Lee Kuan Yew – The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill (Part 2)

For Part 1, click here.

The Future of National Economic Growth. LKY is very open to talent as he believes it is an American concept. ‘We accept that whoever joins us is part of us.’ Singapore is not corrupt, with good infrastructure and language ability of the English language. Make haste slowly. The gradual introduction of English was a hallmark of Singapore’s success. He allowed parents to choose English or Chinese. It is very important to have the rule of law and not abide by Socialism. The workforce matters a lot, as it determines national competitiveness. Three attributes are vital: they are entrepreneurship, innovation and management. The rule of law is crucial to facilitate trade between many countries. Singapore’s talent pool is too small. Good values are also important. There is this fear that people will hate you if you do their job well. This negative mindset has to be eradicated. Singapore has learnt the value of industrialism from the West and Japan. A modern worker should be enterprising and innovative.

You can keep your name, Brzezinski, Berlusconi, whatever it is, you have come, join me, you are American. We need talent, we accept them. That must be our defining attribute. – Lee Kuan Yew

A people’s standard of living depends on a number of basic factors: 1) the resources it has in relation to its population; 2) Level of technology and industrial development; 3) educational and training standards; 4) culture, discipline and drive in the workforce. – Lee Kuan Yew

Those with good minds to be scholars should also become inventors, innovators, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs; they must bring new products and services to the market to enrich the lives of people everywhere. – Lee Kuan Yew

Societies that will succeed are those which easily assimilate foreigners. Silicon Valley is such a place. Not only is it ‘color blind’ and uniquely meritocratic, it has a culture that draws newcomers in. – Lee Kuan Yew

We must continue to attract as many able and talented people from China, India, the region, and from developed countries, to add to our team. Without this input of foreign talent, even the U.S. could not have been so successful. – Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans must take to heart one simple fact: unless we improve ourselves through education and training and through developing the will to be productive, our future cannot be assured. – Lee Kuan Yew

There is a dearth of entrepreneurial talent in Singapore… We have to start experimenting. The easy things – just getting a blank mind to take in knowledge and become trainable – we have done. Now comes the difficult part. To get literate and numerate minds to be more innovative, to be more productive, is not easy. It requires a mindset change, a different set of values. – Lee Kuan Yew

Workers now have to manage their own control systems, supervise themselves, and take upon themselves the responsibility to upgrade. They must be disciplined enough to think on their own and to seek to excel without someone breathing down their neck…They must be enterprising and innovative, always seeking new ways of doing the job, to create the extra value, the extra edge. – Lee Kuan Yew

The Future of Geopolitics and Globalization. Some of the problems of the Eurozone are the financial crisis and rising debt of some of the nations. North Korea is another problem. Kim Hong-un. Japan’s economic stagnation is also a problem. Iran’s nuclear program. The major nations need to stop them from acquiring nuclear weapons. Russia is declining as they are able to generate wealth apart from exporting natural resources. More Chinese from China are also moving there. Russians have a pessimistic view of the world. BRIC will not combine to form a global force. ASEAN countries need to combine their markets to fight China. However, ASEAN countries are pegged back with low growth and problems of the past. The financial crisis was due to the lack of regulation of derivatives. Global warming and climate change are a big threat to globalization. Even with medical advances in technology, global warming cannot be eradicated. Information transfer is now very fast with the advent of the Internet. LKY believes it is much harder to groom national champions by incubating them due to globalization. Technology has changed the world. Upgrading skills, level of education. ‘Lifelong learning is a must for everyone in this knowledge economy, with rapidly changing technology.’ The early Singapore brought in many MNCs. History has shown that countries with the largest number of start-ups win in the end. There is no viable alternative to global integration.

