The following is, allegedly, Lee Kuan Yew’s posthumous letter to leaders of Lilliput, an oil rich, Third World Country that sent condolences to Singapore on Lee’s death in 2015. I have edited said letter for brevity…
“..Thanks, but I have had a good innings as do most of my people. The life expectancy in Singapore is 80 years for men and 85 for women.
I have no regrets because I did my country and my people proud. Let me share some facts.
We are ranked AAA by all the credit rating agencies, the only one in Asia ranked thus. We are the world’s fourth largest financial centre and one of its five busiest ports.
Manufacturing accounts for 30% of GDP and Singapore has the world’s third highest per capita income.
Unlike Lilliput, we don’t have any oil. Nor minerals, forests, mountain or any land to talk about. But, unlike you, we’re a huge exporter of petroleum products.
Meanwhile, Lilliput, with all its oil, has been importing petrol, diesel, kerosene and engine oil for decades.
Let me shock you further. We are the largest oil-rig producer in the world! The World Bank ranks us as the easiest place to do business in. I’m sorry if I sound immodest but what can I say?
How did we do it? In two words, incorruptible leadership.
First, the quality of leadership is non-negotiable. It’s the dog that wags the tail, not the other way around.
No country develops by accident. Development is planned.
That is where it starts. It’s when you have a vision of society with the basics. Education is key, electricity and water are key, health is key, infrastructure is non-negotiable. And you have to pick the best people to do the job, the best and the brightest. No compromises!
Leaders cannot be obsessed with instant gratification. That is one of the biggest problems you, Lilliputian leaders, have.
You’re so obsessed with official perks that you forget why you were even elected!
You like presidential jets and chattered jets. What a waste!
But you’re not alone.
In 1973, I went to Ottawa for the Commonwealth meeting. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman, arrived in his own aircraft.
I saw a parked Boeing 707 with “Bangladesh” emblazoned on it. When I left, it was still standing there, idle for eight days, getting obsolescent without earning anything.
As I left, two vans were being loaded with packages for the Bangladeshi aircraft. But Rahman had also made a pitch for aid to his country. You want aid while showing opulence to the world.
Meanwhile, I generally travelled by commercial aircraft and helped preserve Singapore’s Third World status for many years.
I understand that Lilliput leaders are very religious.
The Muslims pray five times a day, go for haj often, fast during Ramadan and mention the name of Allah to punctuate sentences. But clerics seem obsessed with judging others and punishing “immorality” rather than decrying dishonesty, fraud or theft. There seems more importance on form rather than substance. The Christians take communion, pay tithes and hold regular prayer sessions.
Yet, you loot your state treasury without compunction, inflate contracts recklessly, and watch — without conscience — as your citizens struggle with reckless development, water disruptions and potholes.
I died an agnostic. I neither denied nor accepted that there was a God although two of my brothers were Christians.
I was never a churchgoer. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not saying you should not believe in God. I only wonder: how can you believe in God and fail so woefully in what the Bible and the Qu’ran teaches about loving your neighbour, caring for the needy and showing responsibility as a leader?
On a final note, I appreciate that you are mourning my death. But you too can become great by putting your citizens’ welfare above yours. Lilliput can also produce a Lee.
I went to my grave happy. Will you go to yours fulfilled?”
With apologies (for edits) and thanks to the anonymous messenger who posted the idea on social media.