16 September, 2021

Blog

What Would Lee Kuan Yew Do?

By Niranjan Rambukwella

“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine.”

This was Lee Kuan Yew breaking up a Singapore Airlines strike in 1980. His tactics were unconventional. But they were effective. He threatened to shut the airline down and in 65 minutes the pilots relented.

Ranil Wickremesinghe needs to show that he has that iron in him. What does that look like? Let’s start with SriLankan Airlines. First, convict. Thanks to the Weliamuna Report we know the corrupt officials. But enough with inquiries. Start criminal proceedings. If criminal proceedings aren’t possible, start civil ones. If the police and AGs department are too busy, hire ex-policemen, private investigators and lawyers. If there aren’t enough in Sri Lanka, bring them down. If the police can’t secure evidence, offer plea bargains and rewards to find it, If the courts are taking too long set-up trials-at-bar. No excuses, just get the job done.

Second, deliver. Solve the problem. Sell the airline or fix it. If neither are possible, close it. People don’t really give a damn as long as its done decisively. And in any case they won’t remember – unless the problem persists. Presidents, ministers and board members pointing fingers at each other needs to end. No more left hand thwarting what the right does. Collective responsibility needs to prevail for policy. But a single individual must be responsible for operations. The buck must stop with one person. And that person must have authority to act. But remember, problems can’t be solved by cronies. Create a culture of performance. Find the best man for the job, and give her what she needs to take it and get it done. If that means bring in ministry secretaries from outside, then do it.

Third, communicate. Less lectures and more talking. Get on Rupavahini and speak to us. A few minutes a day is enough. Explain your decisions, tell us what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Speak with one voice. When the whole government speaks in union, the people listen. And they believe. If the whole government tells people they can have Sri Lankan Airlines or 5000 rupees in their bank account next year what do you think they will choose?

This is how Lee Kuan Yew governed Singapore. He started by convicting the corrupt in his own party. He brought the right people in. There were promoted if they delivered, punished if they failed. As long as it was within the law, he did whatever it took to get the job done. No orthodoxy or tradition stood in the way of results. This is well known. But what is often forgotten is that he communicated day and night. He vigorously defended his policy in simple idiom using the people’s own tongue – in the process learning Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien and Hakka.

Sri Lanka and Ranil share a common fate. We grab defeat from the jaws of victory. We do too little, too late. As a result, some say that Sri Lanka is at a crossroads and always will be. I can’t believe them. There are yet enough who have iron in them. And don’t forget that in 2002, and December 2014, Ranil too counted in that number. Even at this late hour, we can build on the solid legislative reforms and new political culture of the last three years. Ranil, bring back that iron. A few convictions, a competent cabinet bound by collective responsibility, a meritocratic culture of performance imposed from the top and ceaseless communication might just turn the tide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8
    9

    Well in Singapore no dissent is tolerated. Anyone criticising the govt is put in jail and not permitted to contest elections.lee Kwan yews political opponents have languished in jail for decades.
    Do we want thatsystem.?there are others like N Korea, SaudiArabia where no one is allowed to oppose the so called Royal family.

    • 4
      0

      Certainly Not! However I appreciate what Lee Kuwan Yeu said about our elections “Elections in Srilanka is an Auction to Distribute Non existing Resources” May I also add…… ‘ or to pocket what ever meager resources left behind after each election’

    • 4
      1

      LKY would have put all the corrupt crooks behind bars. BOTH Bondscam Ranil Wickramasinghe and Mahinda Jarapassa would be in the same Prison Cell for looting the people and the wealth of a nation.
      LKY had brains and guts and loved his country. Lanka does not have a single politician who measures up. They are all corrupt

  • 10
    1

    We need a strong leader ..we expect that leadership from CBK and MR but both did not do it..
    CBK could not do it due to war …
    But MR did not do it due to his cohort around him ..
    Now M&S and Ranil are caught up in ugly politics..
    Central bank issue is classics example of Ranil ‘s weakness..
    Free judiciary from political interference and then you will see the good politics come .
    Now all are thieves.
    Police and judge can not do their jobs ..
    They fear for their life and jobs ..
    What can expect now..
    Wait and see more corrupt people do dirty politics..
    Vicious circle to continue ..
    It’s Karuma of Sri Lanka..

