Singapore’s survival


Singaporeans must be made aware of the dangers lurking ahead in an age of great changes and uncertainties. We take the future for granted only at our own peril. We had survived because we are a practical and realistic people.


Excerpts from discussion with PAP MPs, 17th November 1981

Excerpts from discussion with PAP MPs, 17th November 1981
Speech on National day at City Hall, 3rd June 1964
Singapore’s foundation


The future is what we make of it. We owe it to ourselves to give of our best to build the foundations of a harmonious and integrated nation, peaceful, prosperous and vigilant, a haven of tolerance, harmony and progress in the stormy seas of Southeast Asia.


Speech on National day at City Hall, 3rd June 1964

Good Government


To get good government, you must have good men in charge of government. I have observed in the last 40 years that even with poor system of government, but with good strong men in charge, people (still) get passable government with decent progress.



White Paper on Ministerial Salaries, 1st Nov 1994

Leadership succession


My final task was to ensure that equally able and honest successors were in place to take over from the old guard. The governance of Singapore has become more complex. They have to maintain its security and stability, manage a more complex economy and continue to ensure social equity between our different races.


Foreword to Men in White: The Untold Story of

Singapore's Ruling Political Party, 2009

His self-perception


I do not classify myself as a statesman. I put myself down as determined, consistent, persistent. I set out to do something, I keep on chasing it until it succeeds. That’s all. That’s how I perceive myself. Not a statesman.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, 2011

His original aspiration


It was circumstances that created me: the defeat of the British, the complete collapse of morale, the Japanese brutality, the reoccupation, the struggle for power between the communists and us as the British were withdrawing. That’s what created what I am. I don’t think I wanted to be a statesman, that’s rubbish. You don’t become a statesman. I wanted to be a lawyer.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, 2011

What Singapore has achieved


Sixty years ago a small group of like-minded Singaporeans and I got together to form the People's Action Party. Our goal was Merdeka - independence from the British. From 21 November 1954 onwards, we began a long, hard fight to achieve our goals. We steadfastly upheld basic principles…we spread the benefits of progress widely…we improved the lives of Singaporeans through good jobs, ownership of their HDB homes and a bright future for our children. 


Singapore has climbed from the Third World to the First. But the work is never finished. The world keeps changing and so must we.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew in his Foreword to PAP60: Forward Together, 2014

What's at stake for him


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. And Singapore will survive, will trade with the whole world, and will remain non-Communist.


Press Conference at City Hall,

26th August 1965

Press Conference at City Hall, 26th August 1965
Media's role in developing Singapore


In a fledgling society such as Singapore, with all its internal divisions of race, language and religion, the media would have to play a role in helping to keep the society together and upholding its values.


The Singapore Press Club,

15th November 1972

The Singapore Press Club, 15th November 1972
Singapore's strength


Ask yourself this question…how is that is island, 600 square kilometres, 2.5 million population, can give jobs all its citizens and everyone who wants a job… and give jobs to more than 150,000 work permit holders, over 10% of our workforce?  Organisation, stability, efficient, effective and corruption free government, everything works. 


National Day Rally, 1984 

Popular Government


My idea of popular government is that you don't have to be popular all the time when you are governing...There are moments when you have to be thoroughly unpopular. But at the end of your term, you should have brought about sufficient benefits so that the people realise what you did was necessary and will vote for you again.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and his Ideas, 1997

Secret of Singapore’s success


If there was one formula for success, it was that we were constantly studying how to make  things work, or how to make them work better. I was never a prisoner of any theory. What guided me were reason and reality. The acid test I applied to every theory or scheme was, would it work?


Mr Lee Kuan Yew: From Third World to First, 2000

Singapore’s Turning Point


Once in a long while in the history of a people, there comes a moment of great change. Tonight is such a moment in our lives … We begin a new chapter in the history of Singapore. The powers of the people through their elected government is limited to our internal affairs. It is not what we really want. It is but a step forward towards merger and Merdeka.


Mass rally following the PAP’s victory in the 1959,

Singapore General Election, 3 June 1959

Mass rally following the PAP’s victory in the 1959, Singapore General Election, 3 June 1959
Building a knowledge-based economy


We cannot go backwards in time, to the old trading port of Singapore. We have to move forward and upwards, diversify our economy, upgrade technology in factories and offices, and increase our knowledge and skills.


National Day Message, 8 August 1982

National Day Message, 8 August 1982
Defending Singapore


People must feel that Singapore is worth being part of and worth defending. Otherwise, we cease to exist…. We can make Singapore a vibrant and thriving society, with opportunities for a rewarding and fulfilling life.


National Day Message, 8 August 1989