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Fab People Politics

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Mar 23, 2015

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

September 16, 1923 - March 23, 2015
Location: Singapore

Philippines Here and Now
I come from a country where our educated leave their family and country to be domestic helpers, nannies or workers in other countries, doing a job that is beneath their educational attainment. It hurts. With over 80% of the population living below the poverty line, politicians have the gall to plunder the treasury as in the case of the Napoles pork barrel scam that funneled public funds in the amount of P10B (US$230M) into the personal pockets of our senators, congressmen and mayors - Enrile, Estrada and Revilla (2 of them former screen actors) to name the apex 3. Corruption is not only widespread but has permeated deep down into the moral fabric of society. Housing shortage has long reached alarming levels but with nothing done, people are left with resignation that nothing can be done. The economy is rigged to keep the people poor and the public educational system is designed to keep the people ignorant. Why? Because you keep a person poor and ignorant enough and you can get a vote by doing a song and dance number and throwing in P500 (US$12)come election time. They won't know the difference. They'll even think you're Robin Hood. With so much resources, the Philippines remain poor because of the inept and corrupt public officials who run the country.

Singapore Here and Now
Singapore on the other hand enjoys first rate transportation and telecommunication facilities with high speed internet as a norm. It has the 3rd highest GDP/capita on the planet. It's public housing provides a roof to 90% of its population, complete with recreational and sports amenities, food courts, shophouses, making it a self-contained satellite city - there are no squatters in Singapore and there is no corruption in Singapore. Nobody would throw their litter on the street and no one will ever counter flow. Discipline and mindfulness is ingrained in them that they are part of the nation-building process.

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

Philippines and Singapore Back in the Day
What I find uncanny about these two countries is that at one point in time, not very long ago, Philippines and Singapore were on the same level - social unrest, decaying infrastructure, widespread corruption, high unemployment and sluggish economic growth. The great disparity between these 2 countries only underscore what a strong, dedicated and HONEST leadership can do to move a country forward. In the 30 days I stayed in Singapore, I witnessed and experienced first hand the prosperity and success of Singapore. I cannot help but speculate that with able leadership, the Philippines could have been this. Lee Kuan Yew proved that it is humanly possible to achieve this in one generation.

Lee Kuan Yew Quotes About the Philippines

A Tribute
With his passing, I write this article to honor him...a look at the man...this rarest of the rare...who dedicated his life in the service of country. I have said this many times, I will say it again, Singapore is lucky to have such a man.

Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew are synonymous - it's hard to mention one without reference to the other. It's almost like they had an umbilical cord that bound them together for 5 decades. Lee Kuan Yew is modern Singapore's founding father and the longest reigning prime minister from 1959 to 1990. He continued his public service long after he stepped down as prime minister. With his strong and forward-thinking leadership, he steered Singapore from an underdeveloped colonial outpost suffering from high unemployment rate, severe housing shortage problem, decaying infrastructure, social unrest and widespread corruption - into an ultra modern city state with the highest Asian GDP, its public housing program emulated by several countries, moral work ethics defined by giving your task an honest day's work, crime rate so low for any urban metropolis, first rate transportation system and an interactive citizenry mindful they are part of the nation-building process.

   I'm no longer in active politics. It's irrelevant to me what younger Singaporeans think of me. What they think of me after I'm dead and gone in one generation will be determined by researchers who do PhDs on me. I did what I thought was right, given the circumstances, given my knowledge at the time, given the pressures on me at the time. That's finished, done. I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There's nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.

-- Lee Kuan Yew

Destined for Greater Things
Even as a young student, Lee exhibited his capacity for greater things. He was always at the top of his class. One of his teachers prophesied that Lee will "do well, unusually well" and attain "a high place in life". When he sat for the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1939, he emerged as the top student for the whole of Malaya. He finished law at Cambridge University with academic distinction. He would soon blaze the trail in moulding a city port into an unprecedented first world city state.

At age 19, when the Japanese occupied Singapore during WWII, Lee's political awakening was sparked. He realized that Singapore should rid itself of foreign colonizers - both the British and the Japanese. Independence became his resolve and pushing Singapore forward to self-rule and self-sufficiency became his mandate. He had that opportunity in the 3 decades he governed as prime minister.