  • 3
    7

    LEe Kawn would for not ever coming to it again. Ranil is a LEech. He says now, he di dnot check first. A WIFI kit is about Rs 20,000. Arjun Mahendran says he was told in Walisimghe Harischandra’s area that he is qualified to get a minister post and one Abesundara took him to show a Sebada too. Now, nothing.

    • 1
      0

      There is no connection between your sentences. What are you trying to say?

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 2
    2

    have you visted goddess Sidha paththini. What did she say ? Politics not going to work.

  • 7
    0

    RW to speak to us on a daily basis? You’re going to put him in more troubles as he is going to promise us new, new things daily.

    Above all, Sri Lankan leaders need true determination. and a vision to develop the country. Just my personal opinion is to keep qualified senior advisers from developed nations as much as possible, and reduce locals who are “yes, sir” types by tradition.

  • 11
    1

    This guy is dreaming. Ranil fixing things and prosecuting rogues, when he is the biggest rogue, hanging on to the leadership of UNP for 24 years in spite of losing 30 elections. He protected the bank robbers as well as the thieves. If he is dishonest and incapable, why should he continue.

  • 6
    1

    “Ranil, bring back that iron”
    Too late. People brought back that iron on him.
    Soma

  • 16
    0

    Lee Kwan Yu’s First Concern was the Welfare of His Country, Singapore! Political Party came second!

    In our Country, Individuals’ Wealth, and Political Party seems to be more Important than the Welfare of Sri Lanka and the rest of Her Citizens!

    • 3
      0

      Exactly!

  • 4
    1

    First thing Lee kuan Yew would have done is he would not have robbed his own central bank.

    sri lanka might become a singapore in our next births.Something to look forward to.However what is the guarantee that we will be placed in srilanka again and not in the faroe islands.It was heartening to see that premedasa was born again sometime ago with a lot of fanfare insrilanka.CT can you see what has happenned to that little boy who walked an talked like preme.Now that there is a leadership issue in the UNP………….

    • 0
      0

      Where? Where? was he born?

      • 1
        0

        hamlet
        Kottala,3 km from hanguranketa.Name sampath wijebahu.

    • 0
      1

      Shankar,
      Sound bites like “he robbed his own central bank ” are very popular. But can YOU prove that there were Billions stolen, and by whom? Come on, a school kid could do it. Please don’t quote Sirasa either.
      Oh, BTW, the Faroe islands belong to Norway, a very prosperous oil-rich country. I wouldn’t mind living there.

      • 0
        0

        old codger

        proof is in the pudding.16 billion rupees of profit that aloysious has made is to be given back to the people.he tried to put it in a distilleries i trincomalee but was thwarted.Where did that idiot get 16 billion from.Your grandfather?He was saddled with the money which was to go into the UNP coffers.before he could transfer it the bond scam news broke out and sirisena abruptly terminated mahendran which caught the best laid plans by the UNP bigwigs up in the air and unable to bring down to earth.

        BTW faroe islands is minus 10 degree C.Wish you all the best.

  • 1
    0

    None of the so called politician’s as of now in Sri Lankan political system elected or otherwise would not be able to be a even a chawalla to the great man L. K. Y. Come to think of it this applies to most politician’s around the world.
    Mention LKY in the same paragraph with RW., MS., or MR. even as a Flunkey’s should be Blasphemes and abhorrent.

  • 2
    1

    How many elections did Lee Kuan Yew lose? What would Lee Kuan Yew do to Characters like Ravi K. and few others? Make no mistake, what Lee Kuan Yew did was instrumental in getting Singapore to where it is, but he was extremely dictatorial. It has one of the worst freedom of press rankings in the world especially in the developed world. It is actually worse than SL (141 vs 151). Even to this day basic freedom of expression, right to association, right to assembly is severely restricted. Just back in 2015 a 17-year old student (“Amos Yee”) who criticized/insulted Lee Kuan Yewin got arrested. Colombo-Telegraph would get blacklisted in no time within Singapore. And don’t forget the “Caning”.

