Tom Plate’s Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew: Some Wise Words for Dysfunctional Western Democracies


Tom Plate’s book gets negative reviews in Singapore, but a positive review in America.  Huffington Post:

When the history of the 21st century is written, Afghanistan will matter little. But the rise of China modeled on the pragmatic, soft-authoritarian template of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore will be seen as the game changer of our time. Plate has had the uncommon vision, for a Western journalist, to see this. And his book could not be more relevant at a moment when recession, debt and dysfunction are plaguing the West while Asia strides boldly into the future.

At a time when it appears that democracies are becoming ungovernable, a discourse on the ways and means of good governance by the neo-Confucian master thinker of modern Asia could not be more useful. …

Though putting it into terms of the Western mind, Plate gets it right in the end: Lee Kuan Yew is a mix of Plato and Machiavelli. Lee, he points out, not only believes in the reasoned rule of a learned elite. Over the years, he has employed the practical political genius of a city-state Prince to make it a reality.

Here is how Plate sums up Lee’s worldview: “Sustained and sustainable progress is possible only when a gifted, empowered elite is in more or less in complete control of policy. The complete corollary to that is his belief that politics that includes significant decision-making by the unqualified — or by well-organized narrow interests, the lobbies — is the enemy of superior public policy. This leads to the third forbidden thought: that democracy, at its one-man, one-vote purest, is almost always the enemy of a practical, here-and-now, best-we-can-get utopia.”

3 Responses to “Tom Plate’s Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew: Some Wise Words for Dysfunctional Western Democracies”

  1. 1 LY Lim

    Dear “The New Rebel”,

    Although I don’t think MM Lee is equivalent to Mr. Nelson Mandela, neither is he equivalent to Mr. Saddam Hussein. One can appreciate your effort to qualify your opinion on MM Lee, however one can’t help but to find your “reasons” convenient.

    As for the extract from his new book: “What political party helps an opposition to come to power?” I sincerely do not see how one can be riled. I was taught since young that we have to take words into proper context, so as not to misinterpret the message. Take the board game chess for example, it is “played” involving strategies; deception; threats. It use terms like annihilation, uproot, isolation and many more. The game can reduce a matured intelligent person to tears and loss of self-confident and self-esteem. Should we condemn the inventor of chess?

    I wonder if you ever need to grow your own tapioca for family meals. Or make and sell tapioca base glue called Stikfas for a living?

  2. 2 Mbps data speeds of 2100MHz. OK, let’s start with handset style, all of the devices come with different casings, the Black – Berry Bold 9780 and the Curve 8520 have classic Blackberry bar form casings complete with full QWERTY keyboards, whereas the Black – Berry Torch 9800 has a slider form casing with slide out QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen. Would you agree.

  3. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m
    definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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