Tough Guy of Asia
Lee's political resolve and strength of conviction saw Singapore through trying times. His resolve was tested during the face-down episodes against the Communists in the late 1950s, his withdrawal from the Federation of Malaysia and upholding the rule of law in the face of mounting US pressure in the caning of American Michael Fay for vandalism.

Not only is Lee tough but brilliant as well. With no natural resources but having deep and protected waters to attract foreign merchant ships, Lee made Singapore a free port. This move has resulted in Singapore's port to be connected to 600 ports in 126 countries covering 6 continents, ranking Singapore the 2nd busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage. Lee through the help of his lawyer wife, settled Singapore's water dependency to Malaysia by legislating the water deal to be integrated into Malaysia's constitution. This move guarantees Singapore's water supply as overseen by the United Nation's Security Council. According to one Malaysian I talked to, Malaysia is duty-bound to sell cheap water to Singapore, which Singapore filters and bottles and sells back to Malaysia at a handsome profit.

Ending Thoughts
I could go on and on why Lee Kuan Yew is Fab People. His legacy permeates through Singapore's very foundation. The empirical numbers stand tall of Singapore's achievements and the ubiquitous public housing draping the landscape of Singapore manifests the milestones of what used to be squatters and squalid shophouses. Multitude of Singaporeans waited in line for hours upon hours getting a last glimpse of this father figure, summarizing in a snapshot the reverence, gratitude and loss of a nation to one who has given all for the greater good of Singapore.

You have done so much in your lifetime, Mr. Prime Minister. Not just Singapore, but the whole world feels its loss with your passing. Rest in Peace.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Tony AnchetaTony Philippines
Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe
(Mar 29, 2015) idol!!

Ricky Soler JrRicky Soler Jr
(Mar 29, 2015) No. You are wrong. I have to disagree. The Philippines was not at the same level, we were in fact, way ahead and advance in so many ways than Singapore. We missed the boat so many times and Singapore got it right the first time.

"The Philippines was not at the same level, we were in fact, way ahead and advance in so many ways than Singapore" -- Ricky Andaya Soler
(Mar 29, 2015) I was being conservative, Ricky. You are absolutely right. According to 'benign0', Singapore was "...shunned by the Malay Federation, menaced by Indonesia, and abandoned by the British Empire, Lee Kuan Yew took leadership of a state that had very reasonable excuses to curl up on the floor and fail. It had none of the essential natural resources needed to industrialize, was wracked by internal ethnic strife, and lacked an identity beyond its former status as a Malay Federation state". Even Lee Kuan Yew, in his own words said, "In the 1950s and 1960s, it (Philippines) was the most developed, because America had been generous in rehabilitating the country after the war". Indeed we missed the boat too many times.

Ricky Soler JrRicky Soler Jr
(Mar 29, 2015) Sayang talaga. I want to cry just thinking about it. If you take a look at the ordinary middle class Singaporean and compare them with the ordinary middle class Filipino malayo tayo in terms of intellect and social aspects, not to demean them in anyway but in fact I look up, respect and even envy them. Pero tayo we are too smart for our own good... sadly it did not do us any good.

Viveca HutchinsonViveca Philippines
Boracay SandCastles
(Mar 30, 2015) Wish we had someone like Lee Kuan Yew! What a shame that Marcos used his brains to corrupt everyone from the grassroots level up to the highest government position.

"Marcos used his brains to corrupt everyone from the grassroots level up to the highest government position" -- Viveca Hutchinson
(Mar 30, 2015) Exactly my thoughts. Marcos could have been the one guy to see the Philippines through. Like Lee Kuan Yew, he was brilliant, he was a strong man who had political will to get things done, he was charming and could command the loyalty of people around him, etc. But at the end of the day, Marcos turned out to be nothing more than a common thief who robbed his country blind. Worse, he set the precedent to institutionalize corruption in the country.

