04 April 2015
IN MANY ways, the passing of Lee Kuan Yew brings to a close the formative history of Singapore. Lee, who passed away at age 91, was the island-state’s founding prime minister and the last surviving member of a team of indomitable spirits that included Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam and Toh Chin Chye.
Together, these men, and the people who worked for them, steered newly-independent Singapore through the stormy years of separation from Malaysia in 1965 and the height of the Cold War in South-east Asia, and in the process created the vibrant, First World metropolis the world has come to know.
Much has been written about Lee Kuan Yew; the material available on the man and his ideas would easily fill a library. Whether authored by admirers or detractors, the vast majority of what is written about Lee shares one common thematic thread – an emphasis of his hardnosed pragmatism and instinct for survival. Indeed, Lee’s stubbornness and strategic foresight were legendary.
… Joseph Chinyong Liow is the inaugural holder of the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in South-east Asia Studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Centre for East Asia Policy Studies. This article first appeared on The Brookings Institution website.
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Last updated on 06/04/2015