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Lu Kuan Yew (LKY) must be the most experienced political leader still living to day, born in 1923 and still being as insightful as ever. The book is based on interviews by Harvard academics and on analysis of what LKY has written and his speeches. This format of questions and answers is effective, because the LKY gives original and innovative answers. He explains what is likely to happen as well as the risks that it can go wrong, very wrong. The chapter subjects are China, the USA, India, Islamic extremism, Globalization and Democracy.
In the rest of this review I have selected some of LKY's comments as examples of what you can expect on the subjects of vision, the purpose of government, the system of
Government, Leadership, National economic growth, China and the USA. His comments.
LKY comments. Society must maintain a balance between nurturing excellence in performance of the most capable, and encouraging the average to improve. There must be cooperation between people in the same society. There is a continual need to balance between a successful competitive society and a cohesive, compassionate one. To maintain cohesion, we buffer in Singapore the lowest 20%, the weaker achievers, from the tough competition of the market place. We support the lower-income workers with extra income.
Human beings are inherently vicious and have to be restrained from their viciousness. Confucius theory says people can be improved. I am not sure it can be, it can be disciplined. Law and order is essential, but many do not recognize that without order laws cannot be applied. Order also demands that people act in a disciplined way, which is not "natural".
The art of government is utilizing to the maximum the limited resources at the country's disposal (which requires continuous change, innovation, applying best practices developed in the own country or imported, and the application of science). We all seek a form of government that will be comfortable because it meets our needs, is not oppressive and maximizes our opportunities'
A political Leader must paint his vision of the future to the people, and then translate that vision into policies, which he must convince the people are worth supporting. Leaders must have the ability to plan and chart the way ahead and the fortitude to stay the course. There is no better way to run the country than putting the best man (as the leader) in the job.
The real issue is whether any government's political system., irrespective of whether it is democratic or authoritarian can forge consensus on the policies needed for the economy to grow and create jobs for all. LKY believes that Western democracies are not doing enough to teach the necessity of discipline of self-control, and self-reliance. LKY does believe in the merits of regular elections. A democracy can only function with a strong leader with the ability and courage to implement unpopular changes.
China will want to become co-equal with the USA by becoming economically in GDP number one. China does not want to dominate the world. It will aim to increase its sphere of influence in Asia where it will meet opposition. India and the USA together can maintain the necessary counterbalance in Asia. China will not become a liberal multi party democracy. It will expand freedom slowly, maintaining order with the Communist Party in charge even though LKY considers the government system that was copied from the Soviet Union a major weakness.

LKY is convinced the USA will overcome is problems as it has by far the most entrepreneurial culture in the world and will continue to be a world power.
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on 4 June 2013
Lee Kuan Yew is one of the most impressive of what I call "foundational rulers" of the 20th and 21st century, together with all too few others, such as David Ben-Gurion, Charles De Gaulle, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela. As humanity is increasingly in need of outstanding foundational rulers for coping with its cascading metamorphosis, driven by science and technology together with values transformations, there is much to learn from Yew and his many publications. Still, sorely missing is a comprehensive biography of Yew within the context of the making of modern Singapore.
This book is not substitute for what is missing, but it does whet the appetite for much more. The presented fragments of Yew's views serve well to counteract Western misperceptions and mind-shackling notions of what is "politically correct." Thus, to provide just some illustrations from Yes's view presented, however briefly, in the book: "It is the near-geniuses and the above-average who ultimately decide the shape of things to come" (p. 129); there is "the ever-present danger of regression and even collapse" (p. 134); leaders should not be over influenced by public opinion, there being "moments when [leaders] have to be thoroughly unpopular" (p. 117); China was right to repress the Tianamen students who "are irrelevant" (p. 153); and "China is not going to become a liberal democracy; if it did it would collapse" (p. 13).
Not all of Yew's views, as presented, are correct. Thus, he overemphasizes that "it is ultimately in the sphere of economics that results must be achieved" (p. 112), neglecting critical aspects of a "good life"; fateful implications science and technology for the future of humanity are discussed superficially (p. 102); and the need for decisive global governance for coping with critical issues is not taken up.
On a more mundane level, the eleven first pages (xiii-xxiii) of laudatory comments on Yew are not only unnecessary, but in my view rather tasteless. Instead, an index should have been included. But, this and similar minor points do not lessen the appeal of the book as a whole. Being easy to read and short (perhaps too much so), it is strongly recommended to all interested in geostrategy, leadership, politics, economics, and global futures.

Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, with Ali Wyne, examine the global perspectives of Lee Kuan Yew. Never heard of him? Allow Henry Kissinger to introduce him: "I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first premier and its guiding spirit ever since." What we have here is an extended Q&A format during which Yew responds to a series of questions that address eight major subjects:
A separate chapter is devoted to each.

