MM Lee's interview with Charlie Rose.

“We now have Ukrainians serving in the army” – Lee Kuan Yew

Straits Times censor Lee Kuan Yew?:
Why did the Straits Times censor MM Lee’s remarks about Obama being a “very great” man? See TOC’s Facebook page here.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave an interview with Charlie Rose on the “Charlie Rose Show” (Bloomberg TV) on 23 October. The following are excerpts from the interview.

On Singapore:

CHARLIE ROSE: You’ve never had a moment where you thought Singapore was too authoritative did you? Not one moment?

LEE KUAN YEW: My job was to get the place going and get everybody a decent life and a decent education. And we’re now the best educated people in the whole of east Asia. Our universities — we got three, four universities, fourth one coming up.

CHARLIE ROSE: So the end justifies the means whatever it might be?

LEE KUAN YEW: No. The ends were laudable. Everybody wants the same ends. Everybody wants good education and good health.

CHARLIE ROSE: A good life and their children to do better than they did.

LEE KUAN YEW: The means — I had the consent and support of the population. If they opposed me and they did not cooperate, it wouldn’t have worked.

CHARLIE ROSE: You were in control of everything.


CHARLIE ROSE: Yes you were, you know that.


LEE KUAN YEW: The numbers of people opposing me, including the communists in the very early years, was endless.

Diversity in Singapore:

LEE KUAN YEW: “We are a small population so we can make it up with numbers from young bright Indians and young bright Chinese, young bright Malaysians, and all the people around the world, and some middle easterners.  We now have Ukrainians serving in the army.”

On maintaining Singapore’s relevancy to the world:

LEE KUAN YEW: “You cannot maintain your relevance by just staying put.  The world changes.  There are shifts in the geopolitics and the economics of the world.  We have to watch it and ride it.  You surf with them.  As the surf comes this way you ride the surf.  We are keeping our links with America, with Japan, with Europe.  They brought us to where we are…..We absolutely refuse to choose sides.  We will not choose sides between America and China or between China and India.”

On Obama:

CHARLIE ROSE: That brings me to President Obama. What are your observations about him?

LEE KUAN YEW: He’s a very great and eloquent man who is very persuasive and is very able and has appointed very able people into his key positions. And what impressed me most is his appointing people of different minds.

For instance, on his economic team, there is Summers Paul Volcker, and they’re both very strong minded people.


Watch the interview on Bloomberg TV this coming Monday at 7PM Singapore, or

Watch the interview on TOC Youtube channel.

Click here for the full transcripts on TOC’s Facebook page.