The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (Part 2)

Assume the Worst (How Singapore Conquers Corruption). Corruption was an old problem in Singapore. We are very close to eliminating corruption. In 2014, Singapore was ranked the least corrupt state in Asia and 7th in the world. There used to be Chinese triads and secret societies in the 1960s. Our bureaucrats were not up to the task back then. Harry Lee Kuan Yew changed everything and made the eradication of corruption his priority. He survived through the war. He studied in LSE in UK, and then subsequently to Cambridge. Later, he entered private practice. He and a few friends founded PAP in 1954. Corruption was rife back then. By embarking on this campaign, it would differentiate themselves from other parties at the time. By 35, LKY was Singapore’s first PM when they won the GE in 1959. Singapore had no natural resources and there was racial tension at that time. It was 1965, and Singapore went independent after separation from Malaya. LKY realized that Singapore needed good governance. He enforced the rule of law and created a nation that was efficient and secure. He established the CPIB (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau). CPIB was granted great independence, like the power to investigate, search, perform house arrests etc. Even top government officials were taken to task for corruption. Now, CPIB has 177 staff. Also, members of the public can report anonymously on CPIB’s website. At times, the government will also punish the supervisors of corrupt officials. CPIB also engages in educational and public outreach programs. The Singapore Government also compensates its officials well, more generally than virtually any other state in the world. Singapore also imposes spending limits, keeps elections short and bans political ads. Singapore is very conducive to doing business and our economy is bigger than Philippines. The fear is that government officials might become too complacent. Fighting corruption need not be an expensive undertaking. Given its size, Singapore is more mobile and can react to threats quickly. Singapore is not a true liberal democracy and LKY has done things to keep his enemies weak and off guard. Singapore is known for restrictions on opposition parties, media etc. Many countries have wanted to learn from Singapore’s success.

Civil servants get a range of cushy benefits, from golf club memberships to discounted vacation packages, and their compensation is pegged to two-thirds the prevailing wage for equivalent private-sector work. – Jonathan Tepperman

You can have the best rules, the best anticorruption agency, but if your politicians are corrupt… nothing is going to save the system. It’s as simple as that. – K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s law Minister

Diamond’s Aren’t Forever (How Botswana Defeated the Resource Curse). Botswana had no resources after it was independent from the UK. A large part of the land was occupied by the Kalahari desert. Even the UK had little presence on the place because of the lack of resources. They didn’t invest in much. Botswana was independent in Sep 1966. There was only 1 doctor for every 26000 people and the infrastructure was non-existent. Somehow, diamond deposits were found. However, many expected the government officials quickly harvested them and leave the people in ruins. To everyone’s surprise, that didn’t happen. For over 30 years, Botswana is the number one diamond producer by value, mining and exporting etc. They have a democratic government and have never fought a war. Income levels are of global middle class. Literacy is at an impressive 87%, among other achievements. Corruption levels are very low. Their magic formula was luck, leadership, and good political and economic policymaking. The good thing was that the UK didn’t bother about them and they could start their own culture. Tswana used a system called kgotla to manage disputes. Basically, they were meetings which encouraged free speech. Major issues were debated. The people respected responsible rule and public participation. Seretse Khama was their first president until 1980. He was a crown prince of Bangwato. He studied in the UK. This gave him a strong grounding in Anglo-Saxon constitutional democracy. He married Ruth Williams, white daughter of a British army officer. Khama hated racial discrimination. He founded the Botswana Democratic Party in 1961 with Quett Masire. Botswana opened up their country to anyone who accepted its values. They also invited foreigners as consultants for their government. This helped to build up the strength of their Civil Service. They made English and Setswana their two official languages. The country managed to achieve a great level of ethnic harmony. The two leaders avoided dictating policy and ensured that there was a cabinet to approve policies. Sometimes, the public was consulted as well. It would have been easier to be a dictator and just execute whatever ideas he had straight away. Also, the government could balance its books. The earnings from diamonds had to be spent wisely. De Beers’ had to channel some of its profits to the government. The government officials were also not corrupt. They were surprisingly thrifty when it came to spending. There is also a saving culture in their people. State salaries were kept low too. Stable budgeting was used to ensure over-expenditure would be detected. With more exports, the value of currency will rise, making imports cheaper. However, this means local industries in Botswana might suffer if they are not careful. It created its own currency and invested in human development and infrastructure. Corruption is common when there are big resource profits to be made. The government launched an anti-corruption campaign. The trick was that not too much power was given to any one person. In 1981, exports fell because of a severe recession. Because of this, the government set up rainy-day funds, one for recurring expenses, one for debt payments etc. Because of this, they could build up their reserves fast. Mineral earnings could only be used for investment expenditure. Mining revenues have plateaued and there is lot of room to groom the private sector too. The current leadership is also not as competent as the first generation. Botswana has managed to reverse the resource curse.

This Land is my Land (Why the Shale Revolution Could Only Happen in the US). This is a great American story. It created the energy revolution that transformed everything. Despite its size, it could still succeed. People feared that oil and natural gas production will be hit. However, renewables are still going strong nowadays. The US managed to discover shale and unconventional oil and gas to boost its energy production. In addition, it is exporting a lot of energy. By 2020, the US will be the number 1 oil producer. The energy boom has pumped a lot of money into our economy. Peak oil has been a distant memory, and we are not running out of oil. Fracking is a dangerous process which might harm the environment. Shale boom has reduced emissions, and natural gas has replaced a substantial % of coal. Fracking has also been made safer. There is now closer monitoring and enhanced testing of well components. Fracking Safety will keep improving. However, a plunge in prices will cause the producers to suffer. Shale wells are cheaper to drill. In the 1970s, oil and gas produced slowed. Shell and Esso joined forces when drilling so as to save costs. Many of the smaller independent players could not afford to drill and find new sources of energy. US shale often lays deep underground. George Mitchell came along, he was a geologist. He kept thinking of ways to extract shale from the north east of Texas. He used water, instead of more expensive gels, to perform the fracking. Water was cheap but many thought that it was not strong enough to crack the rock. Sand and polymer lubricants were added to the water and it worked. The shale produced huge quantities of gas over a few months. This would work for oil extraction too. Mitchell deserved the compliments. The US government had its part to play too. The government paid for studies in unconventional oil and gas and also similar projects. The government also used tax credits to help firms. Public investment in technology certainly paid off in a huge way. US law grants owners not just the land rights and use of the land, but also what lies beneath it as well. Because of this, many energy companies started and wanted to compete with one another. Why have the rest of the world not bore more wells? The issue is that the US had major companies, but with also many small ones. The small ones were willing to work hard, unlike the Europeans. Europe has a lot of shale, but energy companies there fear commitment. Some of Europe has also banned shale gas operations. It is time that Europe start harvesting shale too. China is also reluctant to change as it sticks to reliable methods. Labour in China is cheaper. CNPC, CNOOC and Sinopec are huge companies, which are state-owned. China has other issues to tackle, like the water crisis etc. In recent years, brackish water can be used too. China has partnered with giants like Shell etc and tried to learn their methods. However, due to the different terrain, fracking is made more difficult. Many US companies failed before they could succeed. Also, it could be that government companies are not as nimble to think as compared to smaller companies. China still has a long way to go in extracting its shale potential. The US has been ingenious in this regard and many other countries can learn how to innovate and be as nimble as them.