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Google Map Singapore

tourist attractions in Singapore tourist attractions
  • Little India Little India - Little India is the main tourism hub in Singapore. Friday and Saturday nights become animated with the night market
  • Chinatown Chinatown -colorful and animated with Chinese ware shopping, sumptuous street food and hawker-style eats, try Ah Balling Peanut Soup
  • Orchard Road Orchard Road - upscale shopping and glitzy night life
  • Arab Street Arab Street - backpacker dorms, shisha smoking with Middle Eastern atmosphere
  • Singapore Zoo Singapore Zoo - experience the night zoo, S$38
  • Fountain of Wealth Fountain of Wealth - at Suntec City, largest fountain in the world (Guinness Book of Records in 1998), shop-til-you-drop
  • The Southern Ridges The Southern Ridges - best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat
  • Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore
  • Marina Bay Sands Marina Bay Sands - Singapore's most iconic building and most expensive at US$5.5B. Imagine a surf board on top of three skyscrapers
hotels in Singapore hotel


Singapore Tips
  1. always ascertain the price of a dish before making an order - the price of a dish and the humble appearance of a small eating place could vary significantly
  2. be familiar with the MRT (train) as it is the most efficient mode of transport - no traffic. Save this image
  3. negotiating for a 10% discount is acceptable in reputable places, but in places like Lucky Plaza or Sim Lim Tower, you can bargain as low as you want
  4. tipping is not part of the can skip this part and save yourself some cash
  5. most establishments (including taxis) accept credit cards, so no need to carry an insane amount of cash with you
  6. keep your receipts as you may be able to get a refund of the 7% GST before your departure
  7. MRT shuts down at 11pm. You may end up taking a cab at night which is expensive to begin with, but at night, there is even a 50% surcharge. And you pay an even higher rate if you take a Mercedes Benz cab
  8. carry coins in case you need to use a public toilet
  9. if you are stationary on the escalator, stay on the left side. The right side is for people who walk up or down
Things to do, Places to go in Singapore
  1. Little India - along Serangoon Road, try fish head soup, lively painted shophouses, saris, gold bangles, spices and incense
  2. Chinatown - colorful and animated with Chinese ware shopping, sumptuous street food and hawker-style eats, try Ah Balling Peanut Soup
  3. Orchard Road - upscale shopping and glitzy night life
  4. Arab Street - backpacker dorms, shisha smoking with Middle Eastern atmosphere
  5. Singapore Zoo - experience the night zoo, S$38
  6. Fountain of Wealth - at Suntec City, largest fountain in the world (Guinness Book of Records in 1998), shop-til-you-drop,
  7. The Southern Ridges - best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat (
  8. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore
  9. Marina Bay Sands - Singapore's most iconic building and most expensive at US$5.5B. Imagine a surf board on top of three skyscrappers
Singapore Etiquette (do's and dont's)
  1. remove shoes when entering someone's home or entering a mosque or temple
  2. to be on the safe side, address people as Mr. or Ms. and the surname. Don't adddress them by the first name, unless expressly permitted to
  3. when dealing with Malays, who are generally Muslim, do not offer alcohol and offer a gift when departing - not upon arrival
  4. when dealing with Chinese people, initially refuse a gift before finally accepting it. It shows you are not greedy
  5. do not immediately open a gift in front of the giver. Do not wrap a gift in white - white is for mourning
  6. when dealing with a Muslim, use your right hand to shake hands, to offer anything, to eat
  7. refrain from talking politics or religion. Singapore is multi-cultural and there's a thin line when you cross that divide
  8. do not touch the top of someone's head. The head is considered sacred
  9. don't show the bottom of your foot as it is considered dirty
  10. don't point with your index finger as it is deemed rude (use your thumb to point)
  11. if you see a packet of tissue paper on a table in a hawker-style eatery specially during peak hours, it means it's reserved - look for another table. Sometimes they use an umbrella
  12. if you're a backpacker and look the part, try to dress up more appropriately. Your beach wear and dreadlocks may be out of place in this cosmopolitan city
  13. don't litter, don't chew gum, don't vandalize, don't write grafitti, don't smoke in public where prohibited, don't do drugs as you can be fined by plain clothes policemen or caught on CCTV cameras which are all over the city. Even a direct plea by the president of the United States may not help you! (Michael Fay incident)
Singapore Freebies
  1. Baba House - restored house of a wealthy 1920s Singaporean family. Free tour by appointment - Mondays 2pm, Tuesdays 6:30pm, Thursdays 10am and Saturdays 11am. (
  2. Southern Ridges - free use of the best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat (
  3. Haw Par Villa - a theme park of Chinese mythological creatures created by the guys who brought you Tiger Balm! 262 Pasir Panjang Rd, +65 6872 2780, Hours: 9am-7pm, Ten Courts of Hell exhibit 9am-6pm
  4. Casinos - if you are a non-Singapore passport holder (read: a foreigner), you get to enter the 2 casinos free - Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Inside, you also can get free water, tea or coffee
Recent History of Singapore