But when your life is so harsh, and from time to time it gets better when the oil price goes up, but that is momentary, you have a different view of the future. – Lee Kuan Yew

The business of a person in a financial institution is to make the biggest profit for himself, so just condemning the bankers and the profit takers does not make sense. You have allowed these rules, and they work within these rules. – Lee Kuan Yew

Recession must come from time to time. It is in the nature of the free market of the western world…People and systems tend to be carried away by exuberance. Investors get greedy and rush in to buy, believing that prices will only go up. Despair and depression then set in. – Lee Kuan Yew

A negative result of globalization is the widening of the inequality between the highly educated and the less educated, between urban and rural incomes, and between coastal and inland provinces. The highly educated can move between countries seeking the high rewards in the developed countries, especially in sectors like IT and the Internet. The less educated are not mobile and cannot get into the developed countries, where wages are higher. This is unavoidable in a world driven by market forces. – Lee Kuan Yew

There has to be a fundamental change in cultural attitudes before Japanese and other East Asians can compete with the Americans who, because of their different history, easily absorbs people of different cultures and religions into their corporate teams. – Lee Kuan Yew

There will not be any global leader who will say this ‘We are going to forgo growth. We are going to consume less. Travel less. Live a more Spartan life, and we will save the Earth. – Lee Kuan Yew

Democracy. Efficient and an effective government must provide the framework for the people to succeed. Reward people based on their contribution to society. Job creation and wealth generations are key drivers. They must also listen to the ground’s views and act on them. Leaders must know how to chart the course. Formulate solutions for the greater and common good. You either have it in you, or you don’t. LKY believes in doing what is right, not always doing the most popular thing for its people. Indonesia, Burma are examples where democracy has not worked. A democratic society must allow for choice and there must be an interested and vilgante electorate. Everyone must take a stand. The people must have disciplined to agree with the objectives of the government. Government must maximize opportunities. Is 1 person, 1 vote the best system? We adopted this from the British. LKY wanted a system where someone above 40 will be granted 2 votes, but those below 40 and above 65 will have 1 vote. Order and justice between person and person, and between person and the state is the key. You need give people the incentive to strive better. This is why the communist society collapsed.

The business of a government is to…make firm decisions so that there can be certainty and stability in the affairs of the people. The art of government is utilizing to the maximum the limited resources at the country’s disposal. – Lee Kuan Yew

Your job as a leader is to inspire and to galvanize, not to share your distraught thoughts. You make your people dispirited if you do so. – Lee Kuan Yew

A national is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people, and the quality of their leaders which ensures it an honorable place in history. – Lee Kuan Yew

I have never been over-concerned or obsessed with opinion or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind…you will go where the wind is blowing. – Lee Kuan Yew

One person, one vote is a most difficult form of government. From time to time, the results can be erratic. People are sometimes fickle. They get bored with stable, steady improvements in life, and in a reckless moment, they vote for a change for change’s sake. – Lee Kuan Yew

The rule of law talks of habeas corpus, freedom, the right of association and expression, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration. – Lee Kuan Yew

To be successful, society must maintain a balance between nurturing excellence and encouraging the average to improve. There must be both cooperation and competition between people in the same society. – Lee Kuan Yew

There is a continual need to balance between a successful, competitive society, and a cohesive, compassionate one. That requires judgment, to strike a bargain or social contract.  Each society must arrive at that optimum point for itself. Between the two ends, the highly competitive and the excessively equal, lies a golden mean. This point will move with time and changing values. – Lee Kuan Yew

How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks. Human beings are naturally vicious. Human beings are naturally very competitive and want to achieve more than the person beside them. After many generations have scattered across the whole, there are many genetic differences. LKY wants to give people equal opportunities to succeed. He experienced WWII and the Japanese occupation. That changed him. He saw how humans behave. He learned from both the British and the Japanese. LKY believes in adopting theories to suit reality. History does not repeat itself in the same way each time, but certain trends and consequences are constants. If you do not know history, you think short term. If you know history, you think medium Have the convictions to stick up and stand up for what you believe in. Humans cannot be overly challenged. He does not believe in the welfare system adopted by UK. America has a strong entrepreneurial culture, where people are not afraid of failure. His admired leaders are De Gaulle, Deng Xiaoping and Winston Churchill. Goh Keng Swee was also a very driven man who aided LKY on many decisions over the years.

