Lee Kuan Yew quotes

Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.

Even from my sick bed, if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong and I get up.

What are our priorities? first the welfare, the survival of the people, then the democratic norms and processes.

I have a few million people’s lives to account for. Singapore will survive.

Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no way you can govern a Chinese society.

What I fear is complacency. When things always become better, people tend to want more for less work.

I do not yet know of a man who became a leader as a result of having undergone a leadership course.

I don’t believe in love at first sight. I think it’s a grave mistake. You’re attracted by physical characteristics, and you will regret it.

I’m not interested in changing either my suit or my car or whatever with every change in fashion. That’s irrelevant. I don’t judge myself or my friends by their fashions. Of course, I don’t approve of people who are sloppy and unnecessarily shabby or dishevelled… But I’m not impressed by a $5,000 or $10,000 Armani suit.

Life is not just eating, drinking, television and cinema. The human mind must be creative, must be self-generating; it cannot depend on just gadgets to amuse itself.

If you can select a population and they’re educated and they’re properly brought up, then you don’t have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It’s like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it’s got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts.

At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.

(Talking about Afghan war) I see the imbroglio in Iraq and Afghanistan as distractions. It’s not going to change the world, what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trying to make a country out of Afghanistan is a distraction. There was no country for the last 30 or 40 years. They have just been fighting each other since the last King was chased out. How on earth are you going to put these little bits together? It’s not possible.

I’m not an expert. But in my simple mind, it strikes me that you won in Iraq and you won in Afghanistan not because you fought the Taliban, but because you got the Northern Alliance to fight them. You provided the Northern Alliance with intelligence and capabilities to bomb them.

The main changes are taking place in China and India. It’s a watershed. The world order we knew was dominated by the Caucasian peoples. The 20th century was the American century. The first half of the 21st century will be the American. But I believe in the second half, they will have to share top places with China and India.

The 21st century will be a contest for supremacy in the Pacific. That’s where the growth will be. If you cannot hold your ground in the Pacific, you cannot be a world leader.