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.
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.
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.