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Teach school students to not expect anything for free. – The wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew, the greatest governance expert of all time

We want our schools to produce citizens who are healthy and hardy, with a sense of social purpose and group discipline, prepared to work and to pay for what they want, never expecting something for nothing.  – Lee Kuan Yew

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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11 thoughts on “Teach school students to not expect anything for free. – The wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew, the greatest governance expert of all time
  1. Raj

    Guess that’s enough of worship Sanj. The guy is an autocrat, in the end of the day. No free press, no free speech, and of course — “group discipline”.

    As I said, PLEASE, take the good, ignore the garbage. I hope you can discern the two.

    These quotes are phenomenal though.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I don’t understand everything about Singapore or LKY. No time to do that. All I note is that he was fully determined from day 1 to follow rock solid principles of good governance.

    There are definitely some issues re: Singapore’s system, but I’d say it is largely a case of classic text book good governance. Let’s not forget to learn from this solid example of governance.

  3. Joyson Fernandes

    As hard as I’ve tried to look, I’ve failed to find a single classical liberal leader I would hold as an ideal. Name anyone! Jefferson? He was a slave owner. Reagan and Thatcher? They were no friends of freedom either. They were social conservatives and militarists. All have their flaws!

    But Lee Kuan Yew surely ranks among the best political leader and most successful nation-builder ever. He understood governance and the role of incentives better than anyone else. He had an intuitive grasp of economics and in this case, was always correct in his judgement. He was a shrewd but honest leader, and single-minded in his aim of transforming Singapore from a poverty-stricken and filthy city of mud-huts into one of the world’s most prosperous and affluent cities. He succeeded beautifully!

    Singapore owes its success entirely to him and his successors. Singapore’s flourishing wasn’t something that happened in a vacuum. He was the cause of it.

    I’m not advocating his idea of a “Confucian nanny state” or excusing his curbs on certain civil liberties, but Lee Kuan Yew is a man to be admired for exactly the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Joyson, there is no one to be admired unequivocally. Everyone is merely a human, subject to the defects of his times.

    Let’s not judge others by our standards, nor judge ourselves higher than what we are.

    Yes, LKY was really good, given the constraints he was facing.

  5. Joyson Fernandes

    If you can detest someone for his overwhelmingly bad deeds, then you can admire someone else for his overwhelmingly good ones as well.

    Everyone has his good side. Hitler was kind towards animals and abhorred animal cruelty. He was a devoted son to his cancer stricken mother who nursed her during the last days. He was loyal to his mistress Eva Braun, and a faithful friend. I’m sure there were more good points. But he is not remembered for all that. He is rightfully condemned, because his bad enormously outweighed his good and so he left behind a horrible legacy.

    In the case of Lee Kuan Yew, his good tremendously outweighed his bad and his legacy was overall a positive one. He is to be respected for it. His only failing was that he was a paternalist and curbed certain civil liberties. on account of his flawed adherence to nonsensical “Asian values” (Neo-confucianism).

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    The core drafts were by Raj Chatterjee. I’ll shortly mention that in a separate blog post.

  7. Raj

    Only just wish a person or two might just ACTUALLY take the stand to make the effort to hit the streets, share the flyer and spread the word. That was the point of it all, I can only wish it happens.


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