25 March 2015
Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s renowned intellectual, moral and political strengths played a major role in Singapore’s rise from Third World to First in one generation. Fair-minded Singaporeans are unlikely to forget his achievements.
Not long after the fall of Soviet Communism more than two decades ago now, the American Soviet specialist Jerry Hough created a stir when he declared that “Singapore had actually won the Cold War”. In a sense Hough was paying a compliment to the vision of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister.
The emerging orthodoxy by the early 1990s was that the US-led Western bloc, organised according to the principles of liberal democracy and market capitalism, had trumped Soviet-style centralised political and economic planning. This was what had won the Cold War, as popularised by Francis Fukuyama’s famous “End of History” thesis. Hough’s claim about Singapore was thus startling because while Singapore had adopted market principles in economic organisation, its political system was not liberal democratic in a textbook sense, but rather a hybrid one. Then and now Singapore’s system of governance prioritised order as the basis for the rule of law. Hough was thus implying that there was also a Singapore model of governance that deserved wide appreciation.
…Kumar Ramakrishna is Associate Professor and Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. From 1 April 2015, he will assume the new appointment of Head of Policy Studies in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman, RSIS. This is the second in the series on the Legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.
CENS / GPO / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 27/03/2015