Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore has never been shy in defending Singapore’s political system or his own legacy. During the recent Economic Society of Singapore’s annual dinner, Lee gave a stern rebuke to some human rights organizations that frequently picked on Singapore for not being a liberal democracy.
Mr. Lee charged such criticisms as “a conspiracy to do [Singapore] in” because Singapore was viewed a threat by those critics.
Explaining why these groups regarded Singapore as a threat, he said it was because they saw that the Russians and Chinese have been coming and studying Singapore’s success story and picking up pointers.
So Mr. Lee’s point is that Singapore’s original sin is its audacity of being successful without conforming to the western style political system held so dearly by some who believe there is one and only one correct way for a nation to develop. As such, the Singaporean experience upsets the order of the universe for some and threatens their lecturing of others, including China and Russia, on what to do.
He then asked some hard charged questions meant for those critics.
My question is to them, have you ever run Singapore? Do you know how we got here? What were we? What we are now? And how we can become better?
We are not stupid people. They give us all these advice… Who are they? Have they ever run a country, created jobs for community and given them a life? We have and we know what it requires.
Clearly, Mr. Lee was irritated. But why?
Mr Lee was responding to a question on whether Singapore needed a Western-style liberal democracy to succeed.
There you have it. I, for one, cannot blame Mr. Lee for dressing down whoever that asked such a stupid question. Frankly, he earned the right to do so a long time ago.