Do not print pictures of me smiling – Lee Kuan Yew

The United Kingdom (UK) introduced the Freedom of Information Act in 2000. It allows members of the public access to otherwise confidential papers in the possession of “public authorities”.

The UK released papers pertaining to Singapore’s independence several years ago.

Below is a copy of a memo which was sent by a UK official in Singapore to the office in London in 1965. In it, the official (whose name and position we aren’t sure of) describes what transpired at the press conference at which Mr Lee Kuan Yew explained Singapore’s departure from Malaysia.

We publish a copy of the memo for one interesting note – contained in the second paragraph of the memo. Mr Lee was reported to have “threatened ‘punitive’ measures against any newspaper which printed pictures of him smiling.”

Was Mr Lee smiling before that press conference? If so, why would he be – given the gravity of the situation and that later in the press conference Mr Lee himself cried?

The memo:

The press conference in1965 which shows Lee Kuan Yew crying.