1. The Future of China
2. The Future of the United States
3. The Future of U.S.-China Relations
4. The Future of India
5. The Future of Islamic Extremism
6. The Future of National Economic Growth
7. The Future of Geopolitics
8. The Future of Democracy

Then in Chapter 9, "How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks," his answers to the questions posed "reveal much about the principles and worldview that have shaped his political choices." These are among Yew's observations of greatest interest and value to me:

* * *

o Straight-line extrapolations from such a remarkable record [i.e. China's rapidly growing consumer market] are not realistic. China has more handicaps going forward and more obstacles to overcome than most observers recognize.

o China is not going to become a liberal democracy; if it did, it would collapse.

o I understood Deng Xiaoping when he said: if 200,000 students have to be shot, shoot them, because the alternative is China in chaos for another 100 years.

o The U.S. is going through a bumpy patch with its debt and deficits, but I have no doubt that America will not be reduced to second-rate status.

o Presidents do not get reelected if they give a hard dose of medicine to their people.

o The baiting of China by American human rights groups, and the threatening of loss of most-favored-nation status and other sanctions by the U.S. Congress and the administration for violations of human rights and missile technology transfers...ignore differences of culture, values, and history, and subordinate the strategic considerations of China-U.S. relations to an American agenda.

o Americans seem to think that Asia is like a movie and that you can freeze developments out whenever the U.S. becomes intensely involved elsewhere in the world. It does not work like that...The U.S. cannot come and go as it pleases.

o Islam has not been a problem. However, contemporary radical Islamism is a very serious problem.

o The Russian population is declining. It is not clear why, but alcoholism plays a role; so do pessimism, a declining fertility rate, and declining life expectancy.

o There is no viable alternative to global integration...Globalism is the only answer that is fair, acceptable, and will uphold world peace.

o They [the BRICS, the emerging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] are different countries on different continents that happen to be growing faster than other combinations of countries, so somebody said: why not bring them all together and make them into a global force?...The Chinese and Indians do not share the same dreams.

o I do not want to be remembered as a statesman...Anybody who thinks he is a statesman needs to see a psychiatrist.

* * *

According to the co-authors, "The purpose of this slim volume is not to look back on the past 50 years, remarkable as Lee's contributions to them have been. Rather, our focus is the future and the specific challenges that the United Stated will face during the next quarter century."

Here are complementary observations by Kissinger: "Lee's analyses shed light on the most important challenge that the United States confronts over the long term: how to build a fundamental and organic relationship with Asia, including China. There is nobody who can teach us more about the scope of this effort than Lee Kuan Yew."

I am grateful to Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne for the skill with which they prepared for, conducted, and then prepared for publication a unique and timely an interaction with one of the world's most influential thought leaders, Lee Kuan Yew. I also appreciate Henry Kissinger's contributions. This book is a "must read" for anyone interested in and (hopefully) concerned about global challenges that await all of us in months and years to come.
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on 22 July 2013
This assembles various remarks from numerous published sources. I found it less interesting that Lee Kwan Yew's own account in his two biographies. Still, it is much shorter, cheaper and more accessable. A series of interesting insights.
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on 6 April 2013
After spending 6 and a half years in Singapore during the premiership of mr, Lee, I was very interested in finding out what was his vision on the Asia-Pacific political situation. Great reading and glad I ordered this book.
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on 16 February 2014
It's useful to check on countries that are successful in economic development and look at what they are doing right.

In this regard Singapore has had rocket ship performance going from a nondescript Asian entrepôt in 1965 to an advanced industrial nation by the new millennium, so it is doubly interesting to hear Singapore's long time leader Lee Kuan Yew talk not only about Singapore, but also world development in general.

The inevitable focus is on China and the USA with this short book covering a lot of ground.

Basically he's a pragmatist who sees Western democracy as failing. As he says, "Westerners have abandoned an ethical basis for society believing that all problems (post WW2)are solvable by good government". He calls it, "The erosion of the moral underpinnings of a society and the diminution of personal responsibility" and he even goes further saying that, "Multiculturalism will destroy America." as society loses its identity and fractures.

It's not that he doesn't see benefits in multiculturalism. The US attracts top talent from around the world through an entrepreneurial culture, top universities and operating in the English language, but he suggests that multicultural projects must be carried out with great care such that new nationals become (in his case) Singaporeans first. To this end he limited Indian schools in Singapore since their Indian sentiment and cultural teaching inevitably undermined a primary loyalty to multi-ethnic but mono-cultural Singapore. It's a delicate balance and in the case of the US he sees it going wrong with the failure of the core Anglo cultural values of respect for family, country, thrift, hard work, scholarship and learning in the face of a new confused liberal multi-ethnic, counter-cultural identity.

He says that government has to be clean, rational, efficient and predictable with the USA failing on all counts so he is seriously worried about 1) the dollar, and 2) America's presence in Asia.

The dollar could well lose its reserve status sooner rather than later unleashing inflationary instability and dislocating world trade and he sees constant US deficits weakening the country to such an extent that it can no longer provide a credible alliance with Japan and the Asean nations. He doesn't spell it out but this is really the Nº1 China-Japan question with the Chinese giving every sign that Japan has to kowtow to it and Japan showing no intention of doing so.

Japan also has fully developed nuclear and rocket technology with the potential to quickly produce hundreds of nuclear weapons, which it may well do without a credible US ally.
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on 6 April 2013
It took an afternoon to read, but none the less was an extremely insightful view into the mind of a prominent figure in world politics.
His analysis of India I found especially interesting.
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on 29 January 2014
If you want a quick synopsis of Lee Kuan Yews views it's a must read, however if you are looking for something that doesn't just scratch the surface but looks into ISSUES more deeply then I'd advise another book.
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on 21 June 2015
A man of considerable intellect. When you read the words of Lee you know that he is basing his words on experience, no word is wasted, all he says Is thought out. You get the impression that he is a modest man who has devoted his life to understanding the world and applying his understanding to creating a successful Singapore. Every world leader should read this book, all political historians, international relations enthusiasts, anybody broadly interested in politics. He is a brilliant man, his voice should be heard.
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on 10 September 2013
His view is sharp, accurate and influential as well as straight to the point. Also well written with intriguing questions.
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