Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Third World to First - Tribute To Lee Kuan Yew

Hantu Laut

From Third World to First

The Singapore Story: 1965-2000

Highly recommended for those who wanted to learn the history of Singapore, the trails and tribulations, the success story and the man who passionately turned this tiny island nation from a third world hovel into first world metropolis that can rival the best of the developed world. Not only it is squeaky clean, it is also one of few very functional cities in the world.

This is the second volume of his memoirs.

I bought both books when it was first published and have ever since used it as a kind of reference book on anything about Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore. The indexes are useful guide if you need to go to specific reference.

Book Description

Few gave tiny Singapore much chance of survival when it was granted independence in 1965. How is it, then, that today the former British colonial trading post is a thriving Asian metropolis with not only the world's number one airline, best airport, and busiest port of trade, but also the world's fourth–highest per capita real income?

The story of that transformation is told here by Singapore's charismatic, controversial founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Rising from a legacy of divisive colonialism, the devastation of the Second World War, and general poverty and disorder following the withdrawal of foreign forces, Singapore now is hailed as a city of the future. This miraculous history is dramatically recounted by the man who not only lived through it all but who fearlessly forged ahead and brought about most of these changes.

Delving deep into his own meticulous notes, as well as previously unpublished government papers and official records, Lee details the extraordinary efforts it took for an island city–state in Southeast Asia to survive at that time.

Lee explains how he and his cabinet colleagues finished off the communist threat to the fledgling state's security and began the arduous process of nation building: forging basic infrastructural roads through a land that still consisted primarily of swamps, creating an army from a hitherto racially and ideologically divided population, stamping out the last vestiges of colonial–era corruption, providing mass public housing, and establishing a national airline and airport.

In this illuminating account, Lee writes frankly about his trenchant approach to political opponents and his often unorthodox views on human rights, democracy, and inherited intelligence, aiming always "to be correct, not politically correct." Nothing in Singapore escaped his watchful eye: whether choosing shrubs for the greening of the country, restoring the romance of the historic Raffles Hotel, or openly, unabashedly persuading young men to marry women as well educated as themselves. Today's safe, tidy Singapore bears Lee's unmistakable stamp, for which he is unapologetic: "If this is a nanny state, I am proud to have fostered one."

Though Lee's domestic canvas in Singapore was small, his vigor and talent assured him a larger place in world affairs. With inimitable style, he brings history to life with cogent analyses of some of the greatest strategic issues of recent times and reveals how, over the years, he navigated the shifting tides of relations among America, China, and Taiwan, acting as confidant, sounding board, and messenger for them. He also includes candid, sometimes acerbic pen portraits of his political peers, including the indomitable Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the poetry–spouting Jiang Zemin, and ideologues George Bush and Deng Xiaoping.

Lee also lifts the veil on his family life and writes tenderly of his wife and stalwart partner, Kwa Geok Choo, and of their pride in their three children –– particularly the eldest son, Hsien Loong, who is now Singapore's prime minister.

For more than three decades, Lee Kuan Yew has been praised and vilified in equal measure, and he has established himself as a force impossible to ignore in Asian and international politics. From Third World to First offers readers a compelling glimpse into this visionary's heart, soul, and mind.

"More than forty years ago. Lee Kuan Yew transformed what was a poor, decrepit colony into shining, rich and modern metropolis---all the time surrounded by hostile powers.With his brilliant, incisive intellect, he is one of the world's most outspoken and respected statesman.This book is a 'must read' for any student of modern Asia." Rupert Murdoch.

Available online at Harper Collins, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


vinnan said...

It took Singapore 40 years to go from third world to first world. Malaysia? The Malays or should I say UMNO have ruled Malaya and then Malaysia for more than 50 years and we are no where close to Singapore in socio-economic terms. LKY was dictatorial but he never used racial riots, religion or the courts to grab power. The two largest Malay political parties today are too busy worrying about their own well-being to worry about the masses. One is a racial champion and the other an Islamic hero but both have no idea how to make Malaysia a better place for all. All they want to do is bullshit the Malays about their Perpaduan Bangsa and Ummah rubbish, cover up rotting scandals and inflate the sum of foreign investments such as Zambry's latest announcement about the RM 9 billion 'South American Company' investment. What's the name of the company Zambry? Who is the minister responsible for the PKFZ swndle Najib? To Hadi, Nasharuddin and Khairy name the people who are threatening the perpaduan of your ummah. Let's have some specifics and not spins to justify the greed for power.

