As always, Singapore MM Lee Kuan Yew gives a cracker of an interivew.
This is the complete transcript of Minister Mentor (as the founder of modern singapore is now known) Lee Kuan Yew's interview with syndicated columnist Tom Plate of the UCLA Media Center and new-media expert Jeffrey Cole of the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future. It took place on Sept. 27, 2007 in the minister's private office at Istana, Singapore.Here's an excerpt that might interest the readers of this blog:
Q: It's amazing, you come in here and you walk around here in one of the great cities in the world. Yet you are worried about survival.
Lee: Where are we? Are we in the Caribbean? Are we next to America like the Bahamas? Are we in the Mediterranean, like Malta, next to Italy? Are we like Hong Kong, next to China and therefore, will become part of China? We are in Southeast Asia, in the midst of a turbulent, volatile, unsettled region. Singapore is a superstructure built on what? On 700 square kilometers and a lot of smart ideas that have worked so far -- but the whole thing could come undone very quickly.
For this to work, you require a world where there are some rules of international law and there is a balance of forces of power that will enforce that international law and the U.S. is foremost in that. Without that balance of power and international law, the Vietnamese will still be in Cambodia and the Indonesians will still be in East Timor, right? Why are they out? Because there were certain norms that had to be observed. You can't just cross boundaries. This little island with four and a half million people, of whom 1.3 are foreigners working here, has got to maintain an army, navy and an air force. Can we withstand a concerted attempt to besiege us and blockade us? We can repel an attack, yes. Given the armed forces in the region and our capability, we can repel and we can damage them. Three weeks, food runs out, we are besieged, blockaded.
Q: Who will come after you? Who would come after you?
Lee: There are assets here to be captured, right?
Q: Some unnamed bad regime?
Lee: When [Malaysia] kicked us out [in 1965], the expectation was that we would fail and we will go back on their terms, not on the terms we agreed with them under the British. Our problems are not just between states, this is a problem between races and religions and civilizations. We are a standing indictment of all the things that they can be doing differently. They have got all the resources. If they would just educate the Chinese and Indians, use them and treat them as their citizens, they can equal us and even do better than us and we would be happy to rejoin them.