Author: Kuan Yew Lee Pages: Publication Date Release Date: ISBN: Product Group:Book Download PDF The Singapore. Two e-books about the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew are now available free for download on The Straits Times Star E-books app.. Read more at. SINGAPORE - The passing of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew. History of the Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first Unesco site. Tips on.
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"The Singapore Story is the first volume of the memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, the man who planted this island state firmly on the map of the world." "In intimate detail. The Singapore Story is the first volume of the memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, the man who planted the island state of Singapore firmly on the map of the world. Editorial Reviews. From the Publisher. This book is being positively reviewed by Asiaweek Magazine, Newsweek, and National Interest Magazine. From the.
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See ST's interactive special on the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs. Skip to main content. I was mildly annoyed when I was reported as Harry Lee — politically it was a minus. I did not name myself. I have not given any of my children a western name, nor have they in turn given their children western names.
This well-calculated move endeared him to the Chinese educated who would later give him the political clout he badly needed. So they have Chinese as their first language, then English, then Malay Han, Therefore I could say, that I was convinced that Chinese schools were good for them because they were able to master English at home.
However for their university edu- cation, I said I would not send them to a Chinese-language university. Their future depended upon a command of the language of the latest textbooks which would be in English. Lee recognized the use of Mandarin and Hokien as the key to the hearts of the electorate — the fluency of both were beyond his reach: They spoke with a passion that filled their listeners with emotion and exhilaration at the prospect of Chinese great- ness held out to them … I knew that even if I mastered it, it would not be enough.
His mother tongue, Baba Malay, was the lingua franca in the domain of domestic transactions Chia, The Chi- nese educated looked down on its hybrid nature and sensitive to languages, Lee dismissed it as unsuitable and inadequate for political life: However it was a pidgin … it was limited, it was difficult to move crowds with it.
There could be no flight of rhetoric. I suffered embarrassment when a newspaper reported that Lam Tian, my Chinese educated rival in the Democratic party said I could not read or write the language and therefore not capable of representing the Chinese voter … I blithely claimed I could read, write and speak Mandarin, Hakka and Hokien and also spoke Malay — as I was advised by Chinese reporters that it was best not to admit lack of my command of mother tongue.
Actually my spoken Hokien and Hakka were pathetic. I dodged it and counter-attacked by saying I have to get things done in the Legislative Assembly and there a candidate needs to have good English. But I made a supreme effort to say a few words in Mandarin in my biggest rally in Banda Street, another Cantonese area.
A friendly Sin Pao reporter called Jek Yuen thong drafted two paragraphs for me, and then spent several hours coaching me to read a speech that took only three minutes to deliver. But the crowd was with me, and they cheered me for the effort. Schooled in the Chinese classics and the Shui Hu Chua Water Margin rather than Shakespeare, Lim and his other Chinese-educated colleagues built a mass base for what would have otherwise been a caucus of English-educated elite.
In the elections, Lim managed to captivate the masses of Chinese-educated, dialect-speaking farmers, factory workers and hawkers who had turned up in huge numbers to support the Union and the elections.
I was one of those roped in almost at the last minute, perhaps because I was Chinese educated but not a communist. I had been told that I had a role to play in the party because I was bilingual … we were particularly short of people who could speak effectively in Hokien.
Throughout this period, Lee used socialist, anti-colonial language to ensure his political-linguistic identity to Lim. He had been after all, the solicitor for most, if not all, the Chinese-educated detained party leaders and cadres even if he could only have communicated with them through an interpreter Harper, He protested whenever the British Special Branch detained the pro-Communists in his party such as the popular Lim, but evidently relied upon such deten- tions to remove his more charismatic Chinese-educated opponents and enable him to retain control.
Evidently, Lee played a skillful linguistic hand as an anti- colonial for the Chinese-educated masses and as trusted ally of the British. Nor surprisingly, in the elections with the implementation of compul- sory voting, the PAP reaped the full force of the Chinese-educated and lower- income groups and won a landslide victory, winning 43 of the 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Hence, with Lim imprisoned by the British, Lee was assured of not being over- shadowed by a charismatic Hokien-Mandarin speaker; but yet be able to ride on the wave of his popularity.