Singapore is a small city-state 707.1 km2 and one of the youngest countries in the world with no natural resources. After WWII, it suffered from decaying infrastructure, social unrest and sluggish economic growth. Now, barely 60 years later, it ranks #3 in global GDP per capita, outranked only by Qatar and Luxemburg (2013 data from International Monetary Fund and the World Bank). For the last 16 years, it is voted the most liveable city in the world by ECA International. What exactly took place to make this a reality? Below is a recent a nutshell:

  • 1818 - British Governor General of India appointed Lieutenant General Sir Stamford Raffles to establish a port of call for the British East India Company on the tip of the Malay peninsula to provide logistical support to their merchant fleet in their expanding trade between India and China. Singapore became the logical choice
  • 1832 - Singapore became the center of government of the Straights Settlements, which included 2 earlier acquisitions, Penang and Malacca, after becoming an important commercial and military center of British India
  • 1942-45 WWII - the Japanese occupied Singapore after the British capitulated
  • 1945 - Japan was defeated and the British regained control of Singapore. There was economic unrest, slow economic growth, high unemployment rate, labor strikes and decaying infrastructure. Singaporeans faced a housing shortage which would continue for a decade. This became breeding ground to a nationalistic awareness of the people, specially after realizing the British were not that invincible after their capitulation in WWII
  • 1959 still within the British Empire, Singapore became autonomous with Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister.
  • 1963 - Singapore unilaterally declared independence from Britain and joined the Federation of Malaysia along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak
  • 1964 - with simmering racial tension between the Chinese and the Malays, 2 race riots erupted in July and September killing 36 and injuring over 500. This was a wake-up call for Singapore to address racial issues. No one wanted a repeat of this. The peaceful co-existence of the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians of Singapore today stems from the hard lessons learned from this painful episode.
  • 1965 - Singapore left the federation after ideological conflict with member states. It gained full independence from the British with Lee Kuan Yew remaining Prime Minister
  • 1967 - Singapore becomes founding member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)
  • 1968 - Britain pulls out of Singapore resulting in a 20% job-loss. This is aggravated by losing Malaya's economic support due to Singapore's departure from the federation. Economic prospect was bleak for Singapore. It was a trying episode in the country's history. With Lee Kuan Yew's strong leadership, Singapre took advantage of its strategic location and attracted foreign inverstors
  • 1960s - this decade saw the aggressive construction of public housing to address the long-standing housing crisis. High-rise low-cost housing complexes were built. Today (2015), up to 90% of Singaporeans live in these developments. New complexes are continuously being constructed in anticipation of population increase.
  • 1970s - USA and Japan made sizeable positions in Singapore's economy as the manufacturing sector continued its ascent with foreign-owned or joint-venture companies. Singapore's economic boom contunued unabated during the rest of the 1970s
  • 1980s - Singapore shifted its focus from labor-intensive manufacturing to high-tech high-value industries, becoming the leading producer of disk drives and parts, accounting up to 30% of its GDP from manufacturing. In the late 80s, it pushed its financial services sector as well to become top 3 as Asia's most important financial centers, together with Japan and Hong Kong. This shows how nimble Singapore is in adapting to emergent trends and technologies to keep its global competitive edge
  • 1990s - Singapore is now home to more than 650 multinational companies and a few thousand financial institutions. Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee Kuan Yew
  • 1994 - Michael Peter Fay, an 18 year old American is caned for theft and vandalism. His sentence was reduced to 4 instead of 6 as a way to give face to American president, Bill Clinton, who asked for leniency. Proceeding with the caning despite a personal plea by a US president sent a strong statement to the international community that Singapore is not one to buckle down under American pressure. It gained Singapore global respect for its political resolve.
  • 2003 - Singapore is hit with the SARS virus outbreak as it spreads across Asia and parts of North America and Europe
  • 2004 - Lee Hsien Loong became Singapore's third prime minister. He is Lee Kuan Yew's eldest son
  • 2008 - recession hits Singapore as the US-caused sub-prime market meltdown ripples through the global financial landscape resulting in bank failures worldwide
  • 2010 - Marina Bay Sands opens to the public as the 2nd most expensive building in the world at US$5.5 billion (land included). Its stunning and unique architecture gives Singapore a globally identifiable iconic signature landmark similar to the Eiffel Tower of Paris, the Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia and the Empire State building of New York
  • 2013 - Singapore suffers its worst haze, reaching 401 PSI due to uncontrolled forest fire in Indonesia
  • 2015 - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong imposes tougher measures against corruption after a number of high-profile graft scandals rocks the political landscape
  • Mar 2015 - former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passes on, ending an era of transition from third world to first world
Cost Index

