The day MM Lee censored himself

06Sep08

Rather odd article in Today about Lee Kuan Yew’s first televised National Day Rally speech in 1971.

Dr Goh must have been horrified when he heard from his seat at the National Theatre that the PM’s speech was going on air live. For Mr Lee was and is not known as one who minces his words.

Mr Lee now reveals that he exercised self-censorship, excising from his notes — there was no prepared text — things that he needed to tell Singaporeans yet would be ultra-sensitive should our neighbours get to hear of them.

It was a momentous decision! Singapore’s first Prime Minister censored himself, or edited himself, and launched one of the high points of the Singaporean political year: The annual National Day Rally live telecast. [...]

Mr Lee ended his speech by saying “we will see this place safe and secure … make use of the time, be it five years, be it six, be it 10″.

Does that strike you as a less-than-confident Lee Kuan Yew 37 years ago? Well, that was 1971 and those were uncertain times. Minister Mentor Lee is now much more confident about Singapore’s future.

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