[Singaporean Literature]

Lee Kuan Yew on The Asian Way Forward

According to Han, Fernandez, and Tan, his biographers, Lee Kuan Yew

contended that the liberal idea that societies had to be founded on law and order, while sound, could only be applied once a certain measure of order had been established. In its absence, the idea that simply passing laws would bring about order was sadly another pious liberal hope.

He added, "The system of government in China will change. It will change in Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam. It is changing in Singapore. But it will not end up like the American or British or French or German systems. What are we all seeking? A form of government that will be comfortable, because it meets our needs, is not oppressive, and maximises our opportunities. And whether you have one-man-one-vote, or some-men-one-vote or othermen-two-votes, those are forms which should be worked out. I'm not intellectually convinced that one-man-one-vote is the best. We practise it because that's what the British bequeathed us and we haven't really found a need to challenge that." To work, he argued, the system would have to be adapted to suit the social, economic, and cultural context of the societies in which it was to be applied.

"Each country in Asia will chart its own way forward. Every country wants to be developed and wealthy. They will adopt and adapt those features or attributes of successful countries which they think will help them succeed. If these features work and improve their rate of progress, they will be permanently incorporated. If they do not work or cause difficulties, they will be abandoned. It is akin to social Darwinism, a process of trial and error in which survival is the test of what works.

[Added by GPL.]


Han Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez, Sumiko Tan. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas. Singapore: Times, 1998.

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