The leader who gave the world hope.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Today is a special jubilee of the greatest living person on earth. Today is the 90th birthday of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and indisputable leader of the city-state of Singapore, without whom Singapore today would be a very different place. This is the man who turned a backward non-entity of a place into a flourishing nation, a dream city – an example for all the other countries in the world.

So what was Singapore like before?

In 1965 Singapore didn’t just become independent as many nations do – it was forced to become independent after having been thrown away much like unwanted garbage. It was a tiny group of undeveloped islands with very little going for it, which no one in their right mind considered either credible or potentially viable. People in their right mind tended not to consider it at all in the first place.

What was it like?

  • It was wretched territory – marshland and an overall mess of a territory on which pigs and cows grazed.
  • No natural wealth, not even drinking water (and apparently still none).
  • Unfriendly (to put it mildly) neighboring countries.
  • A semiliterate population, and a strong communist influence (including outside support).
  • Interethnic conflicts; a population made up of Chinese, Malay and Hindus – three very different religions.


  • Organized crime.
  • No army; no loyal police force.
  • Corruption with a very BIG capital letter.
  • Besides the British military base and the sea ports there was practically no other business at all.


Dirt, poverty and nothing to look forward to. That was in 1965.

After 25 years of reforms (yes, as early as in 1990) it was a completely different place…

A rapidly growing economy, virtually nonexistent corruption, unequivocal rule of law over everybody – without exception, investors queuing up, universities, electronics, and all sorts of other ‘Made in Singapore’ high-tech stuff, the second-largest Asian financial center (after Hong Kong), an airport straight out of a dream, one of the coolest airlines around… did I miss anything important? I could go on and on and on! So I will…

…The fine-tuning of social programs, plus the stable political system, plus resolved ethnic conflicts, plus next to no crime… All that adds up to Singapore being, well, paradise! //Hmmm… that is, when the wind isn’t blowing from the region’s largest oil refinery. There’s got to be something to complain about, after all.

When I first came here back in 2009, I wrote at the time:

“Singapore is a high-tech garden city; spacious, clean, with no graffiti on the walls or homeless people on the pavements below the skyscrapers. The buildings are clean as if just painted. Everywhere. All of them. A kind of “communist surrealism”.  Or rather – state-capitalist surrealism. Well-groomed, trimmed, smoothed, painted, cleaned, no cigarette butts or garbage in the gutter. And looking at and visiting the local university – I want to become a student again! Forever. This is paradise.” 

So how did it happen? Who was responsible and why?

Singapore is the achievement of the greatest man now living on Earth – Lee Kuan Yew. It was he who set the objective of making Singapore the best city in the world. He was able to build the perfect team and found the strength and firmness to lead his country along the chosen path.

Today, on September 16, 2013, Lee Kuan Yew turns 90.

Today is the beginning of the 100th decade for the greatest politician of the turn of the millennium, the world leader who has not only led his country to prosperity and well-being, but who has also become a shining example of leadership for ​​hundreds of millions around the world who admire Singapore and consider its modern history a model to emulate. Today we congratulate the man who has given maybe billions of people a most precious thing: hope and faith that miracles are possible in our imperfect world and happiness is attainable. His selfless work for the good of the people, his talent to get to the core of problems and successfully solve them, his ability to make the right decisions, his skill of turning noble intentions into reality, his honesty and unselfishness – all of that together ranks him as one of the greatest ever leader-reformers of the world to have changed the course of history.

That all sounds a little over-the-top. But the thing is – it’s what I firmly believe. There are people who can turn a dream into reality. Lee Kuan Yew did it. We all – everyone inhabiting the planet – need more leaders like Lee Kuan Yew.

The man had a dream – and the required intelligence, strength and willpower to make it a reality. A truly phenomenal feat.


“Once Singapore learned it from Britain; now we are re-learning it from Singapore.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Later in September our social media team will launch the Chinese version of my blog. Consider the text below the first step in this direction. And I have a special request to the Chinese-speaking reader – let me know i anything should be improved in this post:




• 这是一块可怜的领土— 境内沼泽遍地、整体杂乱无章、猪和牛等家畜任意饲养。
• 没有任何自然财富,甚至连饮用水都极为匮乏(几乎等于一无所有)。
• 邻国关系(委婉的说)较不友好。
• 半数人口为文盲,并受较强的共产主义影响(包括外国的支持也是如此)。
• 种族冲突严重,该国人口由中国人、马来人及印度人,三种宗教信仰不同的人群组成。

• 有组织的犯罪团伙
• 无军队;无忠诚的警察武装。
• 腐败横行
• 除英国军事 基地服务及海港业务外,几乎无任何其他商业。

脏乱、贫穷且无任何希望—Thatwasin 1965



“新加坡是一座高科技花园城市,这里宽敞、清洁、墙壁上没有任何涂鸦、高楼大厦角落里没有无家可归的流浪者。 新加坡国内任何地方的建筑如都清洁如新。所有建筑物都是如此。这是一个”共产主义及超现实主义”的国家。或者可以说——国家资本主义及超现实主义的国家。这是一个植被经精心修饰、修剪;道路平坦;建筑物经粉刷及清洁;下水道中无任何烟头或垃圾的国家。在我寻找并访问本地大学后—我希望再次成为一名学生!永远成为这里的一名学生。这里就是天堂!




这一切听起来有点过度赞誉。但是,我坚信的一点是,人们可以将梦想变为现实。李光耀先生已做到这一点。 我们—居住在这个星球上的每个人—都需要更多类似李光耀先生的领导者。



– Margaret Thatcher

Comments 2 Leave a note

    Peter Forster

    Although I agree with most of this article and do think Lee Kuan Yew is a wonderful leader, I don’t feel there is any need for all the anti-British sentiments. The airport was originally built by the British for example. We had multiple airbases there. It’s the runways and taxiways that cost the money to build. Also the fine colonial buildings are another gift / legacy from the British Empire. Book into the Raffles hotel sometime and tell me that the British influence was all bad.


    Honestly I can’t see any reference that the British influence was all bad n this post. Was it really that bad?

Leave a note