Manufacture Your Miracle (How South Korea Keeps its Economy Growing, and Growing, and Growing). The North and the South went to war in June of 1950. The country was split along the 38th parallel during WWII. Seoul was decimated during the war, so was their infrastructure and economy. However, in recent times, they have managed to thrive. It is one of the richest countries. There are plenty of skyscrapers etc. The Korean male are also taller than their parents. They have experienced growth at a healthy rate for more than 50 years. In 1963, its economy took off. For other than 2 years, their economy generally expands at more than 7% per year. The country have emerged from crises stronger. It has learnt from its mistakes fast. There are 3 phases: developmental dictatorship; democratization and liberalization. Park Chung-hee was a general who seized power of the state in 1961. He came from humble beginnings. He also studied in Tokyo etc. Their exports were pathetic and many people were subsistence farmers. The Korean war ended in a draw, without resolution. The US was bailing out Korea, but at a price. The Kennedy administration didn’t like Park. Many of the citizens didn’t trust him because he had no experience in politics. He had limited appeal. Exporting goods was a good idea, but the question was what to export? There were no natural resources. Manufactured goods was a possibility. The trick was to mass produce clothes and toys for export. This proved to work and oversaw the country’s transformation. He pumped a lot of money into the country’s infrastructure. He built up a meritocratic bureaucracy. The currency was devalued to encourage exports and banks were nationalized. He jailed many of the Japanese ‘chaebols’ CEOs. Later, he worked with them and offered them incentives. Exports grow from $55 million to $1.6 billion in 10 years. Next, Park targeted other type of industries which were more value adding like electronics, automobiles, iron ore etc. Those CEOs who listened to him were rewarded. There were also protectionist measures which were necessary to protect the local industries from competition. Park was a nasty piece of work. Despite this, some people still loved him. Education improved etc. There were no denying his achievements. It was 1979 now. His successor was Chun Doo-hwan, another General. Some of the corporate leaders were becoming very rich and there was income disparity. In 1987, Korea ceased to be an authoritarian state. Roh Tae-woo was the new President after Chun was overthrown. The chaebol kept growing and intimidated others. Chaebol kept growing and was a threat to others. Everything crashed in 1998, during the Asian Financial crisis. Exports collapsed and the currency value halved. IMF had to bail Korea out and many of the big MNCs laid people off. Kim Dae-jung was elected as President. He started the economic liberalization campaign. He believed in profit and growth. He did not resort to short term populist policies. He got rid of many redundant ministries and restructured some of the major firms. In a strange move, he allowed the underperforming big firms to die or be bought over. Daewoo’s crash prompted a turn-around in Korea’s fortunes. His hard measures helped kick start the economy again. Chaebol were associated with poor quality goods. They were forced to innovate under Kim and had to welcome outside expertise. In the past few years, growth has slowed to 3 to 4% only. Heavy state intervention can be helpful if used at the right time. Instead of causing inefficiencies, it helped. The government did not reward corporate leaders much. If you underperformed, you’d get cut off. However, when technology improves, it is more useful to let the private sector take charge rather than protecting local firms. Despite all its problems, South Korea is still a successful country. Being open-minded and nimble was one of its big successes.

Give to Get (How Mexico Got Its Government Going Again). Pena Nieto was Mexico’s president. However, he was in trouble as he allowed drug lords to escape from prison. Their economy tanked also. However, in actual fact, Mexico hasn’t have such a bad democracy. In Latin America, it is quite big. In 2013, 2014, Nieto did very well indeed. Corruption and crime needs to be brought under better control. He managed to unite the 3 parties warring with each other. One of the parties is Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Nieto was from PRI. However, some criticized him as Nieto was linked to the party’s elite. He had a poor command of English and had a complicated marriage etc. He won the election in 2012 and had to prove people wrong. He brought 3 feuding parties together: National Action Party (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Nieto managed to bust monopolies, re-structure the energy sector and education system, tax laws etc. It was revolutionary indeed. Before 2012, Mexico was disastrous. Their extraction of natural resources had slowed. Corruption was rife and the economy was ruled by some wealthy oligarchs. PRI and PAN couldn’t get along in the past as one would always oppose their bills in parliament, causing deadlock. After 15 years of infighting, the leaders realized that it was useless and it was time to change. Nieto won with 38% of the vote and realized he needed the support of his enemies. PAN also woke up and realized they weren’t doing well. The two parties started to negotiate. Teaming up with other parties was useful, but it was also necessary to take on bullying oligarchs, unions etc. Nieto was not handpicked by his predecessor. He initiated talks with the other 2 parties for reconciliation. These talks were also kept secret. The energy sector was opened up to market forces. Marriage of conveniences do not last long. It will take time for some of their reforms to work. For structural changes, it takes time to materialize. Job creation has shown signs of improving. However, crime rates remains high. The drug cartels have killed many people.

Gruesome as it was, the slaughter was hardly unprecedented in Mexico. The country has suffered all too many massacres over the years; indeed, an estimated 100,000 people have been killed alone since 2007. – Jonathan Tepperman

DIY Defense (NYC and the Art of the Work-Around). The US federal government is dysfunctional at times. It was 11 Sep 2001. 9/11 was interpreted differently by many people. Michael Bloomberg was the mayor of NY. There was little protection for NYC too and national security was an issue. New York had to try to defend itself. Bloomberg started looking for cops to protect the city. He found Ray Kelly. The federal government didn’t offer NY much help. Tourism was badly hit after 9/11 and Bloomberg needed to restore the city. There was little counterterrorism work and poor co-ordination between FBI and NYPD.



The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (Part 1)

How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

Introduction. This book is about success stories which the author has seen for himself. This is about finding solutions in an uncertain world. It is possible to overcome the problems if the right strategies are adopted. The negative news in the media can easily overwhelm you. Life is difficult and some of us have problems to make ends meet. Many Americans are not optimistic about the economy. After 2008, things seemed to go downhill. Even in Russia, there is negative economic growth rate now. In 2011, there was conflict in the Middle East. The US-Iran nuclear deal has been a disaster. Growth is predicted to slow down. Greece almost went bankrupt, the EU is no longer as united as before. ISIS is gaining ground again. Many refugees are heading to Europe. China’s economy is also slowing down. The emerging-market growth rate from 7.4% to 3.8% between 2010 and 2015. The liberal, rules based global order doesn’t seem to be working all that well now. A lot of our global failures is due to the failure of politicians to lead. We need to understand the problems actually and notice that they can be fixed. The stories in the book will show that it is indeed possible to solve. The first problem is inequality. It can certainly pose a lot of problems for us. The income gap in the US is widening and the poor get more disgruntled. The solution is to grow the economy in the past. A lot of corporate profits might be ending up in the hands of the rich. The second big issue is immigration. Many of the displaced are heading to Europe. Trump denounced immigration in a harsh manner. Attacking immigrants might not be the best solution overall. A lot of bright Americans are not retained by their country. The fact is that there is little evidence that immigrants cause a lot of trouble. Although Germany has let refugees in, they are not given the support to integrate in society and they end up causing trouble in the end. The third big issue is Islamic extremism. The Syrian rebel forces were allowed to grow and the Islamic State was formed. The Jihadists seem to be expanded in recent years. Civil War is the next big issue to hit us. Iraq is now in a big mess after the US troops pulled out. There are other civil wars in Africa, Syria etc too. Corruption is the next big issue to face us. Corruption tends to affect both poor and rich countries alike. This often leaves the poor at a disadvantage. It undermines the trust in the government and the system of rule. The Resource Curse is our next big issue (6th). Africa is known to have a lot of untapped natural resources. However, will they be able to handle this wealth? They might invest in the wrong things that do not aid the people. It is also common for resource-rich countries to be run by dictators as you can bribe your people to win yourself votes. Energy is also a big concern. There was a shale revolution in recent years. A lot of the countries that have shale are unlikely going to tap on them. The next big issue is that of the Middle-Income Trap. It is hard to reach the developed country status as there needs to be productivity increases. It might sound easy, but politicians are not up to the task. Many countries know what to do, but executing it is hard. The next major problem is gridlock I. Infighting among political parties in Mexico, Italy etc have caused many problems. Even though India’s Modi is good, he is still facing gridlocks. Despite all the problems in the World, it is not wise to abandon hope. We just need to look for the right fix.

Profits to the People (How Brazil Spreads its Wealth). How did the former Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, turn inequality into a manageable problem? Economic growth is not working the way it is used to. Thomas Piketty suggested a global wealth tax. However, the rich can get around paying tax and it might get controversial. How did Brazil do it? It is hard to imagine Brazil as a model for anything. Brazil is blessed with resources and a young population. Many are living on less than $2 a day. However, by 2011, its economy was growing by 4% a year. Inequality fell as well. Lula had a 87% approval in 2012. Lula had humble beginnings. He worked hard and climbed in the Sao Bernardo Metalworks. Later, he founded the leftist Workers’ Party. He lost the president election 3 times. Many people didn’t trust him at the start and Brazil was in shambles in 2002. However, his predecessor, Cardoso’s structural reforms were not popular. Lula listened closely to the ground and understood the problems people faced. He cut spending and reduced budget deficit and demanded a budget surplus when he took officer in 2003. Within 6 months, their bond value had risen by 20%. Now, he launched a social welfare campaign. His programme handed people money instead of goods or services. These were effect at eradicating poverty. Many denounced the idea as giving the poor dietary staples would be more practical. The food programme launched in the past was a flop as corruption was rife. It was shown that many families did not squander the money. The scheme would be targeted at those in extreme poverty. However, it came with conditions, like parents needed to send kids to school, women needed to go for checkups etc. The critics thought that the money would be better used to build schools etc. There was also concern for welfare dependency. He made the public feel that they ‘earned’ the cash by fulfilling the conditions. Lula had issues dealing with non-compliance with conditions. Also, he had to deal with undeserving candidates applying to the scheme. It worked after he set up a ministry to deal with these issues. The trick was to imposing conditions for assistance. The programme does not give out excessive amounts of money, just enough for the family to get by. It is a cheap antipoverty programme. It was certainly an innovative welfare program. Lula also adopted conservative macroeconomic policies. He offered large firms cut-rate loans. He was not upset that the rich got richer. He wanted the greatest good for all. The results of his policies were great. Bolsa Familia, the social welfare programme, worked wonders. In addition, vaccination rates are increasing, infant mortality is dropping etc. The poorest Brazilians are also more optimistic about their futures. The money was paid directly to the beneficiary, with no intermediary. The rich do not care about the programme as it is run cheaply. Even in 2006, when Lula was allegedly accused of corruption, he still won. Lula was an everyday man who could relate to the poor. However, despite this, there are still 28 million Brazilians living in poverty. The good thing is that the payments given out are quite low and people are still incentivized to work. Many of the international media have lauded this programme as being successful. Many other developing countries are also trying to learn from Bolsa Familia.

