10 Memorable Quotes from Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

Written by Epi Ludvik

Singapore-Lee-Kuan-Yew

As Singaporeans mourn for the loss of nation’s founding prime minister, we at Crowdsourcing Week would like to pay tribute to Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements in turning Singapore into one of the most progressive nations in the world today. He passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital, Monday 3.18am at 91.

Present-day Singapore, holds tremendous promise for Asia and the world and is a big reason why our global headquarters is located here and the city -nation hosts our annual global conference every year. The foundation for this global powerhouse city was laid by Lee Kuan Yew. Sir, we at salute the Singapore you have built. Rest in peace.

Known for his authoritarian, iron-fisted, and “ideology-free” principles, he gained respect and honor for the nation’s transformation, despite the criticisms and political opponents throughout his reign and after that his behind-the-scenes influence in the parliament.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living,” wrote Marcus Tullius Cicero. These strikingly telling quotes from Mr. Lee will tell us more. We have lost one of the world’s inspiring leaders, yet his legacy in Singapore will always remain.

To opponents and critics:

“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.”

“Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no way you can govern a Chinese society.”

On leadership and motivation:

“Even from my sick bed, if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.”

“What I fear is complacency. When things always become better, people tend to want more for less work.”

“I do not yet know of a man who became a leader as a result of having undergone a leadership course.”

On love:

“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.”

On fashion:

“I’m not interested in changing either my suit or my car or whatever with every change in fashion. That’s irrelevant. I don’t judge myself or my friends by their fashions. Of course, I don’t approve of people who are sloppy and unnecessarily shabby or dishevelled… But I’m not impressed by a $5,000 or $10,000 Armani suit.”

On life:

“Life is not just eating, drinking, television and cinema. The human mind must be creative, must be self-generating; it cannot depend on just gadgets to amuse itself.”

On government, politics and civil concerns:

“If you can select a population and they’re educated and they’re properly brought up, then you don’t have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It’s like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it’s got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts.”

“At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.”

Image credit via Creative Commons/Flickr

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About Author

About Author

Epi Ludvik

Epi Ludvik is the Founder & CEO of Crowdsourcing Week and BOLD Awards. In 2008, he created Ludvik + Partners - one of New York’s hottest boutique virtual ad agencies built on a 100% crowdsourcing model. Epi is one of the pioneers in the crowdsourcing ad space, an industry expert and thought leader in entertainment advertising - including public relations, event production, experiential marketing, consumer advertising and digital marketing. Epi earned a BS in Advertising & Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and has been a serial entrepreneur since graduation. His varied and global experiences throughout his career have taken him across the US and Asia, where he honed his skills in advertising and media with high-profile clients and power brands.

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