Lee Kuan Yew – The Man and his Legacy

~By: Gordon Lee~

First, in 2004, it was the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy within the NUS. Then from 2008, it was the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. From 2010, it was the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. In 2011, it was the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the new University (SUTD). This month, the Ministry of Education has just announced the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

At almost 89 years of age, and with a 13% statistical probability of dying within the next year [1], one cannot help but wonder if Lee Kuan Yew is working to build a legacy – his legacy as he sees it.

More importantly, one also wonders if and how the PAP Government and its members are involved in supporting the legacy-building of one of their fellow ComradesWe will look at each of these building blocks of LKY’s legacy in turn.

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – 2004

As reported in the Straits Times, “Singapore has set up a new school named after its founding father Lee Kuan Yew… The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was launched… as part of the state-funded National University of Singapore”[2].

It was reported in 2003 that “the Government is seeking the support of Singaporeans to raise funds for two projects to honour Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew”, one of these projects being the new School. This is even though in all his wisdom, LKY “has often stated his preference not to be feted with honours for his contributions to the country”. In fact, it was left to “Minister without Portfolio Lim Boon Heng and his committee” to raise millions from the public. [3] Yes, a minister of this country (with the support of the Government) raising funds for LKY’s glorification!

A list of donors to the new School include NTUC, PAP Community, and Government-owned companies such as MediaCorp, SPH and DBS Bank [4].

Probably to support the new School of Public Policy, in 2007, the board members of NUS’s Institute of Policy Studies (headed by a certain Prof. Tommy Koh) decided to merge the institute with the School.[5] Goh Chok Tong also stayed on as the patron of the Institute.[6] Today, Tommy Koh and Goh Chok Tong remain in the Institute, supporting the good work which the Institute does within its parent LKY School[7][8]. They are also supported by board member Janadas Devan, who is also Associate Editor of the Government’s Straits Times[9].

Donors to this subsidiary of the LKY School include Temasek Holdings, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, EDB, the Singapore Land Authority and GIC[10]. The chairman of GIC is Lee Hsien Loong, and the senior adviser is LKY himself! [11]


Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize – 2008

This prize is solely sponsored by the Singapore Millennium Foundation, which was set up and is funded by Temasek Holdings – the latter has a mandate to invest public money.[12]

This prize is also supported by organisations such as the LKY School of Public Policy, EDB, HDB, LTA, MCYS, MICA, MFA, and the list goes on.[13]

Lending a hand is DPM Teo Chee Hean, who chairs the prize council and decides how to award $1.5m of Temasek’s (our?) money.[14]


Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize – 2010

This prize is organised by the URA and a centre jointly established by two ministries.[15] The sole sponsor of the prize is Keppel Corporation, whose chairman is ex-Minister Lee Boon Yang (who also happens to be the chairman of SPH).[16] The largest shareholder of Keppel Corporation is Temasek Holdings.[17]

Helping out as Chairman of the Prize Council is ex-Minister S. Dhanabalan (who is also chairman of Temasek holdings). The Dean of the LKY School also helps out as Chairman of the Nominating Committee for the LKY World City Prize[18].


Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities – 2011

The LKY Centre is established within the new publicly-funded Singapore University of Technology and Design – which is supported by the Government at $3 for every $1 raised.[19] The University will accept its first intake of students this year.

Advising the LKY Centre are Singapore’s Ambassador to the US, Chan Heng Chee, and Professor of the LKY School, Peter Ho Hak Ean.[20]


Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism – 2012

LKY himself contributed $12m towards establishing the LKY Fund. The Government is also contributing up to $50m towards the LKY Fund, and Minister Heng Swee Keat has “volunteered” to chair the board of the LKY Fund.[21]

The question at the end of the day is this — to what extent should the Government support (directly or indirectly) the legacy-building of PAP MP Lee Kuan Yew?

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