For a country that is affectionately known as the ‘little red dot’ it has produced one rather larger than life 20th Century statesman, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Highly respected and revered by some, yet acutely mistrusted and disliked by others, whilst views may be polarised, there’s no doubting the influential part that he has played on both the economic and political stage well beyond his country’s borders over the past 50 years or so.
Much has been written about him and much has been written by him, with Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going (2011) representing a combination of both through its reproduction of a series of interviews by seven Straits Times journalists that were conducted over 10 months from December 2008.
As the title suggests, the protagonist does not mince his words on topics ranging from political opponents, democracy, and economics too race and religion, feng shui and family. The tenor of the book has been described in various reviews as ‘full-flow’, ‘tell it as it is’, ‘combative’, ‘blunt’ and ‘controversial’, However, ‘guided by a set of considered and consistent principles’ there is no doubting his sincerity and integrity (though some have been known to grumble at his often unwavering and unyielding manner toward alternative viewpoints or conflicting opinions).
Mr Lee served in Singapore’s Cabinet as Prime Minister, Senior Minister and Minister Mentor for 52 years before retiring in May 2011. As PM, he helped steer Singapore, along with Malaya, through independence from the British in 1963, which was followed two years later by the traumatic separation from the Federated States of Malaya (Malaysia), ultimately transforming the Republic into a fully developed country.
Aside from the politician and statesmen there is a touching glimpse of the family man through his account of his relationships with his children and grandchildren but, most poignantly, his wife. His account of how he would read to her every night after she had become bedridden and lost her ability to speak after several strokes is particularly moving. His wife passed away in 2010.
The bay [pictured] comprises approximately 600 copies held at the River Valley High School library in Singapore’s west that were acquired to support the students General Paper examination preparation.