Published on Sep 15, 2011
Whether he ever dreamt that Singapore would become what it is today when he first became prime minister in 1959:
‘What I did was to catch every wind that came along… we used all the forces that came our way to …our advantage.’
Whether there is a trade-off between economic development and democracy, and how to handle Singaporeans who, having fulfilled their basic needs, now want greater participation in the political process:
‘If you don’t have economic development, what democracy can you have except that of contention over your parlous state? You must have cognizance of Maslow’s five levels of needs…
Well, conditions change after a long period of quiet confident growth. A generation that grows up in a period of affluence believes that we have arrived. As the saying goes, a First World parliament must have a First World position. So the restlessness, whether that leads to better governance, I’m not able to say, I think we’ll wait and see how constructive the opposition can be, or will be.’
Whether there is a systemic problem with the type of government that habitually runs into budget deficits:
‘Well, when you have populist democracy, to win votes you got to give more and more. And to beat your opponent in the next election, you promise to give more away. So it’s a never-ending process of auctions, at a cost that’s paid for by the next generation… I’ve been careful to make sure that Singapore doesn’t go that way, and I hope the Prime Minister and his Cabinet will make sure that Singapore veers on the side of prudence and balances its budget, and not raid its reserves…
Where does the money come from? Not from taxes but from our reserves. Then, you got to see the President and persuade him to release the money. And I hope the President will know that if you release the money this time, there will be many more releases and you will soon deplete the reserves.’
His vision for Singapore going forward:
‘No, the vision has got to be your vision, not my vision. I’ve lived my life. I’m 88. I’m strolling into the sunset. Maybe I’ll stumble towards the end. But you have to have a vision on the kind of Singapore you want. And you got to crystallise that and get your leaders to adopt your vision. It’s not for me to tell you what vision you should have.
I had a simpler problem – mainly raising living standards. Now you got a more complex situation – many highly educated and highly combative people who believe that we must have more competition, more pressure on the government. So you want to have an opposition. Finally, you will end up with a two-party system and you’ll become like the Europeans or Americans. I think that’s not a good development for Singapore. I hope that it remains just as a competitive opposition and not one where eventually the public says, let’s have a two-party government, believing that it will be better. I do not think so. Amongst other reasons, I do not believe Singapore can produce two top-class teams. We haven’t got the talent to produce two top-class teams.’
Comments collected from the net :
1. LKY convictions remain. He is not swayed by the wind although he catch every wind that came along. I have great respect for this man.