November 30, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Tribute: Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

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by Zafar Anjum

On the 29th of March, the day Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was to be cremated after lying in state for a few days at Singapore’s Parliament House, I was on a flight crossing the Pacific. The flight attendant had given me a fat issue of The Straits Times (ST), Singapore’s newspaper of record, that presented memories of many Singaporeans whose lives had changed—immensely for the better—due to what Lee Kuan Yew had done for them. One of the writers of those memories was Patrick Daniel, the editor-in-chief of ST.

In his tribute, Patrick said that he had been a beneficiary of the Singapore system of meritocracy and multiculturalism. In one generation, Singapore had covered the long distance from poor mudflats to a first world nation status—a transition that many countries take centuries to achieve, and a mere pipe dream for a majority of nations. Patrick had, for example, moved from a humble wooden house to owning a piece of landed property in a coveted area in Singapore, worth several million dollars, in his own lifetime. He had risen through the ranks and had become a top editor in a short span of time in the world of Singaporean journalism.

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