Farewell to Lee Kuan Yew
The late former Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew is credited with founding and turning a colonial trade outpost into one of the most financially and politically stable states of the world. During his 31 years as premier and in his retirement days, Lee was influential in reforming and driving the prosperity of the city-state. The Singapore he left is the envy of the world. It is at the top in economic freedom and global competitiveness. It is the cleanest and least corrupt country in the world along with New Zealand and Scandinavian countries. By per capita gross domestic product, it is the eighth richest in the world and has the largest financial industry after New York, London, and Tokyo. The unemployment rate is just 2 percent. This is the priceless legacy of great leadership.
Nearly half of the jobs in Singapore are at foreign enterprises. Corporate taxes reach just 17 percent. Stable infrastructure, quality education and human resources, and clean government and society make Singapore one of the best places to live. The government works hard to come up with new ideas to nurture economic growth and help businesses prosper. The system was designed and carried out by Lee. Some still criticize the lack of political and press freedom in the country. But no one can deny that Lee’s conviction to achieve national prosperity, strong drive, visionary insight, and innovative mind have built Singapore, a tiny land with no natural resources and a polyglot population of Chinese, Malays, and Indians, into an unquestionable economic powerhouse.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be among the leaders to pay respects to Lee. She decided to attend the funeral out of respect for the deceased’s international reputation, the bilateral relationship between the two countries, and because he was a personal acquaintance. Funeral diplomacy, where leaders of many countries are brought together, requires subtle and sophisticated diplomatic preparation. Attending the funeral of a leader is a political expression of shared values with the deceased. We hope the president will accentuate Korea’s presence in the world and bring home ideas from Singapore-style governance.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 25, Page 30