Having worked in Singapore in the early 2000’s, I came to learn more about Lee Kuan Yew‘s vision and principles. The man who, arguably, single-handedly transformed Singapore from a marshy backwater region of the Malay Peninsula into one of the world’s powerhouse. The man had charisma and vision, and what is currently lacking in so many leaders around the world: courage. There is much to learn from Lee Kuan Yew for all of the contemporary leaders – we are all looking for leaders who can instil in us a sense of confidence that they know what they are doing, and that they also know the direction that we should all be taking. In recent times, Presidents and Prime Ministers either appear to be gutless, visionless populists and people-pleasers or corrupt despots who milk their country dry.
From my stint in Singapore, I heard that many of the older generations carried a sense of anger from the time that they were forced out of their kampongs and huts into the Housing Development Board apartments. In a small country like Singapore, where land usage needs to be managed wisely and scrupulously, such strong mandate makes sense. It was Lee Kuan Yew who instigated this and look at Singapore now. Many of his actions and opinions caused strong oppositions and heartaches – but these sacrifices birth out a great nation. Compared to the neighbouring countries, where one may argue that more complex issues exist, Singapore comes out as an example of great courageous vision that ultimately bears great fruits.
I like leaders who – whether you agree or disagree with their actions – stick to their vision and the big picture with wisdom. We often disagree with them, only because we are not privy to the whole story.
There is also another reason why I should dedicate a blog post to Lee Kuan Yew’s passing today – both he and I share the same birthdate. It’s a fact that a good friend of mine, Robert Koehne, often points out whenever he wishes me a happy birthday. We share the same obsession with goals and I hope, a similar tenacity. I hope that when my time comes, I can also leave great legacies like him.
Rest in peace, Sir.