Great interview the brilliant Lee Kuan Yew

by Limbic on September 24, 2008

[Note: Sorry about the crappy CNN video below. It seem to work only with Flash 8 and above and then, only sometimes]

The beautifully spoken Lee Kuan Yew expounds on statesmanship, the art (or futility) of nation building, Pakistan, China, Iraq, Georgia and other contemporary matters.

Video – Part 1

Video – Part 2

Here is a sample of from the transcript…

What is it I am trying to do? I am trying to create, in a Third World situation, a First World oasis.

I am not following any prescription given me by any theoretician on democracy, or whatever. I work from first principles, what will get me there — social peace and stability within the country, no fight between the races, between religions, whatever, fair shares for all, everybody is a homeowner.

I want investments. I’ve got nothing expect skilled manpower, infrastructure. I build up the infrastructure. I educate the people.

We have the best educated work force anywhere in Asia, and I would say, within another 10 years, anywhere in the world. They’re all educated in English, which is our working language, and they keep their mother tongue, whether it’s Chinese, Malay or Tamil, Urdu, or whatever.

Must I follow your prescription to succeed? Do I want to be like America? Yes, in its inventiveness and its creativeness.

But do I want to be with America, like America, with its inability to control the drug problem? No. Or the gun problem? No.

These are my choices. I go by what is good governance. What are the things I aim to do? A healthy society that gives everybody a chance to achieve his maximum.

Later, on China…

ZAKARIA: When the world saw the Beijing Olympics, and they saw the opening ceremonies, they saw a kind of birth of a new great power. How should we think about it? Should we be apprehensive?

LEE: What we saw — and I was there with a lot of other of the VIPs — was a reflection of their capabilities, their potential. It’s not what they have achieved industrially or technologically. This was a show that they had seven years to prepare for. And they were carefully thoughtful about what they wanted to present to the world. They wanted to remind the world that they are an old civilization, 5,000 years. They discovered gun powder, paper, movable type, printing. They built the Great Wall.

That’s the kind of capabilities for disciplined effort that built the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, and eventually will build them a technological society.

ZAKARIA: So you don’t worry about them.

LEE: What do they want? Every year they know they are closing the gap. That gap is a huge one.

ZAKARIA: Technologically between them and the West.

LEE: Technologically and industrially.

I mean, what you see along the coastal provinces is just about 20, 30 percent of the population, the advantaged part of China. If you go to the inland parts, you will see a very different China.

So they know that to catch up is 30, 40, 50 years. So, let’s not quarrel with anybody. That would abort the whole process.

Every year they grow stronger economically, industrially, catching up technologically. Any external problems will diminish their growth.

What do they have to worry about? Internal problems, social unrest, disparity in development, wages, farmers against the city dwellers, and so on.

The danger comes when you have, say, in 20 years a new generation that didn’t go through the Cultural Revolution, never went to the Long March, and who believe that China has arrived. So, this is a new phase they are moving into.

And worldwide problems — the biggest problem of all is climate change, energy.

[From: CNN Transcripts]

Via Fareed Zakaria and – Transcripts

For more in this brilliant statesman, see:

Official Site:


Video Search:

An Overview:

Lee Watch (tracking him):

This is where I saw him intereview:

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