While Lee maintained scrupulously the facade of unity with the leftist aspi- rations of his Chinese-educated colleagues, he always knew that one day he would have to break the alliance when it suited him Harper, Hokien is not like Mandarin; it has seven ones instead of four, and uses different word combinations of verbs, nouns and adjectives.
He wrote: I could not afford to be shy or embarrassed. It was a matter of life or death. It was not just a question of fighting Ong. I was preparing for the inevitable showdown with Lim Chin Siong and the communists.
He would mumble to himself words and phrases in Hokien while travelling in a car. Every spare moment he had were spent revising Chinese to the get the sounds right, mem- orizing new words to get them embedded in his mind so that he could roll them off his tongue without looking at them.
However, although he was able to make his policies understood in Hokien, he was never able to speak use the language impassionately Leong, Lee attributes his political success through his linguistic efforts: Very early in his career, Lee had predicted that English and Mandarin would be the two foremost world languages and that their acqui- sition and placement as the first and second language of Singapore would enable Singaporeans an economic advantage in both the East and the West cf.
Lee, , This was far from his vision of a first world state. Lee had to ensure that he remained in power long enough for this shift to take place.
Step 1: The Creation of four official languages In , it was not yet possible for Lee to implement his English-Mandarin mother-tongue policy as he had only just gained power and his political posi- tion was tenuous. First things first, he had to reduce the 33 odd languages to just four official ones.
In , the government of Sri Lanka adopted the controversial anti-English law, the official Sinhala Only Bill, a decision which ultimately led to civil strife and over time contributed to the outbreak of civil war in De Silva, As Lee later explained in his biography: To take one example, in , the Chinese having migrated from different regions of China spoke the following, mostly unintelligible, languages such as Haina- nese, Hakka, Cantonese and Khek and therefore had to use Hokien as their lingua franca Chew, A similar situation prevailed among the Singa- pore Indian community who spoke a diversity of languages such as Gujarati, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil and Urdu.
Trocki, However, Malay had been the traditional lingua franca of the region and had to be placed somewhere that was no less honorable. The potential wrath of the Malay pop- ulation was something not to be provoked especially as many had kinship ties to the nearby hinterland of Malaysia and Indonesia. The national anthem is in Malay and continues to be sung each morning in Singapore schools although few children can understand the meaning of the words.
The state crest, army commands and its currency notes were made to carry symbolic Malay inscription. Himself a native speaker of Baba Malay, a close relative to Malay, he was able to win their support with this practical compromise Chew, Step 3: The Creation of the English-knowing Bilingual In , an opportunity enabled the PAP to detract from their initial policy of multilingualism. Their resignation left the PAP as the only major political party, a window of opportunity which enabled Lee to institute economically motivated reforms at an even greater speed.
Further, in the general elections of , , and , the PAP won all of the seats in an expanding parliament. As an effectively one-party government, the stage was now set for more dra- conian linguistic measures as a means to economic development.
With no opposition in Parliament, Lee was now able to enunciate his support of English as first language fearlessly: Not only will it blindfold the next generation to the knowledge of the advanced nation, it will cause a brain drain. But so many new countries have stifled the foreign language they have inherited. Sometimes this is done, not so much to elevate the status of the indigenous language, but to take away an advantage a minority ethnic group has by having greater compe- tence in the former colonial language.
This has been damaging. It blindfolds the next generation to the knowledge of the advanced countries. Worse, it leads to an exodus of the professionally trained. They can emigrate to the advanced countries, and do because they do not intend to allow their children to be crippled by language blink- ers. To get access to new knowledge, the best course would be to continue using the language of the former metropolitan power, particularly where this happens to be English.
Step 4. Each of the two languages carried twice as much weight as Mathematics or Science. Second language papers also became available at pre-university and tertiary levels Gopinathan, Minimum language requirements form a basis of admission to tertiary edu- cation. Children were streamed according to their linguistic abilities and higher education access made dependent on scores attained in the first and second language.