    • 4
      0

      Thanos

      You deserve the leaders you got in Sri Lanka. Most people will be willing to live under a benevolent dictator who put the countries future development and the peoples living standards safety education health first.
      Freedom of speech is overrated .
      What Singapore has achieved with curtailed freedom to blabber insults. High standard of living for its people, world class education, world class health system ( proof that’s where the Sri Lankan politicians run to for health care) world class financial system, technology and infrastructure, Transport, shipping hub, air port to mention few.
      Oh with all the freedom in Sri Lanka most admired achievements in Sri Lanka let me list top of the crop Corruption , drug trafficking , looting, murderers, rapes, supplying the middle east with domestic servants. ill stop now.

  • 3
    0

    ranil to bring back the iron
    when did he have it?
    his father did not want him to take to politics
    it was his mother that pressurised JR and relativity led him to place him over party seniors
    who resented his presence
    so JR is the one to blame for the unp’s current predicament

    • 1
      0

      May be RW should have bit of a chat to get some stiffness and I know just the man he should go to John Amarathunga aka Viagra John. But me think bit late now.

  • 6
    1

    Lee Kuan Yew did it: could do it since he was a brave, honest politician who had been fully dedicated to build up his country. But Ranil?
    Can you compare Ranil with Lee. No. It is an insult to Lee Kuan Yew.

    Until we find a capable and honest politician we have to select ” good Yaka” over ” bad yaka”

    • 2
      0

      sorry s.c.perera,
      You must be Joking to say that ‘Capable and Honest’ People take up Politics as a Profession!

  • 2
    5

    Ranil will be vigorous till 2020 and the whole country will vote for him for President. He is the last man standing. He is our last choice, give it up and then we go back into darkness back to square one.

  • 3
    0

    Mr. Rambukwella: I need and appreciate if you can answer my, one and the only question. Here it is: What would Mr. Lee Kuwan Yew have done, in the case of Mr. Arjuna Mahendran , one of his citizens was found by a Presidential Commission, involved and accused in the “Bond Robbery” in Sri Lanka? Thank you in advance for your response.

  • 13
    0

    Sri Lanka cannot produce a Lee Kuan Yew

    The best ‘sportsman’ we have produced is Arjun Ranatunga.

    The ‘wisest’ leader we have produced in Mahinda Rajapakse.

    The greatest ‘visionary’ we have produced is Ranil Wickramasinghe.

    The most honourable ‘warrior’ we have produced is Sarath Fonseka

    The best orator we have produced is Wimal Weerawansa ( his surname connotes- heroic caste !)

    The greatest academic we have produced is GL Peiris .

    With so much talent present in this small country, there is no room for mediocre chaps like Lee Kuan Yew !

    • 5
      0

      kolla, good one for a change. And the best political analyst is Dayan Jayatileka!!

  • 5
    0

    That is exactly the attitude that RW and MS should take, in order to cleanse the stables of all the oog. Problem is there are many in the ranks of power who are not only corrupt to their nether regions, but also know of the skeletons in the cupboards of these so called leaders which they will out if they are held to account.

    Oh, how sad for you mother Lanka….. you could not bear an honest son or daughter who would do you proud. You and all your great beauty are surely doomed.

    I can see the pakses rubbing their filthy hands with glee, planning with their vicious minds how they will entrench themselves forever to plunder our land and its people of all its wealth for generations to come.

    RW and MS, to say that you both squandered the chance of a lifetime given to you in 2015 is an understatement – you both should hang your heads in shame for ever.

  • 1
    0

    Kolla I truly love it, with few words you have given a clear perspective of Lankawe mentality. I was back in Lanka in 2010 after being away for 15 years with the intention of ” giving back”,But once again with a heavy heart I find my self packing my bags to return to the adopted land. Adios

  • 4
    0

    Lee Kuan Yew admired Ceylon a lot. He wanted a university as good as University of Ceylon. He set about it by appointing academics on merit. A zoo? The model was Dehiwela Zoo – at that time the best in Asia. Zoo management selected on merit.

