Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore and former Minister Mentor, is in the hospital with severe Pneumonia.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mr Lee was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital on February 5 for severe pneumonia. “His condition has stabilised and he remains on mechanical ventilation in the ICU. He is conscious and lightly sedated,” the PMO said.
The news has devastated many Singaporeans, especially those who have taken notice of the recent visible deterioration of his health. Mr Lee is now 91.
In his most recent book, One Man’s View of the World, Lee Kuan Yew acknowledged that he is “less energetic and less active”. He also revealed that he has had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done, so that if he is to be fed by a tube or is unlikely to recover from any illness, that the doctors will help him “make a quick exit”.
We at the Vulcan Post team wish him a quick recovery.
Lee Kuan Yew is a symbol to Singaporeans from any generation. He has always been known as a stern leader, and a man with wise, witty, and memorable words, though he has significantly mellowed since his prime. He is also the world’s longest serving Prime Minister, serving from 1959 to 1990.
Here are some of LKY’s words that will live on through the generations.
Separation from Malaysia
“I have believed in Malaysian merger and the unity of these two territories. You know they are people connected by geography, economics, and ties of kinship — would you mind that we stop for a while…”
Lee Kuan Yew in an American interview in 1968
“At the end of the day, decisions have got to be made by adults, not teenagers, but it has got to be made in such a way that when the teenagers become adults, and they look back on these decisions, they will be proud of the generation that went before them.”
1984 National Day Rally
“I think nobody would have blamed us if we acted like ordinary mortals and decided to take up some other career, because we had nothing… All we had was the will not to yield, and that if we had to go down, there would be a terrible price to be paid.”
On how to say no:
“You lose nothing by being polite. The answer is ‘No’, but please say it politely and give the reasons… Explain to me why ‘No’. Don’t change ‘No’ to ‘Yes’. Don’t be a fool. If there was a good reason why it is ‘No’, it must remain ‘No’, but the man must be told politely.”
— To Civil Servants at the Victoria Theatre, 30 Sep 1965
“I don’t believe in love at first sight. I think it’s a grave mistake. You’re attracted by physical characteristics and you will regret it.”
— From Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going
Rally speech at Raffles Place, 1980
“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.”
On banning chewing gum
“If you can’t think because you can’t chew, try a banana.”
— From a BBC article about Singapore’s ban on chewing gum, 2000
On the typical Singaporean
“You know the Singaporean. He is a hard-working, industrious, rugged individual. Or we would not have made the grade. But let us also recognise that he is a champion grumbler.” (1977)
“As long as you keep that, at the back of your mind, this place is what it is because of our effort. You cease to make that effort, you cease to be like this.”
On governing Singapore
“You’ve got to do one of two things when you’ve got to keep people happy: either, give them something that will satisfy them, better food, better clothes, better homes; or if you can’t do that, then give them the vision of greatness to come”.
— At a luncheon held by the Australian Institute of Management at the Australia Hotel, Sydney, Australia, 22 March, 1965
“I am nobody’s stooge. I am not here to play somebody else’s game. I have a few million people’s lives to account for.”
— At a Press Conference at City Hall, 26th August 1965
On Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister
“Yeah, but at the same time, I must be very careful that he is not going to smudge the record.. Well, he has got a tough time, but he has got more resources than I had when I started.”
— During Tom Plate’s Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew
On standing up for yourself
“I have been accused of many things in my life, but not even my worst enemy has ever accused me of being afraid to speak my mind.” (1955)
“I always tried to be correct, not politically correct.” (2000)
“I wouldn’t call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God.”
“There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach.”
— From One Man’s View of the World
“Rest on laurels? I wish I could do that. No, you rest when you’re dead.”
— From The Wit & Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew
“I wish I can meet my wife in the hereafter, but I don’t think I will. I just cease to exist just as she has ceased to exist – otherwise the other world would be overpopulated.”
— From One Man’s View of the World.
And his most famous quote
“Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.”
— From the 1988 National Day Rally