04 April 2015
Singapore’s transformation from third world to first stands out as a model to African countries. Still there is a danger that African leaders take the wrong lessons from Singapore’s success.
‘One of the asymmetries of history,’ wrote Henry Kissinger of Lee Kuan Yew, ‘is the lack of correspondence between the abilities of some leaders and the power of their countries.’ Kissinger’s one-time boss, Richard Nixon, was even more flattering. He speculated that, had Lee lived in another time and another place, he might have ‘attained the world stature of a Churchill, a Disraeli, or a Gladstone’.
In other words: it was a shame Lee had a small country. Yet it is precisely because Lee did run a small state that Singapore’s transformation from third world to first, to use the title of his autobiography, should stand out as a model to African countries of transformation, against the odds and their colonial inheritance.
… Greg Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, is the author most recently of Why States Recover (Panmacmillan, 2014) and, with Jeffrey Herbst, the forthcoming How South Africa Works (Panmacmillan, 2015). In 2014 he was a Senior Visiting Fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. This article is in collaboration with the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies, Nanyang Business School and is part of an ongoing RSIS series on The Legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 06/04/2015