Singapore Founder Lee Kuan Yew Dies



The founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who turned the Southeast Asian island nation into an economic powerhouse seemingly through force of sheer will, has died at the age of 91, the € New York Times reported on Sunday. He leaves behind one of the wealthiest and least corrupt countries in Asia, but one that is also famously strict and has been criticized for human rights offenses. Above all, however, Singapore works, reflecting Lee’s philosophy he articulated to the Times in 2007 as, “Does it work? If it works, let’s try it. If it’s fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.”

His “soft authoritarianism,” which limited free speech and political participation in exchange for material well-being and clean government, has been studied all over Asia and adopted by many developing countries, including China. Read more at The New York Times.

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  1. Not well known is that the fact that Lee was not the first elected leader of Singapore. In the first election under self-government, in 1955, Lee’s party lost to a party led by David Marshall z’l, a Jew whose family had moved to Singapore from Iraq. Marshall became Singapore’s first Chief Minister, but his party lost the 1959 elections to Lee and in most Singapore elections since then Lee’s party has won every seat in Singapore’s legislature. The party Marshall founded currently holds 6 seats out of 87 elected seats in Singapore’s parliament; the rest are held by Lee’s party.

    It should be noted that Singapore has diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel has an embassy in Singapore; its Ambassador is Yael Rubinstein. Singapore has two synagogues; both are protected as National Monuments by the government of Singapore. Singapore also has very friendly relations with the United States; it is one of only 15 countries with which the US has free trade agreements. Lee established effective one party rule in Singapore but his party and country have not been hostile to Israel or the US.