I have always thought that humanity was animal-like, while Confucian theory says that it can be improved. I am not sure it can be, but it can be trained, it can be disciplined…You can make a left-hander write with his or her right hand, but you cannot really change his or her natural-born instinct. – Lee Kuan Yew

One of the facts of life is that no two things are ever equal, either in smallness or in bigness. Living things are never equal. Even in the case of identical twins, one comes out before the other and takes precedence over the other. So it is with human beings, so it is with tribes, and so it is with nations. – Lee Kuan Yew

In any given society, of the 1000 babies born, there are so many percent near-geniuses, so many percent average, so many percent morons. It is the near-geniuses and the above-average who ultimately decide the shape of things to come. We want an equal society. We want to give everybody equal opportunities. But, in the back of our minds, we never deceive ourselves that two human beings are ever equal in their stamina, in their drive, in their dedication, in their innate ability. – Lee Kuan Yew

The underlying philosophy is that for a society to work well, you must have the interests of the mass of the people, that society takes priority over the interests of the individual. This is the primary difference with the American principle, the primary rights of the individual. – Lee Kuan Yew

You must not overlook the importance of discussions with knowledgeable people. I would say that is much more productive than absorbing or running through masses of documents. Because in a short exchange, you can abstract from somebody who has immense knowledge and experience the essence of what he had gained. – Lee Kuan Yew

I may not have changed in my physical, mental and emotional make-up, the hardware side. But the software side, my responses to God, glory, or gold, has been conditioned by my experiences. In other words, however capacious the hardware (nature), without the software (nurture), not much can be made of the hardware. – Lee Kuan Yew

I do not believe that because a theory sounds good, looks logical on paper, or is presented logically, therefore that is the way it will work out. The final test is life. What happens in real life, what happens with people working in a society. – Lee Kuan Yew

The personal experience of a person determines whether he likes or hates certain things, welcomes them or fears them when they recur. So it is with nations: it is the collective memory of a people, the composite learning from past events which led to successes or disasters that makes a people welcome or fear new events, because they recognize parts in new events which have similarities with past experience. – Lee Kuan Yew

There are three basic essentials for successful transformation of any society. First, a determined leadership…two, an administration which is efficient; and three, social discipline. – Lee Kuan Yew

If you treat human beings just like animals, you just feed them, keep them sleek, well-exercised, healthy like dogs or cats, I do not think that it will work. Nations have gone through tremendous privations and hardships in order to achieve specific goals which have inspired and fired their imagination. – Lee Kuan Yew

You must want. That is the crucial thing. Before you have, you must want to have. And to want to have means to be able, first, to perceive what it is you want; secondly, how to discipline and organize yourself in order to possess the things you want; and thirdly, the grit and the stamina.- Lee Kuan Yew

Revolutionary situations throw up great leaders who demand blood, sweat and tears; comfortable circumstances produce leaders who promise people an even easier life. – Lee Kuan Yew

From my empirical observation of people and leaders, I believe 70-80% of a person’s capability, proclivities, temperament is genetic. The day you are conceived, at least 70% has already been fixed in the womb. If you are bound to be a capable person, you will grow into a capable person. If you are bound to be slow, you will be slow. – Lee Kuan Yew

I think you are a born leader or you are not a leader. You can teach a person to be a manager, but not a leader. They must have the extra drive, intellectual verve, an extra tenacity, and the will to overcome. – Lee Kuan Yew

I do not want to be remembered as a statesman. First of all, I do not classify myself as a statesman. I put myself down as determined, consistent and persistent. I set out to do something. I keep chasing it until it succeeds. That is all. – Lee Kuan Yew

I do not think I can decide how I will be remembered. I live my life in accordance to what I think is worth doing. I never wanted to be in politics. I wanted to be a lawyer and make a good living, to be a good advocate, but I was thrown into it as a result of all these political earthquakes that took place. – Lee Kuan Yew

I am not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honorable purpose. I had to do some nasty things, locking fellows up without trial. Close the coffin, then decide. Then you assess me. I may still do something foolish before the lid is closed on me. – Lee Kuan Yew


2 thoughts on “Lee Kuan Yew – The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Lee Kuan Yew – The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill (Part 1) | Book & Quote Monster

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