A First World oasis

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew fielded wide-ranging questions for 30 minutes following the Tate Lecture at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Here and on the facing page are edited excerpts of some of his replies.

“THE reason we succeeded was because we had no resources other than our geographic position and people.

And to differentiate ourselves, to bring them (investors) to Singapore, we had to do things which our neighbours couldn’t do.

And the first thing we did was, since business was not done without some slush money, in Singapore you do business without slush money.

We remained clean, honest, efficient. We provided First World standards of health, security, communications and education.

So long before I knew this business of branding or differentiation, common sense told me that if I were like my neighbours, and they had all the oil and gas and the forests and the rivers and I had nothing, then I’ll end up with zero.

But if I can make myself a First World oasis in a Third World region, then I’ve got something worthwhile. And that’s how it all came about.”

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