No one counted Singapore when it took birth in 1965 as an independent Republic. The primary challenges those Lee faced after becoming the first prime minister were disciplining the citizens, creating jobs, establishing sources of revenues, and building potable water facilities to reduce dependence on Malaysia. He continued addressing all these issues without any diversion over a period of 3 decades from 1959 till 1990 as the prime Minister of the nation. During this regime he brought in very strict laws and punishment systems and tamed the citizens to behave within framed code of conducts. He promoted education for all. He focused on to cleanliness of the tiny city nation as preparatory work towards his vision: prepare the nation to bring investment from MNCs.
Spitting in public, smoking in public, chewing ‘chewing gums’, even wearing wrong dress may not only warrant for fine but also put one in jail! So strict is the law there, easily one can guess the punishment for serious crimes!
Result? The moment you walk in to the city nation you feel like you have entered a huge holiday resort.
He made it mandatory for every 18 years old or more to serve country’s defense services. This was to tighten nation’s security system as it had a very week defense force post freedom and was threatened by confronting Indonesia from the neighborhood and communism from within.
He promoted child birth by educated graduate women. This was to produce an educated skilled workforce generation. He in fact set up a match making agency to socialize graduate man and women. MNCs would certainly look for a ready workforce once they were in and that was the agenda. To control population boom on this tiny land ‘Stop at Two’ policy was enacted. More than 2 children would attract social bias in availing government facilities.
He scrapped freedom of press to tame opposition and rebellion. That reduced political instabilities caused by unnecessary criticism of policies. He introduced canning as a corporal punishment. Drug addicts, illegal immigrants and 42 other crimes still invite canning in Singapore.
Singapore had corruption in it’s political system. Lee believed one way to stop this bug was to pay ministers well in order to fulfill their requirements. He equaled salaries of ministers, judges and top civil servants with that of top private sector professionals. He took only the most honest ministers in his cabinet to mitigate any kind of corruption in the system. He provided the nation a distinction that was severely absent in it’s neighboring countries. A corruption free governance. Continue reading The Rise of Singapore – And Leadership Lessons from Lee Kuan Yew (part 2)