If there’s one thing I’m not ashamed of, it’s profit. But I want people to know that my philosophy, at heart, is that of a mother. No one is fairer than a mother. Even if she has 300 kids, she will treat them all equally. That’s what I used to say to the Brazilian people: that I govern for all. – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Let the Right Ones In (Canada’s Immigration Revolution). The middle of the last century was turbulent indeed. In the 1940s, Canada were strict with their immigration policies. Justin Trudeau is their new PM. They took in Syrian asylum seekers. Canada has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. More than 20% of their population is foreign born. People from the Philippines, China and India are there too. Many of their residents don’t mind. There is sufficient public support. There has not been anti-immigrant riots in the last half a century. The government has been good at convincing the people that immigration is a necessity and is good. Pierre Elliott Trudeau was PM from 1968 to 1984. He was extremely charming and smart. He studied in the UK at LSE and gained a holistic picture of the world. The French militant group caused havoc in Quebec in 1967. Trudeau took power in 1968. Trudeau transformed Canada from a bi-national one to a multicultural one. The two language policy of French and English won’t cut it. He wanted to treat the minorities better. He also set up the Human Rights Commission in 1978. He wanted to create a distinctly Canadian identity. Some politicians in Europe have denounced multi-cultural policies. For Trudeau, he still wanted to keep the native and core culture intact. There were two problems: cultural divide and the assimilation of immigrants. It is the world’s second largest state by landmass. There was also a push by the government to increase its population due to the large land mass. In addition, many workers were moving to the US from Canada. In the 1940s, Asians were largely not accepted. In 1962, Canada abandoned ethnicity as a basis for evaluating immigrants. However, Ottawa was slow to adopt this new stance and there were still issues. Later on, the point system was created based on 9 criteria: education, age, fluency in English etc. More non-Europeans entered the country. In the US, immigration still centers on family reunification as the primary entry criteria. However, in Canada, it was different. Ottawa now focuses on formal education. Trudeau oversaw the development of Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All these policies have helped avoid the backlash that modern economies have faced in recent years. Indeed, the immigrants rely less on welfare and their employment rate is also highest in the OECD. This definitely helped to overcome the shrinking and aging workforce. Many see immigration as a way to strengthen nation’s identity. Brits are very hostile towards immigration. The immigration story of Canada has a lot to do with pragmatism and necessity than idealism. The US should study Canada’s success story

There cannot be one cultural policy for Canadians of British and French origin, another for the original peoples, and yet a third for all others. – Jonathan Tepperman

Canada has the highest naturalization rate in the world, with 85% of eligible permanent residents becoming citizens. That’s important because citizens are more likely than guests to invest in their new homeland and be welcomed for doing so. – Jonathan Tepperman

Kill Them With Kindness (How Indonesia Crushed and Co-opted Its Islamic Extremists). In 1998, Indonesia tossed their leader out of office. It has more than 10000 islands. Suharto was a tyrant, but at least he was competent. He kept the economy growing at 7% per annum during his 30 year reign. Although it is a Muslim state, where 90% of the people are Muslims, he crushed those who tried to make it more Islamic. People feared that Islamist militias would start bombing the place. Now, Indonesia is a stable democracy. Terror attacks are rare. The majority do not believe in extremism, unlike in the Middle East. They are close to eliminating the threat of extremist violence. Islam was never imposed in Indonesia in the past. The people are more open minded. The Islamist political parties are also not competent. The irony thing is that as the population became more devout, Islamic extremism declined. Although people want to embrace sharia law, they don’t like the way it is being enforced. Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono managed to do a good job on this front. They all wanted to consolidate the country’s fragile freedoms. The leaders wanted to seem popular by appealing to the common Man. Wahid was a sick old man, but his pluralistic policies were lauded. Megawati was related to Sukarno and didn’t tackle the issues well. However, she got the army out of politics. Yodhoyono was a democrat at heart, despite being an Army General. SBY also protected the minorities and guarded against discrimination. He also actively eradicated corruption. He launched major anti-poverty campaigns. Between 2006 and 2011, Indonesia did very well and doubled exports. Indonesia also learnt that attempts to eliminate Islamic parties like in Egypt have failed. They invited some of these parties into their coalition and cabinet. This was a very intelligent move. Megawati reacted to the Bali bombings and set up an anti-terror unit. It was called Detachment 88. Many of the JI members have been killed or captured. Also, they have been able to dig information out of the criminals. Also, they have tried to rehabilitate those who can be helped. Those prisoners who co-operate are rewarded as well. In July 2014, Joko Widodo was elected as President. He seems even more democratic than SBY and seems willing to fight extremism too. He also doesn’t have an elite background. He is also very into technology and knows the benefits of it. Jokowi is often compared to Obama, who doesn’t have a lot of national and international experience. He is a symbol of hope.

Learn to Live with It (Rwanda’s Wrenching Reconciliation). Rwanda’s Hutu majority tried to exterminate the country’s Tutsi minority. It happened in 1994. Kagame was the then leader of Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army who was fighting the Hutu-led government. The Inkotanyi, Tutsi insurgents, managed to prevail. Rwanda was decimated by the war. Many of the Tutsis were slaughtered. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries. Many of them were suffering from post-traumatic stress as well. The President had to heal the situation and restore order to Rwanda. The government had to deal with genocides. Kagame had to deal with the genocide suspects. There were not enough jails to house these people. Trials alone were not enough, and justice had to be served. In addition, it would not help the victims in somehow forgiving their perpetuators. Kagame was a real pragmatist. The strategy for recovery had 4 parts. The first was that RPF would establish a strong force and build a unified garrison state and control the country. Next, the government would invest in economic growth and build institutions. This included boosting human capital and providing free health care. Corruption was also stamped out. Kagame also tried to turn Rwanda into a race-blind nation. The government created 12 thousand village tribunals to hear the cases. The trials would not last for many days. It would promote both justice and reconciliation, not one or the other. Communities could select their judges, based on their integrity levels. Thus, the people had a say. Gacaca was an ambitious transitional justice projects. Kagame was criticized as many criminals managed to get away with a lighter sentence if they were co-operative. In addition, the judges were not trained. Gacaca was not a perfect system, but they managed to see many cases and speed up the process. It was a good interim measure given the severity of the situation. The tribunals also encouraged engagement between the victims and perpetuators. It also emphasized community service as a form of rehabilitation. The country is in much better shape now. Many people have been lifted out of poverty. A vast majority of Rwandans supported Gacaca. Hutus and Tutsis now live peacefully together. It was a form of enforced unity, but it works I guess. Kagame has become a polarizing figure in the last few years. His critics target his human rights record and intolerance for dissent. His government has been accused of killing Hutu soldiers and civilians. Many nations can learn from Rwanda after their civil war. Usually after a civil war, it helps to take a more radical approach. Rwanda invented a solution, Gacaca, which was tailor made to their own organization. That was remarkable indeed.


Great Again by Donald J. Trump (How to Fix Our Crippled America)

You Gotta Believe. I realized that there were many naysayers in my life. These include some politicians and lobbyists. Unemployment has been at a high. Congress has been deadlocked and can’t make decisions easily. 45 million Americans are stuck in poverty. President Putin is putting together a coalition in Syria. Our leaders are failures in the military front and wasted trillions in the Middle East. I want to do something great for our country. I have an outstanding business track record. My brand is associated with success. I strongly aim to stop illegal foreign immigrants into our country. I persevered to fight a strong campaign despite all the odds. I say the truth and do not mince my words. In this book, I will state some of my plans for the US. What the US is better leadership. This book will give me a better understanding of my future. It is time to turn America around.

Winning Again. America needs to start winning again. America shouldn’t be bullied. We need to walk away from unfair negotiations. The nuclear treaty with Iran is just one example. Also, we are bringing in too many refugees from Syria to destroy our country. How can we start winning again? Congress hasn’t done much for the people. We need smart people to run things and manage things. Many journalists cast doubts on my abilities. My job is to prove people wrong. Even Hispanics, black people and women are listening to me because they are frustrated with the current regime. I create jobs, build buildings etc. I do not need to make anyone happy. Winning matters a lot.