UMNO have failed for 50 years and so have the Malays. The Malays cannot exonerate themselves from blame for it is the Malays who kept UMNO in power. Malaysia is losing out to Singapore because the Malays have allowed UMNO to fail them. The Malays must understand that the Ketuanan and Perpaduan shit they are so hell bent on using to blame others for their failure will never be accepted by the non-Malays. All these does not mean there are no good men in UMNO or PAS who sees beyond their race and religion who wants to transcend their race and religion in the same way LKY was able to transcend his race. Why do we not see Singaporeans Malays leaving their country on the scale the non-Malays leave Malaysia seeking a better life and a fairer deal?

With power also comes the responsibility to wield it fairly. Unfortunately, the infantile, egoistical Malays in UMNO and PAS who have ruled this country have never been mature enough to understand this responsibility. The Malays and Malaysians in general are doomed if they keep allowing their leaders to blind them. I say all these because I see Malaysia as a place I rightfully belong too. My uncles fought the communist and one day it may fall upon my sons to fight for this country. The Malays must not disappoint us in the same way they disappointed people like my uncles who fought the communist. Remember Iraq.

eddy said...

Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore will be rightly judged by historians who will not look at Lee Kuan yew's achievements through biased eyes. I for one think that his prime contribution was to provide solid political stability by all legal means possible to ensure further economic success for Singapore. Political instability would have killed Singapore.

However for every view there will always be an alternative view, and actually there is an interesting post by a Singapore Blogger, Lesser Mortal, about the Myth of the Singapore PAP(read lee Kuan Yew) Miracle:

Open Quote "The Myth of the PAP Singapore’s Miracle

All of us have been brought up believing that modern-day Singapore is nothing less than a miracle. A tiny dot that became one of the world’s most prosperous nations. After all, what did little Singapore have? We have no oil, no water, no gold and little land. We seemed doomed after Malaysia kicked us out unceremoniously. Lee Kuan Yew actually cried on national TV which seemed to indicate the despair he felt back then.So are we a living miracle of a nation? Did only PAP bring about prosperity?

The answer is no.

Let’s take a look at pre-PAP’s, pre-Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore.
Singapore, before the destruction of world-war II ravaged our shores,
was a bustling and world-renowned major trading port. Its strategic
location alongst the Straits of Malacca was unbeatable. Take a look at the world map. All major trading routes between Asia and Europe has to pass by the narrow Straits of Malacca, which makes it one of the
busiest waterways in the world.The deep waterways of Singapore was
especially attractive in the past because steamships could now pass
through this route, and this coincided with the increase in global trading activity attributed to the Industrial Revolution, which
Singapore was a beneficiary of. PAP certainly did not build this port,
neither did it create this strategic location. It inherited the already bustling port from the British, who by virtue of their trade amongst its huge empire, made Singapore its crown jewel in the East.To attribute the growth of Singapore because of the PAP will surely be a slap in the face to our forefathers who came from many parts of the world to work as coolies in the already bustling port of Singapore back then, and helped build this city state from scratch. To credit PAP for creating modern day Singapore’s prosperity will also be ignoring the contributions made by the British, who took efforts to create modern day infrastructure, such as piping and telecommunications, and of course the successful port facilities that has benefited Singapore till today.."Close quote.

.....for more please read:

I think the good thing is that, Lesser Mortal, does not make specific references to race or religion but only to individuals, parties and nationalities and no profanities either. I like that.

MariaFaizal said...

Unfortunately none of our bolehland's PM is as good as LKY (not even close)!

Their own 'pockets' are far more important than the people.

SM said...


You hit the nail right on the head! As I commented earlier, I think only TDM comes close but then again still falls way short!
As for those who "try" to downgrade LKY & his achievements, well...SOUR GRAPES!
Malaysia will never be able to achieve Developed Nation Status (least of all do it by 2020).
Why? Because we keep voting for corrupted, racists crooks (oooopppss...i.e. UMNO) to head the Nation, that's why!

Anonymous said...

I cringe everyti e I visit Singapore.... Thinking about what could have been if only... Someone ion the comments before mentioned that why aren't Singaporean malays not leaving the country in droves like the non malays in Malaysia.... Good question but the answer to that is an open secret, everyone knows but no one hits the nail...

I am sick of ppl down playing LKY's and Singapores mgmt of the country... We are just downright jealous with our kampong mentality..

Ytoutube has a lot of ids on both Msia and Singapore parliamentary debates... U will see a stark contrast in the perceived intelligence of our leaders....

I weep for Malaysia... But I only pray that our dear pm najib will decide to create his legacy and be committed to the 1malaysia... Although I know it's just a brand excercise but i still hope...