was built by Chinese. We don’t have what it takes to even think about building a country like Singapore. Our main obstacle is religion. Too much religion is bad for you. If you look at Singapore, it is a secular state. Our people are drowning in superstition, astrology and things like that. Also, too dependent on religion for everything. It is a recipe for disaster.

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