When you visit Singapore, you will be in awe of its modernity, vibe, cleanliness, and fantastic Indochinese food with a strong sense of order, a clear rule of law, and advanced business culture—the result of a carefully applied paradox of freedom.
The aforementioned are not bad achievements for a dilapidated harbor town and tiny country in the middle of Asia the British colonizers left behind and has grown phenomenally from a GDP per capita of $230 under British reign to $44,000 in 2011 when Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), considered Singapore’s founding father and first prime minister, left office. Per capita GDP has reached $55,000 in 2018.
Even more impressive than GDP growth, as you know from my writing, is a mere consequence of how LKY combined the racial, language, and religious diversity of the Chinese, Malay, and Indian into a unifying policy to help Singapore prosper. How LKY achieved that feat is a fantastic lesson that defies the politically correct nonsense percolating Western world societies today.
The Chinese leadership was so impressed with Singapore’s state on a visit with LKY that they promptly adopted some of his principles as the guiding principles for China, a huge and oft-not-written-about endorsement, disclosed on video by LKY himself.
I couldn’t be more pleased to discover how LKY, whose work I began investigating less than a week ago, used the first-principles of my new operating-system of humanity in 1958. It is not surprising because I did not invent those first-principles. They are, in actuality, nature’s irrefutable first-principles any elected leader worthy of being a leader should aim to align with. LKY was way ahead of his time.
First and foremost, the way LKY used his growing influence was remarkable. Even though his party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), won the electoral votes through a democratic process and defeated the communist party handsomely, LKY subsequently used a rather unconventional set of tactics to whip his country into shape.
LKY explained to his people that every major decision he made was not the result of pleasing a dominant amalgam of electoral interests but correlated to all Singaporeans’ collective improvement, regardless of position, descent, or voting status. LKY’s astute awareness, intelligence, and leadership qualities non-uniformly applied to finetune his country’s progress set him apart from political peers on the world stage, even by today’s standards.
When the PAP won the election, Asia was a rough and tumble environment, with a lot of diverging interests stemming from the cultural differences of the Singapore people and the pressure and dominance applied by the neighboring countries.
I still saw some of Singapore’s roughness when I first visited the city in the early 1990s as I wandered away from the eclectic shopping downtown into a not-yet revived neighborhood. I ended up playing basketball with kids who agreed to play an impromptu pickup game barefoot, unable to purchase fancy basketball shoes. Demonstrating they already had the inspiring mindset, character, and faith in the future to respect and embrace socioeconomic differences determined to emerge from the state they were in personally.
Another observation I made was when all telephone companies, mostly landline, in the early 1990s charged an arm and a leg for per-minute conversations; Singapore made telephony free, charging only a one-time 10-cent connection fee and allowing people to communicate and transact freely to grease the skids of acuity.
I realize now how the seeds LKY planted early, from establishing guiding principles he held onto with courage and determination, made Singaporeans initially begrudgingly envision their socioeconomic mobility before it even materialized. Here are three simple precepts LKY established for Singapore:
Singapore had to clean house and root out all corruption, beginning within the government. The Singaporean government was held to above-board standards, so the people could have faith that what the government was doing was in the best interest of its people, not its politicians. When corruption was discovered, taking a bribe, the punishment was swift and career-ending in one prominent case, leading to the suicide of one of its members.
Compare the Singaporean principle with the embarrassing pay-to-play model of American politics. It turned into a distrustful model of influence, as I witnessed personally by being nudged to which political party I made financial contributions as the conduit to listen and open up political pathways. On principle, I refuse any pay-to-play. The American Constitution should, too, restore the American people’s trust.
The diverse origins of the Singaporean people meant favoritism of specific population groups was imminent. The Chinese thought they were more worthy than the Malay, and language preference lured them to impose more segregation—the association with dominant religions bound to throw another wrench in the impartial evaluation of merit. LKY immediately stopped that by emphasizing the interest and growth of all Singaporeans, eliminating any preferential treatment related to descent, and instituting the English language as the unifying language between all people in Singapore, ready to meet the needs of integrating with the rest of the world.
Compare the Singaporean principle with the unbridled and opaque pillage-and-plunder of oligarchies, often exulted as The American Dream, perpetuated by America’s fear of applying a much-needed paradox to freedom, that leaves many Americans and their offspring with growing and permanent disadvantages (I have described ad nauseam). Taking a driver’s license test in California in 32 different languages is not a bright endeavor to promote the unification of becoming an American.
While operating models and aspirations are essential constructs to convey the reasoning and trajectory of a prosperous society, any model of upstream renewal, as you can read in my evolution of evolution, is predicated on pragmatic downstream suboptimizations to finetune to reality. LKY instituted a fair-and-share principle across race, language, and religion, going as far as to temporarily boost specific underserved communities to lift them to the egalitarian standards and merit of all Singaporeans.
Compare the Singaporean principle with the one-size-fits-all ignorance of human excellence in America. We treat a person who decides to indulge in endless consumerism weighing north of 400 pounds with the same respect as a person who determines wellness is the responsible course of action as their social footprint. We ignore the social pragmatism and impact that blame supposedly lazy parents rather than a lack of economic opportunity, causing a quarter of children in the public school system not to know where their next meal will come from.
Whether Singapore will be able to renew itself in a prosperous fashion since Lee Kuan Yew’s death in 2015 will depend on the ability of its government to adhere to even more well-defined first-principles of evolutionary excellence, as I explain in a masterclass designed for policy-makers.
As in a startup, the strategy for emergence is not the same as continued success. An adjustment to Singapore’s principles is needed for its people to prosper in an increasingly global world, in which the lure of freedom to each his own will increasingly entice young and prosperous Singaporeans to leave the rigor and stability of the home.
A New Chapter
A better definition and implementation of freedom are needed to allow Singapore to develop more self-governing pragmatism, while in the words of Albert Einstein, not losing sight of the excellence of the theory determining what its people can discover and contribute collectively.
Hats off to the great man who got Singapore to this first-world problem in the first place.