Zulfikar Shariff: Lee Kuan Yew Is Self-Serving Opportunist

The last few days, the PAP Internet Brigade had been trying to promote their party and the “late great LKY”. The way they speak of him is almost Messianic.

Let us understand who Lee Kuan Yew was. Let us understand his values..

He is someone who will do anything for his own benefit.

During the Japanese occupation, Lee Kuan Yew was a collaborator.

He worked with the Japanese Propaganda service (the Hodobu). At the Hodobu, Lee Kuan Yew translated English language news for the Japanese propaganda department.

He admitted to being well informed about the progress of the war “because for a year and a half….(he) was working in the propaganda department…” (Han, Fernandez, Tan 28)

And yet, this hypocritical self-interested collaborator criticised the locals who collaborated with the Japanese during occupation. He said:

“Young locals learnt enough Japanese to be employable, but beyond that most people were decent. They did not want to cooperate or collaborate with the enemy…”

Further, he referred to those who worked closely with the Japanese as

The luckiest of the opportunists according to Lee Kuan Yew were “contractors whom the Japanese needed to obtain basic supplies, or who were in building construction.”

However, he admitted to being one of this “lucky” opportunists. He was in construction and did work and supplies for the Japanese military.

With his partner, “a Shanghainese called Low You Ling… a small contractor in the construction business…we got odd jobs from Japanese companies and from the butai, the regiments that garrisoned Singapore.”

He also teamed up with a Japanese civilian Mr Kageyama to supply the Japanese military and companies.

When the Japanese started to lose the war, Lee Kuan Yew became worried.

“I decided it would be better to get out of Singapore while things were still calm, I could resign from Hodobu without arousing suspicion over my motives. I applied for leave and went up to Malaya to reconnoitre Penang and the Cameron Highlands, to find out which was the safer place.”

When he came back from Cameron Highlands, he found out that the Japanese Secret Police had become suspicious of him. He decided to stay put.

According to Lee Kuan Yew, after the Japanese surrender, “anti-Japanese groups took the law into their own hands. They lynched, murdered, tortured or beat up informers, torturers, tormentors and accomplices- or suspected accomplices- of the Japanese… But in the last days, many collaborators managed to melt away, going into hiding or fleeing upcountry to Malaya or to the Riau islands in the south.

The liberation did not bring what everybody wanted: punishment for the wicked and reward for the virtuous. There could be no complete squaring of accounts…”

If all the collaborators were arrested and punished, we probably would not have the PAP today.


Han, Fook Kwang, Sumiko Tan, and Warren Fernandez. Lee Kuan Yew: The man and his ideas. Singapore Press Holdings, 1997.

Yew, Lee Kuan. The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Vol. 1. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd, 2012.


Source: Zulfikar Shariff

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