I’m a practical businessman who has learned that when you believe in something, you never stop, you never quit, and if you get knocked down, you climb right back up and keep fighting until you win. That’s been my strategy all my life. – Donald Trump

Our ‘Unbiased’ Political Media. The media loves me. People sincerely need to hear the truth. Megyn Kelly is certainly one that was against me. Throughout my life, I am known to be a winner. Some people question my temperament. The more the press flames me, the more attention I get. With this attention on me, I can use it to my advantage. I give viewers what they want. My relationship with the media is mutually profitable. There are of course journalists who are decent and whom I respect. Criticism doesn’t affect me much. Sometimes, the media exaggerates on the wrong aspects of things. I deeply respect Hispanics and black people. I am not afraid of the political media.

I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. – Donald Trump

I find the people who are the best in the world at what needs to be done, then I hire them to do it, and then I let them do it… but I always watch over them. – Donald Trump

Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors. My immigration policy certainly attracted a lot of attention. A lot of countries were dumping their bad people on us. I later said that I would build a great wall to stop them from coming. We need to take greater action. We need to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Too many people have been ignoring the problem. Immigration is good if the people coming in are of quality. We have problems tracking who is coming into our country. There is a need to stop illegal immigration. Some of the Mexicans in our country are up to no good. The Chinese had the courage to build the Great Wall of China. The wall will be a superb one. Construction will begin and Mexico will pay for it. The trick is to get the criminals out. I would also increase the number of immigration officers. Also, there is a need to enforce visa regulations. I want to make it clear that legal immigration is okay. Our immigration policy needs to make our country great again.

Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace. Our foreign policy is messed up. We need to learn to operate from a position of strength. We need to push for what we want to create alliances. To protect others, we need to be paid for it. We need to better fund our military budget. There is a need to better pay our military and give them better benefits. Many of the wealthy countries are being defended by us for free. We spent too much money in Iraq without reaping the benefits. If you want to fight a war, there needs to be a clear objective. We should only fight to further national interests. To me, Iraq is of no threat and our plan to leave was a failure. Without Iraq, Iran would dominate. We need to fight the Islamic State. To get rid of ISIS, it would be useful to bomb their oil fields. That oil is the source of their wealth. Iran is a threat to us, because they are a threat to Israel. President Obama negotiated a horrible deal with Iran. The US cannot allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. I want to shut down their nuclear program. China is also quietly building up their military strength. They also hold a lot of our debt. They also devalue their currency, upsetting the balance of trade. We need their trade more than we need them. How are going to compete with them? To me, they have destroyed entire industries by using of low wage workers. I would like them to stop devaluing their currency. We buy almost 20% of all their exports. Now, we need to get tough with them. It is important to hold our cards and not to reveal our plans so soon. It is better to remain unpredictable. One should learn to keep the cards close to the vest. Everything begins with a strong military.

Education: A Failing Grade. My father understood the value of education. I also understood the value too and studied at the Wharton School of Finance at uPenn. How do we give the best education to our kids? Common Core doesn’t seem to work and the one size fit all approach doesn’t work. I believe in locally run education instead. Leave no student behind. We cannot fail our children anymore. In the military academy, I understood the meaning of discipline. We need a kid who can win. Teachers and students need to want more and not keep lowering the standards. Students need to learn persistence. Competition makes you stronger and I believe it is useful. Let the schools compete for the right to admit kids. Fostering competition improves the quality of education. Charter schools have also better performance than ordinary schools. The schools in the urban areas have a lot of work that needs to be done. The unions have a monopoly and I am not a big fan of them. We need to pay teachers more so as to attract them to the profession. There is a need to instil better discipline in schools to make it a safe environment for learning. The cost of education is also skyrocketing and needs to be controlled. Our society is also becoming more paper-chase in nature and many aspire to have a degree. The federal government should not be taking profit on student loans.

The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air. The experts are not clear what they are doing. They can’t predict extreme weather accurately. There are many more pressing issues than climate change. To be honest, most Americans do not bother about climate change. Not every natural disaster is man-made. We are also spending a few billion dollars to develop technologies which we don’t need. Oil prices are too high. The fact is that there is still a lot of natural energy underground, sufficient for us to use for a few centuries. We are highly dependent on oil. We are often held hostage by the OPEC and then oil cartel. The US needs to drill our own oil. The Middle East is also unstable and all the more, we need to rely on our own sources of oil. Our priority is to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. To me, solar panels do not make economic sense and the cost exceeds the benefits. At least at the current stage of technology, it is not viable to be considered. Wind turbines are also troublesome. Bill Gates wants to invest in renewable energy research. Even wind power can emit more carbon dioxide if it is powered by gas-fired generation. To extract more oil, we will need fracking as well. This is also a great way to create new jobs for our economy.

Health Care is Making Us All Sick. I know how to buy good medical coverage at reasonable costs. Our ‘affordable care’ act was not very useful. Obamacare was too complex to be understood. The premiums are always increasing and it will get worse. It has to be repealed and replaced. Deductibles are way too high and even doctors are not happy. The paperwork is a nightmare. There is definitely a need for real healthcare reform and the single-payer system should not work. We should not cut either Social Security or Medicare benefits. The best way forward is to let people purchase different insurance companies across state lines. Increased competition will help to drive down prices.

It’s Still the Economy, Stupid. Many people doubted me. I am filthy rich. Most politicians do not have commercial experience and do not know how to pass a budget. That is really embarrassing. Many of them do not have the requisite leadership qualities. What we need is tough leadership to keep us going. Obama plays golf, but not with the right people. I love to shake up the status quo. This is leadership. Free market works, but only with good leadership. I will re-look at the tax code and ensure it should be biased towards the rich. Our national debt is too high and cannot afford to be any higher. Some people have suggested cutting social Security to reduce debt. We should not touch that money as many people rely on it. However, some of the rich people will not need Social Security. Jobs are being lost and the ‘real’ unemployment rate is over 20%. Whole industries have simply moved overseas because they could not compete. I sure know how to create jobs for the people. For instance, I do this via construction of golf courses, hotels etc. We shall start by negotiating better trade agreements. We have to bring back the jobs which we have lost along the way.

Our country is going through a bad time – I get it, and I know how to solve it. I’m a fighter. Knock me down, and I come back even stronger. I love it! – Donald Trump

Nice Guys can Finish First. I don’t mince my works. I will only do what is right for my country. I am very loyal to my family and friends. Terry Lundgren was not a loyal guy. I have an on-going lawsuit with Univision. Illegal immigration is a big issue and I am not afraid to talk about it. The American people seem to love me because I stand up for what I believe in and stand for their interests. A great leader should hold his principles and yet be savvy at negotiations. Many of the politicians can’t speak freely because they have to protect their own interest groups etc. My dad was a special man, who I learned a lot from.

That has always been my philosophy: If my critics attack me, then I’ll fight back. – Donald Trump

Lucky to be American. I won the ovarian lottery to be born in the US. With US citizenship, it conferred many rights. I fly the American flag in front of my house. The US flag is a symbol of equality, hope and fairness. Our soldiers are not being given enough protection in combat situations. We need to treat our war veterans better. The Department of Veterans Affairs is too political and not run competently. We will take good care of our veterans.

Being born in this country is a matter of luck. Being grateful and proud of this country and what it represents and honouring the people who have protected it is a privilege I am proud to share with all Americans. – Donald Trump

The Right to Bear Arms. In the second Amendment, people have the right to keep and bear arms. The government should trust the people with arms and the right to use them to defend themselves. I feel safer when I own guns. I also have a concealed-carry permit with me. There should be tests and people need to pass before they can carry guns. We need to start prosecuting violent criminals. Violent crime is bad in our inner cities. The Project Exile program, where if a criminal gets caught committing a crime with a gun, he would get 5 years jail at a minimum, worked. This project will help our community to become safer. Protecting ourselves is a big responsibility. We have to be vigilant when we spot crimes. People with mental issues should not be allowed to carry guns. For mass murderers, there are usually red flags that were not picked up before they committed the crimes. We need to revamp our mental health care system. The right to keep and bear arms is essential for law-abiding citizens.

Our Infrastructure is Crumbling. The conditions of our airport are simply horrible. Our infrastructure is deteriorating badly. It is falling apart and bridges have collapsed. Some of them might even be dangerous. LAX is a disaster as compared to airports in other cities. The power grid is out of date and can’t meet our power needs. The roads are filled with potholes. We really need to improve the infrastructure in our country. I have the ability to transform dilapidated buildings and make it better. It will be a massive undertaking but our infrastructure needs to be solved and improved for all Americans. In the process, jobs will be created. This will be one of my main priorities, to repair the infrastructure. This will help brings the jobs back.

