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SINGAPORE

Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew says Xi Jinping is in Mandela's class

Elder statesman's new book praises president's 'great breadth' and the way he endured many trials to work his way up Communist Party ladder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 7:29am

Lee Kuan Yew has praised President Xi Jinping as a man of "great breadth", comparing him to Nelson Mandela.

The high praise from Lee, Singapore's founding father who turns 90 next month, comes from his new book, One Man's View of the World, which was launched yesterday.

He appeared alert but frail at the launch and did not take questions.

Lee is widely credited with building Singapore into one of the world's wealthiest nations with a strong, pervasive role for the state and little patience for dissent. His influence extended beyond the tiny population of 5.3 million, as the city state's economic success served as a model for many developing countries, including China under Deng Xiaoping , and he still garners respect from global leaders.

In his book, Lee says he met Xi in November 2007 in the communist leader's first meeting with a foreign leader after he was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee. "He struck me as a man of great breadth," said Lee, praising the way Xi endured various trials and tribulations and worked his way up through the Communist Party. "I would put him in the Nelson Mandela class of persons."

Although China is becoming increasingly powerful, Lee said the United States' economic prowess was unlikely to wane, due to its innovative skills that lead to gadgets such as the iPad.

But it was worrying that President Barack Obama had recently lost several of his aides, Lee added. "That such experienced advisers have left him is not a good sign," he said.

Lee also used his book to defend his political legacy. He rejected as "absurd" suggestions that his "Stop At Two" children campaign in the 1970s played a part in the decline of current fertility rates in Singapore.

Rather, he insisted that the reluctance of couples to have more children was the result of changed lifestyles and mindsets, which no amount of financial perks could alter. Lee said the falling fertility rate remained Singapore's biggest survival threat.

He pointed to the example of Japan, which he said was on a "stroll into mediocrity" as the ranks of its elderly swelled due to young couples not wanting enough babies. Japan's reluctance to open up to immigrants would further lead to its decline.

Lee handed power to his deputy Goh Chok Tong in 1990 after 31 years in office but stayed on as a cabinet adviser until 2011.

On his fears for the future of Singapore, Lee, who once famously vowed to rise from his grave if something went wrong with the country, now seems ready to let fate run its course.

"I have done my job," he said. "I found a successor and handed over to another generation ... I cannot live forever as a young, vigorous 40- or 50-year-old."

Agence France-Presse, Reuters

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fg0616@hotmail.com
Another white man's puppy dog
jayb
Lee also said China should adopt English as official language and discourage Chinese language like Singapore. he should come to US with the "hablo espanol" crowd....rsrs
pslhk
Carpetbaggers ousted from their home countries
have “Demo crazy” as their only goods to sell
that’s why they must blackmouth Lee KY
The latter is wrong also because he is a wrong Lee
unrelated to General Robert E
-
If their “democracy” is any good
the West would have claimed IP
and demanded patent royalties
-
Their democracy, religion, and language
are their meat and others poison
geoffrey.akinya
Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore must explain to Xi Jinping and PRC what their 'special relationship' with the United States is really all about, and why it is standing with and aligning with the western interests who are against PRC and PRC interests. Explain loud and clear without any excuses. Singapore claims to be a friend and partner of PRC yet it is a special partner of the USA. When the time comes to choose your friends, who will be your enemy ?
fuminchu
Understandably, Westerners need to belittle Lee Kuan Yew, because he is the most successful example of an Asian getting it done the Asian way.
dunndavid
Lee who? Shanghai and New York's have districts bigger than Singapore. Who cares what this guy has to say.
And of course Singapore's government had plenty to do with exasperating their population problems. When you have a government believing so strongly that they and only they know best expect problems.
fuminchu
If only Hong Kong was lucky enough to ever have a leader like LKY who had the guts to call the shots, and call them as strategically, intelligently, and benevolently as him. LKY came up with solutions that Singapore needed, although some may have resulted in undesirable side-effects. But he stood by his decisions like any great leader and left a legacy of problem solving governance. Hong Kong with a culture of constant whining and moaning without any coherent solutions to solve its problems are in no position to criticize LKY or Singapore.
lamlm38
what is he smoking these days? or he forgot to take his medication..
THC
Unfortunately the Great man cannot solve the current problems and left it to his successors to pursue the continuity of Sg and his political party by bringing in loads of foreigners without bothering with the impact on the locals hardship and loyalty. We will see the effect of these actions and the political weakening of the ruling party which were already present in the last few by elections.
Carioca no Coracao
big fan of Lee. i have read 3 of his biographies. must read for anyone interested in contemporary history and statecraft.

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