Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew

By Fareed Zakaria

From our March/April 1994 Issue


"One of the asymmetries of history," wrote Henry Kissinger of Singapore’s patriarch Lee Kuan Yew, "is the lack of correspondence between the abilities of some leaders and the power of their countries." Kissinger’s one time boss, Richard Nixon, was even more flattering. He speculated that, had Lee lived in another time and another place, he might have "attained the world stature of a Churchill, a Disraeli, or a Gladstone." This tag line of a big man on a small stage has been attached to Lee since the 1970s. Today, however, his stage does not look quite so small. Singapore’s per capita GNP is now higher than that of its erstwhile colonizer, Great Britain. It has the world’s busiest port, is the third-largest oil refiner and a major center of global manufacturing and service industries. And this move from poverty to plenty has taken place within one generation. In 1965 Singapore ranked economically with Chile, Argentina and Mexico; today its per capita GNP is four or five times theirs.

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous

Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.

Gabrielle Glaser

APRIL 2015

J.G. is a lawyer in his early 30s. He’s a fast talker and has the lean, sinewy build of a distance runner. His choice of profession seems preordained, as he speaks in fully formed paragraphs, his thoughts organized by topic sentences. He’s also a worrier—a big one—who for years used alcohol to soothe his anxiety.

J.G. started drinking at 15, when he and a friend experimented in his parents’ liquor cabinet. He favored gin and whiskey but drank whatever he thought his parents would miss the least. He discovered beer, too, and loved the earthy, bitter taste on his tongue when he took his first cold sip.

His drinking increased through college and into law school. He could, and occasionally did, pull back, going cold turkey for weeks at a time. But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep. After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.

By the time he was a practicing defense attorney, J.G. (who asked to be identified only by his initials) sometimes drank almost a liter of Jameson in a day. He often started drinking after his first morning court appearance, and he says he would have loved to drink even more, had his schedule allowed it. He defended clients who had been charged with driving while intoxicated, and he bought his own Breathalyzer to avoid landing in court on drunk-driving charges himself.

In the spring of 2012, J.G. decided to seek help. He lived in Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Rehabs, people there like to say—and he knew what to do: check himself into a facility. He spent a month at a center where the treatment consisted of little more than attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He tried to dedicate himself to the program even though, as an atheist, he was put off by the faith-based approach of the 12 steps, five of which mention God. Everyone there warned him that he had a chronic, progressive disease and that if he listened to the cunning internal whisper promising that he could have just one drink, he would be off on a bender.

J.G. says it was this message—that there were no small missteps, and one drink might as well be 100—that set him on a cycle of bingeing and abstinence. He went back to rehab once more and later sought help at an outpatient center. Each time he got sober, he’d spend months white-knuckling his days in court and his nights at home. Evening would fall and his heart would race as he thought ahead to another sleepless night. “So I’d have one drink,” he says, “and the first thing on my mind was: I feel better now, but I’m screwed. I’m going right back to where I was. I might as well drink as much as I possibly can for the next three days.”

He felt utterly defeated. And according to AA doctrine, the failure was his alone. When the 12 steps don’t work for someone like J.G., Alcoholics Anonymous says that person must be deeply flawed. The Big Book, AA’s bible, states:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.

Lee Kuan Yew: Lessons for leaders from Asia's 'Grand Master'

Graham Allison,
Special to CNN

March 28, 2015

In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew had remarkable success in creating a prosperous modern state
His lessons should prove instructive to other leaders in a time of great instability, writes Graham Allison

Graham Allison is director of Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and co-author of the book Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

(CNN)The death of the founding father of Singapore last Monday is an appropriate occasion to reflect on nation building.

As prime minister for its first three decades, Lee Kuan Yew raised a poor port from the bottom rungs of the third world to the first world in a single generation.

As it prepares to mark its 50th anniversary as a nation, Singapore is today an ultra-modern metropolis of almost six million people with higher per capita GDP than the United States, according to the World Bank.

