How time (and money) changes views

In the mid-1990s when the Singapore economy was going great guns, the PAP was so full of itself that it felt compelled to rubbish the US democratic system:

“The idea of individual supremacy and the right to free expression, when carried to excess, have not worked. They have made it difficult to keep America society cohesive. Asia can see it is not working. Those who work a wholesome society where young girls and old ladies can walk the streets at night, where the young are not preyed upon by drug peddlars, will not follow the American model.”
Lee Kuan Yew, New Perspectives Quarterly, 1995

“…in America itself, after 30 years of experimenting with the Great Society programmes, there is widespread crime and violence, children kill each other with guns, neighbourhoods are insecure, old people feel forgotten, families are falling apart. And the media attacks the integrity and character of your leaders with impunity, drags down all those in authority and blames everyone but itself.”
Lee Kuan Yew in The Man And His Ideas, Sept 1995

Then came the 1997 Asian crisis and Singapore was in economic shock, desperately needing those little green bills to come back to the region. Boy, how that changed the rhetoric…

“The reason why the US got into the predominant position (in the world economy) is because it was prepared to allow a whole host of citizens to try, experiment, to do it yourself.”
SM Lee Kuan Yew, Asian Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2001.

“The US has a very active citizenry, always ready to organise themselves and solve their own problems, without waiting for the government… Singaporeans who have worked and studied in the US pick up some of these values and norms…Singaporeans are less active in organising ourselves than Americans.”
DPM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at Harvard Club, Straits Times, Jan 7, 2004

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