August 16, 2005

Lee Kwan Yew on democracy vs. multiculturalism

From a Der Spiegel interview with the 81-year-old founder of the Singaporean state (via GNXP).

SPIEGEL: During your career, you have kept your distance from Western style democracy. Are you still convinced that an authoritarian system is the future for Asia?

Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people's position. In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that...

SPIEGEL: ... and that turned Singapore de facto into a one party state. Critics say that Singapore resembles a Lee Family Enterprise. Your son is the Prime Minister, your daughter-in-law heads the powerful Development Agency...

Mr. Lee: ... and my other son is CEO of Singapore Telecoms, my daughter is head of the National Institute for Neurology. This is a very small community of 4 million people. We run a meritocracy. If the Lee Family set an example of nepotism, that system would collapse. If I were not the prime minister, my son could have become Prime Minister several years earlier. It is against my interest to allow any family member who's incompetent to hold an important job because that would be a disaster for Singapore and my legacy. That cannot be allowed.

There's so much romanticized worship of the Ellis Island immigration these days that it's heretical to mention the obvious fact that massive European immigration was a blow to democracy at the local level in America. It's hard to run a multiethnic city without venal machine politics. Chicago, for example, remains a one party town all the way into the 21st century. Like Singapore and the Lee family, Chicago has settled upon dynastic family rule as the best solution, with DaLee Rich-Mike following DaLee Rich-Joe as mayor for 37 of the last 50 years, and who knows how many years to come.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Sheila said...

For all that I hated my two years in Singapore, I have to admit Lee Kwan Yew makes a lot of sense here. I suppose one can support his very rational argument for ethnocentrism (would we had such enlightened self interest in the U.S.) while simultaneously disliking Han Chinese and their habits and hypocrisy.