The implementation of the campaign was marked by wide-ranging activities, e. Mandarin was propelled to replace Chinese languages such as Teochew, Hakka, and Cantonese, Hokien which were publicly labeled publicly as dia- lects, although such a classification is disputable by linguistics standards.
However, what was not stressed, both in government rhetoric and academic writing, was the suitability of Mandarin as a culture-bearer. In reality, Man- darin was a Beijing dialect from the north. Cul- tures, values and customs, especially those surrounding rites of passage, are passed on through the use of dialects, not Mandarin. Customs and traditions, even in basic practices such as the way of cooking, differ from one dialect group to another.
A one-party gov- ernment had effectively created a scenario whereby Chinese Singaporeans are moving towards a less complex language situation where English has become dominant in formal communication, Mandarin in informal communication and Chinese dialects, once the dominant mother tongues of its citizens almost non-existent.
They were also now possessors of the two foremost global lan- guages in the world. Conclusion We have recounted how language has been used to intervene effectively in both the political and economic life in Singapore. While natural resources, a sustainable infrastructure, economic opportunities, peaceful neighbors, authoritarian government, and luck are all important ingredients in the jour- ney from third world to first, the most foundational must surely be leadership for without it, all these elements would not fall into place.
For many of us, the loss of a mother tongue is too much to bear for these tongues are very precious since it often sur- rounds us from cradle to death and its loss may be likened to a loss of life. Yet there is a mystical quality in the spirit of sacrifice, which is indispensable to achievement. For Lee, his mother tongue, Baba Malay was also led to the sac- rificial altar as it had no chance in his vision of ever being of pragmatic value despite its centuries-old status as the lingua franca of Southeast Asia.
Hence, abandoned by its foremost son, Baba Malay and the distinctive Baba culture is currently in imminent danger of extinction. Tan, ; Chew, Lee broke tradition by sending his three children to Chinese-medium schools to learn Mandarin as a first language, a language in which they them- selves were to excel, and a language which he and his wife did not speak at home.
It was a wise move to signal his sincerity and belief in the linguistic prowess of China; as well as an expedient stratagem to win political votes from the Chinese-educated.
No one could accuse him of insincerity since he and his family had also to learn to speak a linguistically unrelated language Mandarin vs. Malay and Hokien as mother tongues to replace the ones that no longer mattered. Lee himself spent much of his waking hours learning Man- darin and in his lifetime, had gone through the painful process of learning six languages.
For Lee, language is basically a tool, a process and not an end prod- uct — its life and death may be liken to the emergence and decline of flora. Some tools are useful while others have become antiquated — just as species may regularly appear through speciation and disappear through extinction cf Chew, Critical linguists have questioned whether the global trend for English to be introduced in all schools and at earlier grades at the cost of local language such as that undertaken in Singapore from the s are tenable longer term cf.
Mahboob, ; Mahboob and Paltridge, Pennycook has also questioned the belief that English is linked to national and economic development as studies show that students educated through such reforms have shown no marked difference from students who are educated in their local languages.
However, I think that truth is what pro- duces the results of social justice before the tribunal of life. While a debate of words and human rights carries on in intellectual circles, there is no denying that Singapore has been an economic powerhouse not least because of its enviable possession of the two foremost global languages of the twenty-first century. Whether the journey from third world to first has been worth the undertaking can only be individually answered by those who have enjoyed both its fruits and the pain of mother tongue abandonment.
Notes 1. Retrieved from http: Li, Dickson Singapore is most open economy: The Global Competitiveness Index — rankings and — comparisons. World Economic Forum, Singapore top business paradise for business: World Bank. Asiaone, 26 September According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries. Retrieved from: Lee Kuan Yew passed away in Ong, etc.
The planning of Nanyang University established in was begun and financially supported by the Chinese-educated. Tan , a Baba who speaks no Chinese, reminisced how his year old was streamed into a vocational institute and classified as educationally subnormal as his Mandarin was abysmal.
Her Research interests are Language, sociolinguistics, comparative religion, and world Englishes.
References Alsagoff, L. Hybridity in the ways of speaking. The glocalizaton of English in Sin- gapore.