Lee Kuan Yew, telling it like it is

(TMI) – Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister and the father of the island republic’s current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, launched his latest book “One Man’s View Of The World” yesterday.

The 400-page book features conversations in Singapore last year between him and his long-time admirer, Helmut Schmidt, the former chancellor of West Germany. They discussed world affairs.

Lee’s comments on Malaysia were particularly scathing, not surprising given his rocky relationship with leaders on this side of the causeway. Singapore was ejected from the Malaysian federation in 1965 by Tunku Abdul  Rahman, the first prime minister of Malaysia.

Did Lee Kuan Yew want to rule Malaysia?

Q: Some people have also put forward the view that you and the PAP went into Malaysia harbouríng ambitions of ruling the entire country.

A: That is simply not possible. The demographics would not allow that. What they wanted was for non-Malays to play a secondary role. They had the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress as partners, holding the loyalty of grassroots leaders in Malaya.

Sabah and Sarawak they could manipulate because the leaders were young, and new. In the midst of the struggle, the Tunku offered to make me the United Nations representative to get me out of the way.


On getting ejected from Malaysia in 1965.

Q: In retrospect, “would you say that you pushed” too hard on Malaysian Malaysia?

A: No. If I had not pushed then, we would be prisoners now.


Is moderate Islam losing its grip on Malaysia?

Q: There is something happening concurrently with the change in ethnic mix, which is that Malaysia is also becoming more rigorously Islamic in its practice.

A: That is part of the influence of the Middle East.

Q: Can it be a progressive Muslim country?

A: You believe that? What do you mean by a progressive Muslim country?