Values. Rich people may not be nice. To me, family and religion make a big part in happiness. My parents were big influences in my life. I am always there for my kids. The church also had a strong influence on me. To me, the Bible is the most important book ever written. I try to visit church every Sunday. I have given women employees much freedom and treat them as equals.

I’m not going to pretend that being rich doesn’t offer a lot of wonderful opportunities, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happy. I’ve learned that wealth and happiness are two completely different things. – Donald Trump

A New Game in Town. The White House needs business acumen. We should be winning and not losing. I put my names on the products etc. We need to step up and make America brave again. Putin ignores Obama now. I am committed to the nation. You must not be away from walking away from a bad deal. When I make business deals, I keep pushing and pushing. We need to restore law and order in our courtrooms. My main message is ‘To America Great Again’.

Stand behind your word, and make sure your word stands up. – Donald Trump

Teaching the Media Dollars and Sense. Our media is hardly ‘objective’. Our media is very dishonest. Reporters like to twist the words and change what I want to say. However, it doesn’t bother me. I really respected my father as a friend and a mentor. I am the richest President in US history. I try my best to be accurate when filing my financial statements. Our country needs to stand up and fight.

A Tax Code that Works. Our tax system doesn’t work and is too complicated. I would want to provide tax relief for middle-class Americans. I want to provide security for its people. We need to eliminate deductions and loopholes for the very rich. I will also simplify the tax brackets. We need to grow the US economy and cannot let it standstill. I will make repatriation of money back to the US at a lower rate. This will ensure our country will be successful. Many of our US businesses are leaving the country and setting up shop outside the country. SMEs are the engine of our economy. How will you pay for this tax plan. This be largely paid via tax on the rich. We throw away billions of dollars each year and it is time we stop it. We want to bring the jobs back, for good this time.

Making America Great Again. I revived Commodore, a horrible building in a struggling city. I saw that it had potential. I never gave up persuading leads in order to secure the rights to build it. I worked with the cities and banks etc. The hotel was named the Grand Hyatt. This is my Trump quality brand. We can make our country great again. I have a vision where we need to accomplish our goals and ensure that we stand up to our enemies. I always emerge from our challenges and come up stronger. I will really do what it takes to make America great again. There is also a need to stop illegal immigration into our country. We also need a viable energy policy to use resources to power us back into economic prosperity. I have a proven track record. It is definitely important to learn to dream big. For the deals I have made, it certainly wasn’t easy and involved a lot of liaising work. Full employment is very important. Our best days have not passed us yet.




Singapore in Transition by Han Fook Kwang (Part 2)


This will never happen in Singapore. The state of cleanliness is troubling. Taiwanese people carry their trash with them. People were very hospitable when I visited. They do not wait for the government to solve their problems. They solve them. This is known as social capital. Singapore often pulls people apart. We need people to work together.

Maid industry needs a cleanup. Removing levy scheme and including amount under minimum wage a win-win deal for all. There has been increasing demand for domestic workers in recent years. Quality has suffered. Singapore also uses the levy system. Agencies have to look for low quality, lower cost maids. Most of them have rural backgrounds. HK has a minimum wage for them. It could be a win-win for employers. The Indonesian and Philippine government should establish a common maid agency.

The dirty truth about Singapore. Singaporeans’ poor social graces a result of a weak sense of community. Singaporeans seldom recycle goods. The service quality in Taiwanese restaurants was better than Singapore’s. The staff were polite and enthusiastic. Japanese have courteous behavior and are public-spirited. We, as a society, certainly have work to be done. There needs to be a strong sense of community and identity among the people. We need to look out for one another. Forging strong bonds requires hard work and effort. It isn’t easy to build a civic society.

To get our politics right, get the people sector right. This is where values needed to work together for larger good are cultivated. The author feels that the economy is not as strong as before. He feels that in areas like volunteerism, donations to charities, Singapore is sorely lacking. We do not do our best to help our fellow citizen. A free market society tends to reward the individual more than the community. There is a need to develop the people sector. Civil society is more vibrant than ever before. Singapore is at a turning point.

A world apart and invisible? Beyond their economic contributions, there’s little interest in what foreign works do, how they cope. Dec 8 was the Little India riots. Many Singaporeans hate dormitories with foreign workers. Maybe the foreign workers are transient too and do not want to interact with Singaporeans. Singaporeans need to reach out to them more. Most of them are not illiterate and not extremely poorly educated. Many workers take a year to repay their loans to get to Singapore via agent. Often, some employers do not pay employees on time. The good thing is that foreign workers are protected by the Employment Act. Singaporeans need to change our attitudes towards them.

How to be a smart city (technology not included). People’s actions matter more in making city a better place to live in. There is a new Smart Nation Programme Office. It’s about using technology to enhance performance. Singapore can emulate these 3 places in the world. In Singapore, you just have to throw rubbish down your rubbish chute, where it is much easier. We could use different coloured bins for disposal of different type of rubbish. Have bicycle lanes for cycling. There are many areas where Singapore can work in.

Don’t let hawker fare disappear. The odds are stacked against hawkers – the hours are long, prices of ingredients are high and the public won’t pay more. The food is cheap and you can’t find these sort of prices worldwide. Hawker food is uniquely Singapore. However, it might be a dying trend. Their wages are low and it is tedious work. The government should try to rejuvenate the business and encourage more to take up hawker fare.


Why I am Still Writing on Transport. Mr Sim Kee Boon believed that we could solve any problem if we focused hard. Issues like car population, encouraging people to take public transport still exists. Should Singapore transport system follow HK? Here, we use government Iinked corporations. COE definitely helped, but car prices fluctuate a lot nowadays. The government also has control over how it works.

Should transport system go the HK way? There is greater competition, which spurs innovation, but less order and control. We have strong central planning capabilities, which are good. Many foreigners have praised our transport system. HK also runs the place well. People in HK are even more reliant on public transport than anything else. Competition is fierce among the different transport providers in HK. There is a sole train player, MTR Corporation. There is less restructuring of bus routes vs MTR in HK. Singapore prefers to have fewer players in the market.

Car ownership scheme should be better managed. No policy should result in arbitrary price movements with no relation to economy. In order to raise COE prices, government can reduce the supply of COEs and lower ownership taxes. They can also relax the lending requirements for owning a car. The government often defends themselves by saying that market prices dictate the price of the COE. The COE market isn’t a free market as it artificially controlled. The government reduced supply of COEs too drastically, that caused an issue. In major cities, many people do not drive and take public transport. Examples include cities like Tokyo, London, New York etc.

Taxi woes and the ghost of 1985. Why that is with so many taxis on the road, taxi queues are often very long. The government decided to raise taxi fares. However, the public stopped using their services and demand fell. Later on, they let the taxi companies regulate their own fares. Taxi demand can be unpredictable. Fees must be able to be set sufficiently so that taxi drivers can make a decent living.

The road to new model of public transport. Singapore’s public transport was overhauled. Is a two company operator model bad? LTA needs to be a strong regulator and planner and understand transport requirements. They will also need to understand our bus operators. There is now the progressive wage model. How much subsidy should the government give bus companies to operate?

Shrinking pool of engineer poses national risk. Are our engineers competent enough? We need to have top-notch engineers. Many top students choose not to take engineering. Now, government is making changes to career development of engineers. There needs to be a steady stream of fresh recruits. We are not known to be an engineering powerhouse. NUS and Keppel Corp are developing cutting edge research facilities. Buying the technology from overseas is one thing, but we still need to maintain them at home.

Satellite-based ERP: Great technology but what’s the policy? This will happen in 2020. The more you use the roads, the more you will have to pay. However, this system doesn’t cost cheap. What is our policy going to be? Shouldn’t policies be settled before you call tender on this new technology? Shouldn’t there be more debate on such important matters?

Odds and Ends – Why I write. These are articles with no one theme. I often comment on public issues. I often like receiving alternative viewpoints on issues. Writing can force readers to think more deeply on pressing national issues, which I think is healthy.

Singtel vs Starhub: It gets curiouser and curiouser. There is huge competition between the two in pay-TV. However, there is no common box for the 2 telcos yet. This is a big problem. Singtel, in the past, won the rights to broadcast the BPL. This incurred the wrath of Starhub and consumers were forced to absorb the higher cost. Everyone ends up paying more in the end. Perhaps, they should devote more time into developing their own content.

Insurers should treat customers better. If they can’t explain premium increases and policy changes plainly, they need closer regulation. I had to play twice the premiums suddenly for virtually the same coverage. Insurance companies can just raise premiums as and when they like. There should be some degree of stability in the premiums to be paid. Those with no claims should be allowed to pay less also. There needs to be minimum standards of transparency and disclosure necessary.

