29 October 2009

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Singapore is so fortunate to have Mr Lee Kuan Yew helming the nation. He is so well respected by Top-notch leaders from United States....

"Our trading relationship with Asean suports millions of American jobs and helps nurture the industries and opportunities of tomorrow. It is fitting that His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew will be honoured on the (US-Asean Business) Council's 25th anniversary.

"As Prime Minister of Singapore from 1965 to 1990, and through his current service as Minister Mentor, Mr Lee has been a central figure in the evolution of Asean. He has also been a constructive partner with the US in efforts to promote economic growth."

US President Barack Obama

"MM Lee's life of public service is both unique and remarkable. As Prime Minister of Singapore for more than three decades, he has been a key figure in the growth and evolution of Asean.

"His work as Prime Minister and now as Minister Mentor has helped literally millions of people in Singapore and all across South-east Asia to live better, more prosperous lives.

"I hope the leaders of Asean will continue to build upon Mr Lee Kuan Yew's outstanding legacy. I send you again my heartfelt congratulations, I thank you for honouring a man I admire so very much."

Ex-president Bill Clinton

"I first met Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1981. Over the years, he's continued to be a trusted and important friend and ally to the United States. All of us who have worked with him have benefited from his wisdom, insights and dedication.

"Few have done so much for their country or are as deserving of recognition for lifetime service to his country and the South-east Asian region as Mr Lee. His leadership was instrumental in Singapore becoming the thriving prosperous nation it is today.

"He was visionary in recognising the need for regional architecture and he helped Asean become a force for peace and aconomic cooperation that has helped millions of people in South-east Asia raise their standards of living."

Ex-president George H.W. Bush

"He's a great man, and great leaders bridge the gap between the experience of their society and their vision...He has become a seminal figure for all of us.

"I've not learned as much from anybody as I have from Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He made himself an indispensable friend of the United States, not primarily by the power he represented but by the quality of his thinking."

"Over 40 years, when Mr Lee Kuan Yew comes to Washington, he gets to see an array of people that almost no foreign leader gets to see in such a grouping and in a mode which is unique, because he does not come as a supplicant He comes as a comrade, in common efforts, from whom we can learn, who can tell us about the nature of the world that we face. He gives us insights into the thinking of his region.

"And that is the most important challenge we face in the long term in this country - how to build a kind of fundamental and organice relationship with Asia. We have to learn to deal with Asia, not by the patterns of the Cold War, but in a way that various arms of Asia, including China, build an organic relationship across the Pacific. There is nobody who can teach us more about this than the MM."

Dr Kissinger, 86, former secretary of state and Nobel Peace Prize winner

"Not long after I took office as Secretary of State, maybe two or three weeks, I had invited (then Chancellor of West Germany) Helmut Schmidt to come to a gathering.

"At the same gathering, my great friend Henry Kissinger had invited (then) Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, our mutual friend, to come. We had the weekend and afterwards on Sunday, we went down to my house on the Standford campus and the four of us sat around the kitchen table: Helmut Schmidt, Lee Kuan Yew, Henry Kissinger and me for about three hours. Finally our wives came in and said, 'We're going to get lunch, you got to get out of here.''

But it was an intense discussion among that group. Can you imagine a seminar where a new secretary of state is sitting around for three hours listening to Kissinger, Schmidt and Lee Kuan Yew?

"Man, that was education."

"So (MM Lee), you have taught all of us a tremendous amount by what you've done, what you've said, the way you meant it when you say something, and I thank you."

Dr Shultz, 89, former secretary of state (1982-1989).

"(MM Lee) has demonstrated not only the power of his intellect but the strength of leadership at a scale that is truly of historic proportions.

"So I would ask you to join me in a toast to His Excellency, whose mark has been made on the evolution of South-east Asia in a way that is perhaps unsurpassed by any other individual, whose power of intellect and strength of his leadership will be long remembered in our history."

Senator Jim Webb, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations' subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs

"Thanks for coming and spending so much time with a group of people who not only respect you but love you. I know we don't use that word in Singapore, but still, we love you."

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs - the US state department's top Asia policy official, Kurt Campbell.


2 Macro Voice(s):

Anonymous said...

I refer to the letter to Straits Times by Steve Tan dated 31 Oct 2009.

Mr Tan feels that the glowing tributes by American dignitaries place in context the vision and stewardship of MM Lee. But many of those tributes don't even make sense. Mr Clinton said that MM helped millions of people across Southeast Asia to live better, more prosperous lives. Yet, much of Southeast Asia is still in poverty. Should we instead say that MM helped millions across Southeast Asia to stay in poverty?

Mr Bush said that MM has done so much for Singapore and desserves the recognition for making Singapore the thriving, prosperous nation it is today. But the fact remains that Singapore was already a thriving city under the British. MM merely inherited a Singapore that had been thriving for more than a century. Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea have similarly thrived and prospered without the stewardship of any one 'legendary' figure. This suggests that the prosperity that we experience today is not necessarily the work of any one individual but the result of something common amongst East Asians.

We should ask ourselves what this incessant pursuit of growth is for? Do we pursue growth for growth's sake? Or do we pursue growth to become prosperous? But we are already prosperous. The developed economies have shown us that as we near the apex of prosperity, growth slows naturally. Like a child who improves by 10 marks every year, very soon, he'll hit 100 marks.

When Sir Stamford Raffles brought in immigrants, Singapore was just a colony. Now that Singapore is a nation, can we continue to behave like we are a colony? When will we ever start behaving like a nation?

The recognition and honouring of our leader doesn't automatically translate to the honouring of our country. Just like the honouring of Stalin or Hitler doesn't automatically translate to the honouring of Russia or Germany.

Both MM and SM have shown us that at ages when many can no longer find gainful employment, they are privileged enough to continue to work for the millions they pocket every year.

You don't need the harshest critics to see the meaninglessness of it all. I wish MM au Revoir and 'early' retirement for the good of Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr President,

I refer to your recent compliment to our Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. You said Mr Lee 'helped to trigger the Asian economic miracle.' But just how momentous or crucial has this 'trigger' been?

The 'Asian economic miracle' began with the miracles of the four East Asian dragons of Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. Since all started industrialisation around the same time, how do we know if it was Mr Lee's Singapore that helped 'trigger the Asian miracle' and not Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea instead?

We now know that the success of the Asian miracle rests with export oriented industrialisation. Countries that embarked on import substitution industrialisation failed to prosper. Yet, when Mr Lee first took over the reins of government in 1959, it was precisely the route of import substitution that he took. It was only in 1965 when Singapore was separated from its Malaysian hinterland that import substitution became untenable, forcing Singapore to embark on export oriented industrialisation instead. So if there had been a 'trigger' for the 'Singapore miracle', it must have been lady luck.

Moreover, Singapore's plans for industrialisation came largely from one man - the Dutch economist Dr Albert Winsemius who was also instrumental in bringing the first multinationals like Shell and Philips onto the shores of Singapore. So if we have to name one person who 'helped trigger the Singapore miracle', it would have been Dr Winsemius rather than Mr Lee.

Finally, if all it takes is just a 'trigger', why aren't we seeing more 'miracles' all around the world? The Singapore story is no secret but an open recipe for all to see and to emulate. Yet even within Asia itself we see so many countries languishing in poverty. Does it make sense to say that Mr Lee 'triggered' China more and the Phillippines less? It doesn't make sense. So clearly, it takes more than just 'triggers' for 'miracles' to happen. Thus it makes little sense to attribute the 'Asian miracle' to any one 'trigger'.

Thank you