Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lessons from Singapore's Founder : Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew


Described by Time magazine as “a man of great intelligence, with no patience for mediocrity”, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is incredibly brilliant, and it shows in his words and actions. From nothings he built Singapore as a country of Everything! Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away peacefully on 23 March 2015. While people from all over the world are paying their respect. We dedicate this post as tribute to his fantastic leadership.

As a leader who has led a team to achieve the impossible, it’ll be extremely useful to see what we can learn from this great man.


If you’ve heard his speech before, you’ll understand.He is known for giving Sincere , powerful, passionate speeches, and when he speaks, it’s difficult not to listen. 

“I have been accused of many things in my life, but not even my worst enemy has ever accused me of being afraid to speak my mind.” (1955)


If you want to please everyone you will get nowhere. Many leaders succumbed to fast decisions just to stay popular. Being able to care less about what people think, and focus on getting your facts right is something many people can learn from.

“If you can’t think because you can’t chew, try a banana.”  From a BBC article about Singapore’s ban on chewing gum, 2000



Mr Lee was a top student in Singapore, and was once again the top student when he studied overseas.Mr Lee brought a red briefcase to work, and in there, he jotted down notes about both important and “trivial” things, but they were all about Singapore, the nation he built.

“Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.” — From the 1988 National Day Rally



“You lose nothing by being polite. The answer is ‘No’, but please say it politely and give the reasons… Explain to me why ‘No’. Don’t change ‘No’ to ‘Yes’. Don’t be a fool. If there was a good reason why it is ‘No’, it must remain ‘No’, but the man must be told politely.”  To Civil Servants at the Victoria Theatre, 30 Sep 1965



Turns out Mr Lee takes after Machiavelli’s philosophy in The Prince — that a good leader is a feared one. With his iron-fisted policies, he was a feared leader, but was highly respected and spoke with great confidence.


Lee Kuan Yew has always been a well-known realist.

“Because of my house, neighbouring houses cannot be built high. I said — demolish my house, change the planning rules, and the land value will go up. I don’t think my daughter or my wife or I, who lived in it, or my sons who grew up in it, will bemoan its loss.” – Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going



All those local and international mourning shows how much respect Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has gained. Thank you Sir! Your legacy is of hard work, integrity and sacrifice will always remain bright and enduring for the people of Singapore. May you now rest in peace, Sir.


Srivatsan Aravamudan

Design and Communication

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