Lee Kuan Yew

Genre: Social & Political History

Country of Origin: Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH (born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, 16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), commonly known by his initials LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. He chose to step down in 1990 to ensure a stable leadership renewal. Lee is recognised as the founding father of modern Singapore, and is credited with bringing Singapore from Third World to First World status in a single generation. His successor, Goh Chok Tong, appointed Lee as Senior Minister in 1990. He then held the advisory post of Minister Mentor from 2004 to 2011 when his son, Lee Hsien Loong, became the third prime minister. In total, he held successive ministerial positions for 56 years and then continued to serve his Tanjong Pagar constituency of 60 years as a Member of Parliament until 2015.

Lee graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, with a double starred-first-class honours in law; also receiving the Whitlock Prize. In 1950, he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and practised law until 1959. Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP) and was its first secretary-general, leading it to eight consecutive victories. He campaigned for Britain to relinquish its colonial rule, merging with Malaysia in 1963; but racial strife and political tensions led to its separation from the Federation two years later. Leading a newly independent Singapore from 1965, with overwhelming parliamentary control, Lee led the nation through multiple upheavals in Southeast Asia and oversaw its transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources to an Asian Tiger economy. In the process, he forged a widely admired system of meritocratic, corruption-free and highly efficient government and civil service, much of which is now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, with an alumni from more than 80 countries.

He eschewed populist policies in favour of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. With meritocracy and multiracialism as the nation's foundations, Lee made English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the west. But he also mandated bilingualism in schools so that students preserve their mother-tongue roots and cultural identity. Lee personally donated $12 million to start a Fund for Bilingualism teaching in 2011, which drew further pledges of over $110 million in the first year.

Lee's rule was criticised for curtailing civil liberties (public protests, media control) and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such autocratic measures were necessary for political stability, which together with rule-of-law, were essential for economic progress. - Wikipedia