Doctors v Doctors. Action must be taken to curb overcharging and ensure industry is in the pink of health. Surgery rates in the private hospitals are increasing at exponential rates. The Government has abolished guidelines on professional fees. Medical insurance has led to escalating costs. Measures should be put in place to control these costs. Wealthy foreigners also come to Singapore to receive health treatments, and this results in inflated costs. Most doctors are not motivated by money, but by a higher calling. The Singapore Medical Council needs to look more into such cases. Doctors still need to meet ethical and professional standards.

Build a winning football team…and national spirit. Make a strong commitment to take care of careers and lives of those selected for national duty. To be successful, we need a great domestic league and a system to identify talented individuals. Average S league attendances have not been good. The game is also dominated by Malays. Many parents feel a football career is too short. Our football budget is not high enough. As a result, some of our talented youngsters go overseas. Football is important as it is great for the nation to bond.

Set aside places in top schools for needy, bright children. There is the Straits Times pocket money fund. Is there a link between poverty and poor grades? Obviously if you have to worry about things at home, you will have less energy to focus on your studies. However, giving these kids pocket money can go a long way for them to take part in more school activities. Poverty has been shown to produce stress/anxiety, resulting in people’s worse decision making abilities. However, more still can be done.

There’s a haze twin that is more dangerous. Finding solutions harder in haze of ignorance and misinformation. Singapore has been trying to pinpoint which are the companies who have been polluting. Haze is taking its toll on public health. In Indonesia, the situation is of course much worse and babies have died because of the haze.

To improve education, go beyond the classroom. Instead, focus on aspects which impact community and society. In Japan, students have to bring their tablecloth, collect their food, scrub the floor and clean their own toilets. Through this, they learn to care for their environment. What happens outside the classrooms are also important. The Japanese people are known for their civic consciousness and social responsibility. Many students overseas also do part-time work in addition to studying.

Singapore In Transition

Singapore in Transition by Han Fook Kwang (Part 1)

Hope, anxiety and question marks

Introduction. He was the editor of the Straits Times from 2002 to 2012. Fook Kwang writes regularly columns in The Sunday Times. We are a more rounded society now. Singapore is thriving for more civic participation and diversity of views. How can the economy continue to grow He has learnt to take feedback in his stride.

Politics. In 1989, he joined the Straits Times as a journalist. Technology and social media changed how people viewed society and politics. The public is more outspoken nowadays. Are the leaders out of touch with what is happening on the ground? The public is becoming more demanding nowadays. GE 2011 showed what happens if the government doesn’t change fast enough. Fear is always still present. It is important to read and think about the articles.

The trouble with $2,200 bikes and $600 chairs. Why were Singaporeans so upset with these purchases? The bidding period for quotations would increase from 4 to 7 days. The issue was not unfair evaluation but also the sheer cost of the bikes. Spending $2,200 on a bike wasn’t typical household spending in Singapore. Does all government need to be analyzed using cost benefit analysis? Can they incorporate assessment methods like using common sense and instincts to decide? Can an organization develop a culture and values system to do the right thing? Is there a widening gap in expectations between the general public and public sector leadership? We all need to agree on what the future Singapore should look like.

The real fear: Being pushed out of home. At the root of disquiet over foreigners is basic human anxiety of being displaced. The number of foreign workers are a concern. Immigration is a hot topic everywhere. The issue is the dilution of our culture and values. Are the foreigners integrating into our society? Mr Lee Kuan Yew had great foresight and could foresee this problem many years ago. Nobody wants to be displaced from their own back-yard. There has been a strain on infrastructure in recent years. However, infrastructure can be continually improved. People have different views on immigration. The common man is worried about their job security and foreigners stealing their jobs. Nowadays, there is also high skilled labour entering Singapore’s shores. The government needs to recognize concerns from Singaporeans and yet do what it takes to continue having a vibrant workforce and economy.

Singapore the real winner in Punggol East by-election. The by-election was conducted fairly. The Workers Party are also a party which is not out to upend the status quo. They certainly do not have plans to become the next government straight away. WP often agrees with the positions of the PAP. WP needs to work on their policies to rival PAP’s. The electorate is more educated and sensible now. It is important to field the best candidate.

Government needs to regain people’s trust. White Paper debate shows people must be persuaded plans are in their interest. Many Singaporeans were unhappy at the White Paper. Is there a lack of public confidence in the government? People need to know that policies are in their best interest. Trust has to be earned and re-earned. There is certainly a measured approach which needs to be adopted when it comes to population growth. The government needs to explain how the increase in foreigners will benefit Singaporeans. This is crucial. The public must feel that the government is acting in their interest and is doing what is best for the country.

Who’s out of touch – our leaders or people?  While some feel the Government has become elitist, others say citizens are unrealistic. The public seems to be getting unhappier at major issues. Has the government gone soft? The first theme blames the government. If the policy makers lost touch with the ground, things might be difficult. Or are the people to blame for having unrealistic expectations of the government? Are they are grateful enough Policy makers need to deal with municipal issues as well.

50 and celebrating the spirit of questioning. People who bought property in the past were able to benefit from them. Many people have taken advantage of the real estate boom. This was one of Singapore’s icons of success. However, are resale flats too expensive? Are we a too materialistic society? Are we better off living in houses with inflated values? There are grave concerns over the Singapore economy. Are Singaporean companies losing their competitiveness? Is our economy in need of structural change? The public also wants a stronger opposition. Our government is never stagnant and is trying their best to rejuvenate the economy. As we turn 50, it is the best time to ask such questions.

What dark secret is in the Singapore basement? There are things every society is not proud to be associated with, but which still exist. What is the cost of economic growth?  Is there exploitation of cheap labour? 3 groups have sacrificed themselves for the sake of economic growth. One is the low-wage workers. However, programmes like Workfare are helping this group. Politicians who were opponents of the ruling party have suffered in the past. Some movies have also been banned in Singapore. There are also many low-wage foreign workers doing the jobs that Singaporeans do not want to pick up. These are the some of the trade-offs in our society.

Fear for Singapore propelled vote swing. Voters feared that the ruling party might be voted out. It would be the unthinkable. The opposition’s campaigns seemed to gain a lot of traction online. There was a fear the ruling party would lose seats and weaken it. Voters didn’t want to see 1 more GRC move to the opposition. Many voters could have been influenced by SG50. The WP kept emphasizing on checks and balances to improve governance. The opponent will have to thread carefully after this bad result. The WP will have to re-strategize and fight again.

Lee Kuan Yew. LKY was a fast worker. Back then, everything was handwritten and he would mail his comments to me. He would always ask reporters and editors on how his speech could be improved. LKY has a tremendous persistence and determination. Many of his initial ideas for Singapore were revolutionary at that time. Indeed, he still continues to loom large.

His conviction and personality shaped Singapore. LKY can look back at Singapore as his achievement. The country has progressed much since independence. Does the younger generation lack the understanding of what made Singapore succeed? His conviction was outstanding and he was relentless about his pursuit of success. Values were very important to him. Thankfully, PAP is never on autopilot and a lot of fine-tuning of policies need to be carried out. He can take pride on our new generation and the effort younger Singaporeans are putting in.

The original big-idea leader. His enduring legacy was that he had powerful ideas for Singapore and the courage and commitment to turn them into reality. Mr Lee was not concerned with winning his critics. The good thing about him was that he was not afraid of implementing new policies. He chose to bring in MNCs, have compulsory NS for males, introduced English as the common language and multi-culturialism. He had a great deputy, Dr Goh Keng Swee. The big institutions were under government control. Mr Lee is an extreme pragmatist. He believed in minimal public welfare and home ownership. Can Singapore sustain its growth? It remains to be seen.

I’m very determined. If I decide that something is worth doing, then I’ll put my heart and soul to it. The whole ground can be against me but if I know it is right, I’ll do it. – Lee Kuan Yew

What’s next for Singapore after Lee Kuan Yew. Passing of larger-than-life leader will bring inevitable change, but key question is what this entails. What will life be like? The current leadership will certainly feel his absence. Lee Kuan Yew also commanded a lot of respect from international leaders and Singapore’s reputation might be affected. Mr Lee had many views on rising China in the past and he built a strong relationship with global leaders. No current leader should try to emulate him though.

He wasn’t afraid to show his true colours. Open display of grief shows Mr Lee’s qualities mattered more than his actions. Mr Lee never sought adulation. He was a very serious leader. He was a very frugal man and wasn’t interested in wealth. This made him more relatable to ordinary Singaporeans. Singapore was his lifelong project. He was never afraid of public examination and he wasn’t afraid to be harsh, when necessary.