Lee's achievement in building a successful nation contrasts sharply with the results of Washington's expenditure of over $4 trillion and nearly 7,000 American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

Some say Singapore's story is sui generis: Something that could only happen in that time and place.

But its remarkable performance has less to do with miraculous conditions than with Lee's model of disciplined, visionary leadership.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Singapore-Style Meritocracy: Lessons for China

Daniel A. Bell

Philosopher, Tsinghua University; author "The China Model"

BEIJING -- In 1991, I was offered my first teaching job, a post as a lecturer in political theory at the National University of Singapore. Three years later, I was told to leave because I didn't "fit in." The truth is that I did not fit in. I strongly disliked the political system, and even more strongly disliked its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.

More than two decades later, I returned to the National University of Singapore as a visiting professor and came to realize that my earlier judgments were rooted in a dogmatic attachment to the view that Western-style liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government. Once that view is set aside, it becomes clear that Mr. Lee, as the Americans like to say, was on the "right side of history." And today, I am deeply saddened by Mr. Lee's death.

Yes, Mr. Lee was an inspiring and charismatic leader, but that wasn't his greatest contribution. Most important, he recognized and rewarded talent in other great leaders, such as Goh Keng Swee, and built up a meritocratic system designed to select and promote political leaders of superior ability and virtue: a system designed to outlive Mr. Lee himself. That is Mr. Lee's greatest legacy.

My father and our founding father

Mar 29, 2015

Over time, both distant, disapproving figures turned into real beings I could relate to

By Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion Editor

When I was growing up, God, my father and Lee Kuan Yew all merged into one.

I was the youngest child in a Teochew-speaking, working-class Chinese household. My parents were immigrants from China, who ran a hawker stall for much of my formative years.

My father was a stern patriarch who was not averse to using the cane. My mother was a traditional Chinese wife and self-sacrificing mother, with a twinkling sense of humour with those close to her. She tended to our household altar, placing platters of food there on religious or festive days. She prayed to the deity who I found out years later is supposed to be the Kitchen God, assigned by the Emperor of Heaven to report on a family's doings. The offerings were meant to placate the deity and sweeten his tongue when he delivered reports.

As for Lee Kuan Yew, he was just the man who founded the nation that I heard and read about. Like God, he was everywhere in the ether. Like God, he was all-powerful and all-knowing. Lee Kuan Yew didn't affect my family's life much in a direct way, although his policies formed the arc within which ordinary lives like ours were lived.

In Memoriam: Opinion pieces on Lee Kuan Yew from the newspapers around the world

24 Mar 2015

"Many of us heard him and will never forget him," writes former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Washington Post.

SINGAPORE: Following the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on Monday (Mar 23), newspapers from around the world have published opinion and analysis pieces about his life and his accomplishments.

Henry Kissinger, Washington Post

"I began this eulogy by mentioning my friendship with Lee. He was not a man of many sentimental words. And he nearly always spoke of substantive matters. But one could sense his attachment. A conversation with Lee, whose life was devoted to service and who spent so much of his time on joint explorations, was a vote of confidence that sustained one’s sense of purpose.

"The great tragedy of Lee’s life was that his beloved wife was felled by a stroke that left her a prisoner in her body, unable to communicate or receive communication. Through all that time, Lee sat by her bedside in the evening reading to her. He had faith that she understood despite the evidence to the contrary.

"Perhaps this was Lee Kuan Yew’s role in his era. He had the same hope for our world. He fought for its better instincts even when the evidence was ambiguous. But many of us heard him and will never forget him.”

Why don’t states declare war anymore?

March 27, 2015

Dear Cecil:
As far as I can tell, nations have stopped formally declaring war since the end of World War II. But can war only be declared between nations? With the rise in terrorist groups, could the U.S. or another country declare war against Al-Qaeda or Isis or some other group rather than another nation? Or is any declaration of war just plain irrelevant these days?