Obama welcomes ‘legendary’ Lee Kuan Yew


Lee meets Obama. AFP:

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday lauded Singapore’s “legendary” founding father Lee Kuan Yew, as he sought advice ahead of his first trip to Asia since taking office.

Obama told reporters before a meeting with Lee that he was looking forward to hearing his views on the evolving situation in the region, before leaving on November 11 for a trip to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.

“This is one of the legendary figures of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries,” Obama said as he sat side-by-side with Lee in the Oval Office.

“He is somebody who helped to trigger the Asian economic miracle,” Obama said, adding that Singapore had been an outstanding friend and ally of the United States for many years.

Lee, 86, said that he was privileged to visit Obama at a “time of renewal and change in America, and during a period of transition where the world order is changing.”

2 Responses to “Obama welcomes ‘legendary’ Lee Kuan Yew”

  1. Dear Mr President,

    I refer to your recent compliment to our Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. You said Mr Lee ‘helped to trigger the Asian economic miracle.’ But just how momentous or important has his ‘trigger’ been?

    The Asian economic miracle began with the miracles of the four East Asian dragons of Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. Since all started industrialisation around the same time, how do we know if it was Singapore that helped ‘trigger the Asian miracle’ and not Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea instead?

    History has shown that the success behind the Asian miracle rested with export oriented industrialisation. Countries that embarked on import substitution industrialisation failed to prosper. Yet, when Mr Lee first took over the reins of government in 1959, it was precisely the route of import substitution that he took. It was only in 1965 when Singapore was separated from its Malaysian hinterland that import substitution became untenable, forcing Singapore to embark on the route of export oriented industrialisation. So if there had been a ‘trigger’ for the Asian miracle, it must have been lady luck.

    Moreover, Singapore’s plans for industrialisation came largely from one man – the Dutch economist Dr Albert Winsemius who was also instrumental in bringing the first multinationals like Shell and Philips onto the shores of Singapore. So if we have to name one person who ‘helped trigger the Asian miracle’, it would have been Dr Winsemius rather than Mr Lee.

    Finally, this ‘trigger’ is not an Asian secret but an open recipe to all countries around the world. So why didn’t the ‘trigger’ lead to a worldwide ‘miracle’? Even in Asia, the ‘miracle’ didn’t spread evenly across the continent. Countries like the Philippines and Indonesia continue to languish behind in progress. So clearly, it takes much more than just ‘triggers’ for ‘miracles’ to happen. Therefore it makes little sense to speak of ‘triggers for miracles’ as though it happens at the snap of our fingers.

  2. 2 PG

    Another Lee family and PAP myth . Its all myth about Singapore and Lee KWan Yew . As was said , other people actually did all the work , Lee took over an existing country which was already well developed and advanced by the British.
    Without the ‘miracle of England’ and Europe going inmto the industrial and then consumption era , there would have been no busines for Singapore and Singapore would not have survived . And we can see today that with world trade on the downturn , how weak and frail Singapore’s economy really is .
    And along another line , as asian populations become aware of ecology and the necessity of time to do other things than work , I think a lot of people will not want to live in the Singapore style city . And maybe the climate will seal Singapore’s fate anway and submerge it along with other coastal cities of the world.
    The only thing we can say , is that Lee Kwan Yew and the PAP are arrogant ( as is the whole Lee family ) and for me and a lot of people have yet to prove they are real leaders and good politicians and moreover managers of a country .

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