Singapore’s future according to LKY. He still thought that Singapore would be safe for 10 years. But beyond that, it depends on the other members of the team. There will be a time when the public wants to try the other side. Nobody can settle the future of a country beyond more than 10 years of his life.

Economy. Hope it isn’t the kiss of death for me. Stagnating wages have been an issue for a while now. Does the average Singaporean worker deserve higher pay than his neighbouring counterpart? How do we make workers in Singapore more competitive? People need to do their job well and display initiative in whatever they do. I was impressed by service staff overseas. Singaporeans have not developed this sense of taking pride in their work. We do not possess the deep skills and knowledge required to make our products/services world-class.

Who do you think owns your company? It’s hard to improve productivity unless employees feel a sense of ownership. Labour productivity growth rates haven’t been growing. The government has been investing a lot into the National Productivity Fund. There is a lot of financial support for start-ups. Will companies be over-reliant on government help? We need home-grown innovators. Productivity is crucial. Management’s problems should also be worker’s problems. If you ask the Japanese who owns their company, they will say that their companies belong to them too.

Do workers here believe that the company they work for belongs to them? If the answer to the question is no, if workers’ hearts are not in their companies, the company doesn’t deserve to be given taxpayers’ money. – Han Fook Kwang

The $6 billion question: Will government funds help SMEs to do better? How do you grow the pie each year so that everyone can benefit? Transformation of the SME industry was the strategy. We want to send workers’ for training and rely less on foreign labour. Singapore is known for the excellent infrastructure and tax incentives. The going will continue to get tougher. However, we have to be accountable for the amount spent in the budget. We need to review whether programmes have the desired effect.

When wages fail to grow along with economy? Stagnating incomes need to be tackled in earnest. Income rose from the 1965s to the 1990s. The median monthly rate increased tremendously. Starting salaries for fresh graduates haven’t been increasing much. Why is there economic growth but no wage increase? This issue is also not uniquely Singapore. Do we need a new growth model? These are important questions which need to be answered. Inflation rates have been rising. Will stagnating incomes affect the quality of living? If the ruling party can’t deliver good jobs and incomes, they might lose votes. Ultimately, they still need to care about the economy.

Do Singaporean workers deserve their wages? Why do our workers deserve a premium when they are not so productive? We do not fare well in case interviews too. Are our workers comparable with engineering firms in Germany? Many say workers in Singapore lack drive. We should be hungrier and more hardworking. Our workers need better skills and ability. The Swiss has managed to reinvent themselves. Let’s hope stagnating wages are not here to stay.

Is Singapore too business friendly for local firms? There are basically no entry barriers. We face the brunt of global competition. It is too easy to set up a business here than many want to try. Toyota and Nissan thrived at the start because of protectionist measures. Once they were bigger, Japan opened up their economy to trade etc. It can notorious for foreign firms to succeed in China. Japanese companies usually favour sub-contractors they know for a long time. Can the system be more nuanced? Can a more protectionist approach yield the new global Singapore firm?

Understanding productivity: Why we haven’t got it still. BCA has been encouraging construction firms to use technology. Our economy is struggling to achieve 2 to 4% of productivity growth. It is not so easy to get workers to produce more. Is the worker even doing the right job? Should he be doing something else? What is Singapore really good at producing? Restructuring of the economy comes into the picture, not just about productivity gains. There is also excessive focus on technology. We need to understand the human relationships in organizations and how employers/ employees interact

If workers do not believe that bosses are fair, that the company belongs to them as much as it does to shareholders, and that they have a future in it, no amount of skill or technology will help them excel. – Han Fook Kwang

Sake, windmills and the art of craftsmanship. Both how Japanese brew and the Dutch harness wind for energy is intriguing. There is a common pursuit of excellence. Be the best you can be. The master craftsman often hands down the skills to the younger ones. They are constantly thinking of new ways to improve the brew. They treat their job with utmost respect and care. The Dutch needed to be good at harnessing energy from windmills as they needed to clear waterlogged lands. The country sits on low-lying land. It is a deep Dutch tradition.

What it takes to get the economy buzzing. Singapore relies on trade and connections with neighbours. We lack enough dynamic individuals to take us forward. We need to develop a culture of entrepreneurship. We need to do our jobs well. People in Japan, Netherlands are very resourceful.

Singapore In Transition

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


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)

I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and its guiding spirit ever since. – Henry Kissinger

He has sound judgment and intelligence. Without his vision, Singapore might not become so economically powerful. Per capita income rose from $400 a year to about $50,000 now. Singapore is now a major hub and a force to be reckoned with. He has shared his profound knowledge and experiences with many politicians across the World.

When Lee Kuan Talks, Who Listens? (Selected quotes), Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jacques Chirac, F. W. de Klerk, Xi Jinping, Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Schmidt, Rupert Murdoch, John Chambers, Sam Palmisano, Rex Tillerson, Robert Zoellick, James Wolfensohn, Muhtar Kent, David Rothkopf, Hillary Clinton, George Shultz, Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Joseph Nye, Nicholas Kristof, David Ignatius, Fareed Zakaria

In my long life in public service, I have encountered many bright, able people. None is more impressive than Lee Kuan Yew. – George W. Bush

Hallmarks of Singapore’s success: focus on education, work and saving, meritocracy, democracy, protectionism in the past but liberation and global engagement now etc. Lee was a smart, thoughtful, blunt and provocative man.

There are two equalizers in life: the Internet and education. Lee Kuan Yew is a world leader who understands this and is using the power of the Internet to position Singapore for survival and success in the Internet economy. – John Chambers

He has the most modern and most strategic view of anyone I have met for a long time. – Madeleine Albright

Today, Singapore is a rich and prosperous country. If the rest of the world could accomplish what Singapore has accomplished, the world would be a better and more prosperous place. He is a man who never stops thinking, never stops looking ahead with larger visions. His views are sought by respected senior statesmen on all continents. – Joseph Nye

Lee is the smartest leader I think I ever met. – Tony Blair

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. – Abraham Lincoln

Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore into a modern and prosperous nation. He is the ‘sage of Singapore’. Many world leaders have been inspired by him. This book focuses on the future of the world economy.

Of course. This reawakened sense of destiny is an overpowering force. It is China’s intention to be the greatest power in the world – and to be accepted as China, not as an honorary member of the West. – Lee Kuan Yew

The Future of China. Is China aiming to be number 1? How does China see the US? China is going to be the world’s biggest economy in the next 20 years and want to be number 1. They are the fastest developing nation. This reawakened sense of destiny is an overpowering force. Their policies are gearing them to be number 1. No one should offend them as they could easily impose economic sanctions. Will China want to impose their imperial status when they are number 1? They tell others to be more respectful of them. China believes in tapping on their skilled and educated workforce. They will practice diplomacy. Although not as strong in terms of military strength as the US, they are deter any aggression by trading heavily with them. They are moving towards the market system of economy. China has to avoid wars like Germany and Japan and not be obsessed with power. Also, they have to avoid being like Russia, which spent too much money on military. The younger generation needs to learn about the rich Chinese history and how they have overcome difficulties in the past. To Asia: ‘come grow with me’, ‘choose to be my friend’. They are more concerned using diplomacy rather than force. Governance problems, as well as culture; language might affect their success. Chinese language is very difficult to master. Their culture allows less expression of creativity and exchange of ideas. It is hard to change culture due to their illustrious history. Also, some of the structures that were recommended by Stalin are still in place. There is also the rich poor divide to worry about. It is hard to monitor so many people, once they move into the cities. They depend on other nations for resources as well. Currently, China wants to grow with the US and tap on their expertise. LKY expects double digit growth to happen in the near future. However, China won’t turn into a liberal democracy. They still believe in the power of communism. Now, they realize the need for the rule of law. Clear laws strengthens the economy. If it is peaceful, China won’t lose. Their chance of being number 1 is 80%. Xi Jinping had a tougher life than Hu Jintao. LKY thinks that he is impressive, just like Nelson Mandela.

