Tuesday, 24 March 2015

the end justifies the means

I've been listening to the many tributes to former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew since he died yesterday. How he transformed Singapore from a third world country into one of the wealthiest in the world. How he developed an education system that is the envy of the world. Fair enough, but in order to achieve these goals, he jailed those who disagreed with him without trial, clamped down sharply on the media and had those guilty of minor offences flogged. And this supposedly advanced country retains the ultimate symbol of an uncivilized polity, the death penalty. Never mind, the apologists are saying in effect, the end justifies the means. Communist apologists for the excesses of Stalin in the 1930s used the same excuse. The obvious question being avoided here, given the strategic location of Singapore on the world’s network of trade routes, is whether the country would have been equally successful without such hardline leadership. I think it would.

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