Saturday, September 01, 2007

More Lee Kwan Yew

This earlier Der Spiegel interview is one of the most popular posts on this blog. Here's an excerpt from a more recent one in the Times.

One of his concerns now, Mr. Lee said, is that the United States has become so preoccupied with the Middle East that it is failing to look ahead and plan in this part of the world.

“I think it’s a real drag slowing down adjusting to the new situation,” he said, describing what he called a lapse that worries Southeast Asian countries that count on Washington to balance the rising economic and diplomatic power of China.

“Without this draining of energy, attention and resources for Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, there would have been deep thinking about the long-term trends — working out possible options that the U.S. could exercise to change the direction of long-term trends more in its favor,” Mr. Lee said.

As the United States focuses on the Middle East, Mr. Lee said, the Chinese are busy refining their policies and building the foundations of more cooperative long-term relationships in Asia. “They are making strategic decisions on their relations with the region,” he said.

And this is where tiny Singapore sees itself as a model for China, the world’s most-populous country. “They’ve got to be like us,” Mr. Lee said, “with a very keen sense of what is possible, and what is not.”

Every year, he said, Chinese ministers meet twice with Singaporean ministers to learn from their experience. Fifty mayors of Chinese cities visit every three months for courses in city management.

Singapore’s secret, Mr. Lee said, is that it is “ideology free.” It possesses an unsentimental pragmatism that infuses the workings of the country as if it were in itself an ideology, he said. When considering an approach to an issue, he says, the question is: “Does it work? Let’s try it, and if it does work, fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.”

The yardstick, he said, is: “Is this necessary for survival and progress? If it is, let’s do it.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comment thread of the Lee Kwan Yew interview you mention here has been spammed. Look at the end.

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