Tuesday, January 5, 2010

National Geographic interviews MM Lee Kwan Yew

Our Mentor Minister Lee Kwan Yew was interviewed by National Geographic last year on a few issues. Below is the edited excerpts from the interview.

MM Lee is respected by many politicians, reporters and many people around the world. As such, his words do carry some weight and it's good to always take note of what he says.

1. Perfectibility of man


MM Lee says “I don’t think I ever started off with that hypothesis or that basis. I always thought that humanity was animal-like and that Confucian theory was Man can be improved. I’m not sure it can be but it can trained, it can be disciplined. I’m not sure you can actually change the character of a man but you can discipline him and make him, you make a left-hander write with his right hand but you can’t really change his natural born instincts to use his left hand. But a Confucianist belief Man is perfectible which is an optimistic belief...” (Read the full excerpt on The Straits Times, 5 January)

2. Rise of evangelical Christians in Sing

Religious harmony is vital to Singapore

MM Lee says You see most Chinese here are Buddhists or Taoist ancestor worshippers. I'm one of them, so it is a tolerant society, it says whatever you want to believe in, you go ahead. And these youngsters, the educated ones, Western-educated especially, now they are all English-educated, their mother tongue is the second language. Therefore, they begin to read Western books and Western culture and so on and then the Internet. So they (the youngsters) begin to question...what is this mumbo-jumbo, the ancestors and so on? And then they have got groups, Christian groups who go out and evangelize. They (evangelical Christians) catch them in their late teens when they’re malleable and open to suggestions and then they become very fervent evangelists themselves. My granddaughter is one of them. She’s now 28....Well, they (the evangelical Christians) know here that if they get politically active, they will incite the Buddhist, the Taoist, the Muslims, the Hindus and others to do similar response.” (Read the full excerpt on The Straits Times, 5 January)

3. Why does Singapore have to be Number 1 in everything?

Singapore - The best we can be

MM Lee says ”If we don’t strive to be number one, you won’t be number ten. You will be number ten. You try to be number one, you might be number two or number three. Do your best. You don’t have to be number one but do your best and try to be number one. That’s our attitude. Look, we have got no natural resources, we have got nothing except human beings in a small strategic location.”

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