An Ex-Singapore Expat Reflects On Lee Kuan Yew’s Passing

During the three years my family and I lived there, I was always aware we were living in Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore.

It was Mr. Lee, of course, who had the extraordinarily bold vision back in 1965 that the tiny patch of swampland could — and would — become a modern economic force. He wrote about it engagingly in a two-volume autobiography I gobbled up upon moving there in 2006.

Few days went by during our three-year sojourn when some evidence of modern Singapore’s enviable economic robustness and quality-of-life didn’t remind me of the miracle Mr. Lee had wrought. He didn’t do so single-handed, of course. The people of Singapore saw clearly — and grasped — their potential following the traumatic 1965 rejection by Malaysia’s short-sighted leaders.

At the same time, one couldn’t live and work in the city-state as we did during the late 2000s without also being reminded of how Mr. Lee and his political heirs kept a tight grip on Singapore society and politics even as it evolved into an otherwise modern economic powerhouse.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how Singapore evolves in a post-Lee Kuan Yew world.



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