Theirs is a culture 4000 years old with 1.3 billion people, many of great talent – a huge and very talented pool to draw from. How could they not aspire to be number 1 in Asia, and in time the world? – Lee Kuan Yew

The chief challenges are culture, language, an inability to attract and integrate talent from other countries, and, in time, governance. – Lee Kuan Yew

While I once advised a Chinese leader to make English the first language of China, clearly that is not realistic for such a great, confident country and culture. But it is a serious handicap. – Lee Kuan Yew

He is reserved – not in the sense that he will not talk to you, but in the sense that he will not betray his likes and dislikes. There is always a pleasant smile on his face, whether or not you have said something that annoyed him. He has iron in his soul, more than Hu Jintao, who ascended the ranks without experiencing the trials and tribulations that Xi endured. – Lee Kuan Yew

China is sucking the Southeast Asian countries into its economic system because of its vast market and growing purchasing power. Japan and South Korea will inevitably be sucked in as well. It just absorbs countries without having to use force. – Lee Kuan Yew

The Future of the United States. LKY believes USA has the ability to rebound well. It has an illustrious history and track record. For the next 20 to 30 years, they will remain the sole superpower. They are very powerful economically and in terms of their military. They have a say in almost every international issue. Also, they have a culture of embracing talented foreigners. USA has a rich entrepreneurial culture, where people are not afraid of failure. English language is also easier to learn. USA has great and noble ideals. The US government has the problem of each succeeding president refusing to take unpopular measures in the fear that they will lose votes. As a result, budget deficits often carry over to the next administration. The presidential system is also flawed, as compared to the parliamentary system. For the parliamentary system, the citizens will know you for a period of time at least. Whereas for the presidential system, anyone can run for it. Media can make a person seem very attractive/popular. LKY believes more in discipline, rather than democracy. The American system is very difficult to run. The problem with US is that social problems like guns, violent crime etc, disrupts society. You cannot let people do their own thing all the time. Individual supremacy cannot be carried to an extreme. Individual rights at the expense of the community. Multiculturalism will destroy the US, esp from immigrants as they will dilute their culture. A mediocre system of government with top people at the top is better than an excellent system of government with poor people at the top. USA needs to control their fiscal deficit properly. They cannot to have other countries withdrawing their assets from the USA.

If people have lost faith completely in their democratic institutions because they cannot find people of calibre to run them, however good that system, it perishes. Ultimately, it is the people who run the system who make it come to life. – Lee Kuan Yew

America’s strengths include no grooved thinking but rather an ability to range widely, imaginatively, and pragmatically; a diversity of centers of excellence that compete in inventing and embracing new ideas and new technologies. – Lee Kuan Yew

Americans have a can-do approach to life: everything can be broken up, analyzed and redefined. Whether it can or it cannot, Americans believe it can be solved, given enough money, research, and effort. – Lee Kuan Yew

The American culture…is that we start from scratch and beat you. – Lee Kuan Yew

They went into an empty continent and made the best of it – killed the Red Indians and took over the land and the buffaloes. So this is how they ended up – you build a town here, you be the sheriff, I am the judge, you are the policeman, and you are the banker, let us start. And this culture has carried on until today. There is the belief that you can make it happen. – Lee Kuan Yew

When you have popular democracy, to win votes you have to give more and more. And to beat your opponent in the next election, you have to promise to give more away. So it is a never-ending process of auctions – and the cost, the debt being paid for by the next generation. – Lee Kuan Yew

Your presidents, I mean, like Jimmy Carter…my name is Jimmy Carter, I am a peanut farmer, I am running for president. The next thing you know, he was the president. – Lee Kuan Yew

I do not believe that if you are libertarian, full of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the marketplace, full of sound and fury, therefore you will succeed. – Lee Kuan Yew

They say people can think for themselves? Do you honestly believe that the chap who cannot pass elementary school knows the consequences of his choice when he answers a question viscerally, on language, culture, and religion? But we knew the consequences. We would starve, we would have race riots. We would disintegrate. – Lee Kuan Yew

If you follow the ideological direction of Europe, you are done for. There will always be a tussle within societies, as underachievers want more support, but addressing their needs must be done in a way that does not kill incentive. – Lee Kuan Yew

The Future of US – China Relations. China is just acting on its own national interests and not interested in taking over the world. China can tap on US technology so having conflict is not ideal. Many feel that a US military presence should be maintained. The world will be very different if the US is experiencing conflict. The US must always support Japan. Many Asians still thank the US for their involvement in WWII that allowed them to prosper afterwards. Many countries are now on US’s side after how President Nixon befriended them. The US must try to build as many FTAs as possible. The US should not try to change China into a democratic society. Neither should the US try to threaten China. China has been through a lot, like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. They now want lasting peace. It is important that the younger generation are not hostile but instead, accepting and understanding.

American society was so successful for so long not because of these ideas and principles, but because of a certain geopolitical good fortune, an abundance of resources and immigrant energy, a generous flow of capital and technology from Europe, and two wide oceans that kept conflicts of the world away from American shores. – Lee Kuan Yew

The US cannot stop China’s rise. It just has to live with a bigger China, which will be completely novel for the US as no country has ever been big enough to challenge its position. China will be able to do so in 20 to 30 years. – Lee Kuan Yew

So if I were an American, I would speak well of China, acknowledge it as a great power, applaud its return to its position of respect and restoration of its glorious past, and propose specific concrete ways to work together. – Lee Kuan Yew

…To engage or to isolate China. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say you will engage China on some issues and isolate her over others. You cannot mix your signals. – Lee Kuan Yew

Make them feel that they are stakeholder, and if this earth goes warm, they will be in as much trouble as anyone else. – Bob Zoellick

The Future of India. There is too much bureaucracy that makes it hard to grow economically. There is also excessive corruption that destroys state planning. There are many layers of review before laws can be passed and the constitution changed. In addition, infrastructure is poor and it is running large deficits. Their government has not been able to follow Infosys’ model. The British took over them. There are too many dialects in India. The Brahmins are smart. However, if you marry a non-Brahmin, you go down in caste. Many of their businessman are also corrupt, who just want to make money at the expense of the society. India’s capital markets are stronger than China’s. So are their legal and banking systems. Their average age is also younger than China. To succeed, they have to build better infrastructure and move to the urban areas. India was going the slow path after LKY failed to convince Indira Gandhi to change things. They need to focus more on their manufacturing sector. Major nations all need to start off from an industrial state. They need to cut down on corruption levels and bring in FDIs. Also, the level of education is not sufficient as many drop out of primary school. The unions do not want to be privatized as if the workforce is more efficient, many would lose their jobs. They were too self-reliant on their past. India is much bigger than the whole ASEAN put together. China’s GDP is 3.5 times more than India. India is getting involved economically but building international ties. LKY wanted India to play a guardian in the political stability and economic development in South East Asia.

The caste system has been the enemy of meritocracy…India is a nation of unfulfilled greatness. – Lee Kuan Yew

Indians will go at a tempo which is decided by their constitution, by their ethnic mix, by their voting patterns, and the resulting coalition governments, which makes for very difficult decision-making. – Lee Kuan Yew

India is not a real country. Instead, it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line. – Lee Kuan Yew

Nehru and Gandhi had a chance to do for India what I did for Singapore because of their enormous prestige, but they could not break the caste system. – Lee Kuan Yew

Political systems that yield inferior economic performance will ultimately be discarded for those that are more protective. – Lee Kuan Yew

I have a selfish motive in wanting India to emerge as early as possible as a major possible economic power in world politics. If India does not emerge, Asia will be submerged. – Lee Kuan Yew

The Future of Islamic Extremism. The divide is between Muslim terrorist and the US, Israel, and their supporters. This is the fight for Islam. It is hard to clamp down on terrorists. In addition, they possess weapons of mass destruction. Radical Islam is the problem. They feel that the West has hindered their growth. Americans are usually their target. Arabs have been taught to hate Jews and Israelis. US has a role to play in eradicating this. Muslims in SEA have changed because of the fact that many participated in the Jihad in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia was also rich from oil and spread their teachings. Those radicals are also known as jihadists. In the past, SEA muslims were calm. However, in the past 30 years, some have learnt about Wahhabism. The plan is to drive the US out of Iraq. Jihadists are willing to sacrifice themselves. The US cannot afford to leave Iraq as it will give the Taliban regime strength. With NATO support, the moderate Muslims can fight off Islamic extremism. Moderate Muslims must have the courage to speak out against these radicals. There is a battle between extremist Muslims and the rationalist Muslims. Force alone is not sufficient. You need to tackle the queen bees (preachers too).

But the Muslims believe that if they master the Qu’ran and they are prepared to do all that Muhammad has prescribed, they will succeed. So, we can expect trouble from them and so, it happened. – Lee Kuan Yew

I do not see the Islamic extremists winning, and by that I mean able to impose their extremist system. I can see them inducing fear and insecurity, and causing fear, but they do not have the technology and the organization to overwhelm any government. – Lee Kuan Yew

With the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Islamic extremist movement has been franchised out, and each group works on its own. It is accordingly more diverse and difficult to pin down. – Lee Kuan Yew

The objective must be to reassure and persuade moderate Muslims…that they are not going to lose, that they have the weight, the resources of the world behind them. They must have the courage to go into the mosques and madrassa and switch off the radicals. – Lee Kuan Yew

You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem. In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young. – Lee Kuan Yew

For Part 2, click here.