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United Daily News: Kee Kuan Yew's political legacy

United Daily News: Kee Kuan Yew's political legacy

Singapore's patriarch Lee Kuan Yew (???), the statesman who transformed the city state from an economic backwater into a wealthy global hub as its founding father and first prime minister, died on Monday at the age of 91. Looking back on Lee's controversial life, his achievements are not only reflected in his governance of Singapore but also in the historic and global spheres. His leadership, however, has also been criticized as a "soft" form of authoritarianism that suppressed freedom, but the formula succeeded. If not for Lee, Singapore would not have achieved what it has today. There are many characteristics of the Singapore strongman's political philosophy. First, elitism. Lee is accused of promoting a culture of elitism among the country's ruling class. He openly advocated that university-educated men should marry women with university degrees. He also encouraged women with university degrees to bear more children. Second, social Darwinism. While he advocated social fairness and the protection of the poor and underprivileged, he also promoted social competition, and opposed social welfare policies based on populist ideology. Third, platonic utopianism. Singapore's political and economic structure is similar to Plato's utopia and features patriarchy and hierachy. Fourth, Machiavellianism. Lee has said he thought Machiavelli was right about the choice between being loved and being admired. Thus, "if no one was afraid of me, I would have no value," he added. Machiavellianism is a political theory and one of the dark triad of personality traits, in psychology, based on the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli. Fifth, paternalism. Lee Kuan Yew created "one-party dictatorship- style democracy" in Singapore. Although Singapore holds regular elections and with all the ingredients of a democracy, it has been continuously ruled by one party due to the country's special electoral system and because the ruling party commands the most resources. Generally speaking, Lee Kuan Yew's leadership style shows that he was reserved about democracy but maintained the rule of law, and while he advocated social competition to attract elitists with high pay and maintained basic social welfare policies, he rejected populism that pandered to the poor and under-privileged. Lee was undeniably one of the greatest leaders in contemporary Asia. His role in promoting cross-Taiwan Strait relations was also prominent. He visited Taiwan over 25 times. The first meeting between Koo Chen-fu (???), chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) of Taiwan, and Wang Daohan (???), president of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), took place in Singapore in 1993. Lee was deeply concerned about relations between Taiwan and China, but his feelings received lukewarm reactions from Taiwan, which made him feel pessimistic about Taiwan during his twilight years. (Editorial abstract -- March 24, 2015) (By Evelyn Kao)


Updated : 2021-01-15 23:46 GMT+08:00