Danger facing Singapore

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.

“WE HOLD elections every four to five years which are completely free and fair, no corruption, no stuffing of ballot papers, and we’ve won every one of them. And in each election, there are several parties contesting.

I think you must be a very unthinking Singaporean if you want to toss out a government that has given you homes, jobs and education. There was also no alternative that could in any way compare to what the People’s Action Party (PAP) has been doing.

And that still is the case. I hope in the next election, we will win again overwhelmingly, assuming we stay clean, we stay effective, efficient and we deliver what we promise.

I would think that the danger for Singapore is the difficulty of the PAP to find a next generation of dedicated, able and committed leaders who will give up their private lives and their successful careers to undertake public duty.

My generation was brought up in very turbulent times and we felt the urge to do something about it.

The generation that Singapore now has, especially those born after independence in 1965, has only known growth, has only known greater comfort year by year, and believes that this comes naturally.

I try very hard to tell them that it did not come naturally and will not come naturally.

So, they ought to think very carefully how they can create a society which will remain dynamic, striving for excellence, and not get laid-back and complacent, and then lose its competitiveness, because we have some very hungry competitors in China, India and Vietnam, and we could easily be displaced.”

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