A very versatile Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew is commonly referred as “father of Singapore”. He was the first prime minister of Singapore. Born on 16th September 1923, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) is a fourth generation Singaporean. He belonged to a middle class family. He was a bright, an active and an intelligent student in his academic life. He went to London School of Economics and University of Cambridge for higher studies. He got married on 30th September 1950 and parented 2 boys and one daughter.
Lee Kuan Yew had been engaged In various political activities since his academic life. Formally he started his political career at national level in 1951. On 21st November 1954, he formed the ‘socialist’ Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) in an alliance with pro-communist trade unions. This alliance was described by Lee as a marriage of convenience, since his English-speaking group needed the Chinese-speaking pro-communists’ mass support base, while the communists needed a non-communist party leadership (PAP) as a ‘smoke-screen’, because the Malayan Communist Party was illegal.
Lee began a campaign to merge Singapore with Malaysia to end British colonial rule in 1962. Due to his efforts and hard work, Singapore became part of Malaysia on 16th September 1963. Malaysian government and dominant political parties declared PAP as a challenge and stood against Chinese speaking Singaporeans. A famous cry “Malaysian Malaysia!” started and resulted in tough tussle between Singaporeans and Malays. They attacked each other and environment of distress was created. To solve this issue, Lee signed a separation agreement on 7th August 1965 and Republic of Singapore was created on 9th September 1965. The failure of the merger was a big loss to Lee that badly affected his health. Lee found it difficult to handle an infant state with scarcity of resources.
In order to get international recognition, Singapore was joined United Nation on 21st September 1965. He then founded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 8th August 1967. In coming two decades, Lee tried to create a unique Singaporean identity under the umbrella of “Multiculturalism” to recognize the racial consciousness, as there ware no single dominant culture prevailing in Singapore.
Lee’s policies have been very successful and in favor of Singapore. He declared policy of “neutrality” & non-alignment following Switzerland’s model. He then formed military forces for Singapore. Lee focused on Singapore economy by keeping the state Green & Efficient and portraying its image of being a “Green City”.
LKY restructured the wage system and said that public servants (ministers) should be apid well in comparison to private sector, so as to retain talent to serve public sector. To control population of state, he started a forceful “Stop at Two Family Planning”. He also initiated the “Great Marriage Debate” where Singaporean men were encouraged to choose highly educated women to be their wives. This would result in bringing in talented women who will contribute to the economy. Lee also ensured a strong law and order system in the state. Lee have been awarded an international prize by “Water Prize” in recognition to outstanding contribution towards solving global water crisis.
After leading PAP in seven elections, Lee stepped down on 28th November 1990, handing in his authorities Goh Chok Tong. Lee is the longest serving prime minister, serving his nation for almost three decades. His policies are are vital, dynamic and adaptable to many developing nations.