US$1 = S$1.38 (Singapore dollar) = Php 44.10, as of Mar 7, 2015

Discounted Tour Prices (provided by Ideal Backpackers, tel 6846 4741)

As a general rule, you get tickets cheaper if you buy them outside the venue. Purchase the tickets through your hotel or travel agencies. Chinatown has numerous travel/tour agencies where you can buy tickets cheaper.

  • S$ 72 Universal Studios Singapore
  • S$ 30 Singapore Flyer (big ferries wheel)
  • S$ 33 Night Safari
  • S$ 25 Singapore Zoo
  • S$ 23 Jurong Bird Park
  • S$ 15 Tiger Sky Tower
  • S$ 30 Duck Tour
  • S$ 35 SEA Aquarium
  • S$ 26 Underwater World Singapore / Dolphin Lagoon
  • S$ 35 Adventure Cove
  • S$ 25 Jewel Cable Car, 2-ways
  • S$ 31 Hippo City Sightseeing Tour
  • S$ 18 Singapore River Explorer
  • S$ 25 River Safari
  • S$ 8 Merlion Cove
  • S$ 5 National Orchard Garden

Singapore Cost Index at backpacker places

  • S$ 1.50 1.5 liter drinking water
  • S$ 3-4.00 noodle soup with meat or rice meal at food courts in housing developments, otherwise S$ 5 in regular eating places
  • S$ 1 tea
  • S$ 22 dorm bed
  • S$ 1.5 sugar cane juice
  • S$ 3.20 flagdown, 22 cents/400m taxi, surcharge of 50% at night, additional surcharge if M Benz taxi
  • S$ 5 per 11kg load coin operated laundry
  • S$ 1 per 5 mins coin operated laundry dryer
  • S$ 1-2 internet cafe, usually it's $1.80 with no membership
  • S$ 2/k banana
  • S$ 35/session yoga, non-member drop-in
  • S$ 3.50 nasi goreng
  • S$ 22 40-min river cruise on Marina Bay
  • S$ xxxxx ticket
  • S$ one hour massage
  • S$ one mug draft beer
  • S$ bicycle rental

Price Busters

The best deals are usually in the big national groceries/supermarkets like Giant, Seng Song and Fair Price . They always have promos that are price busters!

  • S$ 2.70 2 veggies + 1 meat viand + rice at Rice Garden (in food courts within a housing development)
  • S$ 1.20 three 1.5 liters of Alpha Water at Fair Price grocery with promo
  • S$ 2.00 Roti Prata + tea, at regular Malay eating places, best value breakfast meal

Singapore Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Mini-Life in Singapore August 8-22, 2016
  2. Peoplescape of Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
  3. Discovering the Neighborhood Cafes of Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
  4. Biological Cell Regulation (BCR) Therapy at Chang Wellness Aug 16, 2016
  5. Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone Aug. 9, 2016
  6. A Roof Over my Head in Singapore Aug 8-22, 2016
  7. 2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority August 8, 2016
  8. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Mar 23, 2015
  9. Life Hacking in Singapore Mar 22, 2015
  10. Exploring More of Singapore Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
  11. Power Yoga Class at Yoga Inc., Singapore Mar 21, 2015
  12. Touring Marina Bay Sands Mar 17, 2015
  13. The Singapore Magic Mar 16, 2015
  14. Singapore Yoga at Yoga Inc. Mar 8, 2015
  15. Singapore on a Shoe String Feb 20, 2015
  16. Sex in Singapore? Oct 20, 2013
  17. Singapore Girl July 21, 2013
  18. Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos Jan 26, 2003

Here are international links about Ferdinand Marcos

(which the revisionist Marcos media machinery cannot influence or bribe)
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