Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Fish In A Small Pond ?

Hantu Laut

This is the man that took a tiny crime-stricken tropical backwater island to become the most successful modern nation and an economic miracle no less in less than four decades of his regime.

Despite lack of natural resources Singapore became a financial and industrial powerhouse.A success story, a feat, that many world leaders could only dream about.

I have read almost every book written on Lee Kuan Yew, from the obscured James Minchin's "No Man Is An Island" to his two-volume memoirs and the latest book written on him by American columnist Tom Plate.

"One of the asymmetries of history" wrote Henry Kissinger of him. Kissinger's one time boss Richard Nixon was even more flattering and said had Lee lived in another time and another place, he might had attained the stature of a Churchill,Disraeli or a Gladstone.

Profoundly true but water under the bridge now.Few leaders could have attained what Lee had with a tiny nation that had no natural resources except the richness and diversity of its human capital.

In 1965 Singapore ranked the same economically with Chile, Argentina and Mexico, today its per capita GDP is 6 times more than those countries.Even more amazing the per capita GDP is higher than its former colonial master and richer than the purportedly richest nation on earth.The per capita is higher than Britain and the United States.

Talk about the success story of Singapore many Malaysians would not wonder in amazement . "Oh! It's a small country, easier to manage" some would say.True in a way but untrue in many ways.

Smallness will not guarantee success if you have rotten leadership, bad governance and run-away corruptions.That's where Singapore succeed and where other more resourceful countries failed.It persisted in zero tolerance for anomalies.

Obviously, Lee is a big fish in a small pond and he is not letting go of his lost opportunity to govern a bigger land mass......being kicked out of Malaysia as reflected in his regret and disappointment here.

Lee, no doubt is an accomplished leader, a great statesman, an intellectual with achievements unequalled in this modern era.All those do not necessary help smarten his views of hindsight.

His lamentation that Malaysia, if had been kept intact, would have benefited from what Singapore had achieved today in term of racial harmony and equality is just his pipe dream.

As Mahathir said in sarcasm of him as being "A big frog in a small pond" in Tom Plate's "Conversation With Lee Kuan Yew" comments by world leaders.

Keeping Singapore and hard-nosed Lee in Malaysia would have been genocidal and ended in unimaginable disaster. It would be Singapore wanting to leave Malaysia then when the Malays refused to concede political powers to the Chinese whom would have been same in numbers or in the majority. It's a sure recipe for disaster and Tungku Abdul Rahman was wise when he took the decision to expel Singapore to save the nation from ending up in violence and bloodshed. There would not be any Malaysia.There would not be a bigger pond for Lee to swim in. Sabah and Sarawak would have joined Singapore in breaking up the nation.

That's what the most probable scenario would have been.

Of course, I do not expect everyone to agree with my hypothesis.


Anonymous said...

What ifs?

History is full of them. Man plans but it is God's History. Ultimately history is His Story.


Anonymous said...

I traveled to Singapore last May and commuted by bus from my hotel to the convention centre. In the bus, I noticed a tudung wearing teenager sitting next to a chinese girl friend both looking at a greeting card held by the Malay girl and conversing intimately between themselves exchanging notes oblivious to their racial and cultural differences. I might perceived this as an isolated incident but given the exposure of common education among all races in Singapore,I believe my initial perception is discredited against the color blind interaction I observed. Lee Kuan Yew would have led Malaysia to what Singapore is today if the British colonial master and United Nation had given full support in all manners and aspects for him to be elected by the populace to run this country with his iron-fist but incorruptible rule. We would have a truly clean and well remunerated civil service and prosperous living citizen with our well managed rich natural resources and well groomed and well cultivated crops of future leaders under a universal and practical education system. You might not have your current hindsight genocidal view if you had grown up and groomed under his firm dictatorial but clean and practical leadership. Generally Singaporean dislike him personally but they would vote for him for overall benefits of society.