An overdue tribute to LKY


That's Lee Kuan Yew for those not familiar with Singapore or its epic journey from a third world colonial outpost to a bustling first world metropolis that boasts a robust yet stable economy, a multicultural society that works in complete harmony, gleaming skyscrapers, enviable infrastructure, clean roads, a world class airline and airport, one of the busiest ports among others. 

It didn't come easy (In his book 'From Third World to First', you get to know the challenges faced by the fledgling nation). But there's one interview by an L.A.Times journalist which, to me, sums up the vision of LKY (it appeared in the Straits Times maybe early 2000s, not sure). I still remember one section, which I paraphrase from memory:
Journalist: "So when you took over Singapore it must have been difficult."
LKY: "Yes, there were gangs every where, gang wars occurred frequently."
Journalist; "What did you do?"
LKY:"Well, we rounded them up and put them prison."
Journalist: "That must have been a long trial."
LKY (looks at the journalist): "There was no trial."
Journalist (after a pause): "Isn' that undemocratic?"
LKY: "Well, I knew you'd say that. I had a nation to build, I didn't have time to waste. Now you step out on the streets of Singapore, you can be sure they are safe." 

That was about the gist of the part I remember. But I admire the vision, the focus, he had for the country. He was involved in every aspect of the governing process, from its defence to housing to water treaties with the neighbours to how the road from the airport to city centre should look and everything in between. In Singapore, you'll notice gaps between flyovers. Why, you ask? Well, LKY observed that the plants in between the flyovers need sunshine hence it was essential to have gaps. Even on his last day, he is reported to have told his assistants to clear some debris floating on the Singapore River. 

While he had an excellent team to support him, he always led from the front. fielded uncomfortable questions from the reporters, faced the media boldly, made tough decisions, and made sure the red dot thrived. 

All of which proves you don't need reams of text to write a success story. Just three letters will do.