16 April 2015
While the physical transformation of Singapore from Third World to First is well-known, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s lasting achievement was building a Singaporean nation out of its diverse people.
When Mr. Lee Kuan Yew visited the Central Sikh Temple on 2 November 1990, I was just a few metres away as the then Prime Minister remarked: “At the right time, my Government wants the Sikhs to have the Punjabi Language [as a Mother Tongue Language in schools]. My Government and I would be failures if we foist the Chinese language on you.” That was Mr. Lee the nation builder at his best.
True to his words, one of his last acts as Prime Minister was a letter to the Sikh community indicating the Ministry of Education’s willingness to accept Punjabi as a Mother Tongue Language as part of the national bilingualism policy in the context of multiculturalism. Throughout his entire political career, Lee Kuan Yew had also scrupulously kept true to this policy as he strove to build a nation out of a multi-ethnic society.
… Bilveer Singh is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This is part of an RSIS series on the Legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 23/11/2015