    How he set about reforming Singapore is legendary but is just common sense. He had an advantage – the Ceylon urban/rural-divide was quite distinct. Singapore did not have this. Rural Ceylon was seethed in religion.
    Lee Kuan Yew the started learning from the Ceylonese mistakes. When some Chinese went to him and suggested Chinese be made the official language he just said “Look at Ceylon”. From then on he learned from the mistakes made in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He kept Singapore secular.
    Is SriLanka Airlines impasse possible in Singapore. No no no, there is this thing called accountability.
    We could learn from the mistakes made in Zimbabwe. Are we? Not at all – we are outdoing them in corruption, nepotism and the like.

    • 4
      0

      K Pillai
      If I remember right, Lee Kwan Yew invited Lyn de Alwis, Director of Wild Life, from Sri Lanka to reorganize the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
      Singapore has no Natural Resources or History to offer Tourists, but look where it is Now, compared with Sri Lanka!

  • 1
    0

    Please Google for , The Jaw dropping speech of Lee Kuan Yew of

    Teh Cheang Wan case ; No way a minister can avoid Investigation ,

    While reading the suicide letter left by the Minister..
    I always did what was right. Not what is politically right .LKY

  • 1
    0

    It is amusing to see some UNPers still hoping RW can become a Lee Kuan Yew after that miserable guy has shown several times what a loser he is

  • 1
    0

    Niranjan thinks that we need leaders with iron. Our leaders may have iron deficiency but they all have a steel implement. This is metal detectors of different colours. They look for loot. There is an understanding “Finders Keepers”.

  • 3
    0

    I doubt ,not UNPERS ,anyone with common sense will be expecting Ranil or even The Son of LKY to become a carbon copy of him ,Sajith is a good example he looks very close to His father ,talks like him ,but never can he become Ranesinghe …

    Anyone who has basic general knowledge would understand not even identical twins be the same in character and personality.

    Readers must understand not to take everything literally what they read .

    The actions of Great men and women of past are usually taken as matter of examples ,sometimes as inspiration.
    I am. no fan of Ranil nor of Mahinde nor anyone in particular or any party of today
    But that does not stop me with criticizing the short comings of anyone , if the same person has some good ,I must not miss to appreciate it ,Like Ghandi ji said never loose hope in humanity. And never go on and on about a man’s failure as a tool to condemn him, Remember failures are said to be the pillars of success, Abraham Lincoln lost eight times until he ended up as President of USA .Sirimavo was stripped of her civic rights ,in a wheel chair with her daughter by her side, she came back and they both won ,the mother the first women PM and daughter the first women President.
    As long as a Leader is not proven to have ribbed the nation , him losing not 30 ,even thirty thousand times is nothing to be ashamed of ,quitting is to ashamed of.
    Let the party members decide the fate of their Leader and let us the people decide his fate as the country’s leader .

    We the people must clean our heart of prejudice ,otherwise not LKY even a thousand Sir Johns won’t be able to put the country right. People also must march along .its a two way thing .

  • 3
    0

    We must also must remember LKY put things right and had the law endorsed right from .the inception of the nation’s Independence.

    So what about all those who were guilty of similar wrongs who today dead and gone ?
    Won’t it be gross injustice to punish the ones alive and around today of the similar crimes of the dead who got away after enjoying the loot and other crimes ,only because we never had executed the law then ,but under the same circumstances we want to punish the ones alive ? (if &when found guilty), you can’t do that ,that is not right and won’t work ,because you don’t have a real justice system ,first establish that ,for which, we must first get rid of the failed constitution , we must accept changes ,we must wish whatever we love to the rest of the fellow citizens too , finally LKY had the people behind him.
    Best to offer amnesty, close the cases ,pay compensation to the victims,establish law and order , and unity among people ,start a fresh .

    Or else just go on and one day our children may hold us responsible .

  • 2
    0

    A pretty good article. Thank you for pointing out very important strategies to adopt in building Sri Lanka similar to Singapore what it is now. One of the lessons that should be learned from LKW is that initially he brought in experts from all over the world to build the necessary policies and infrastructure of he country. As one reader earlier mentioned about the Sri Lankan Zoologist consulted to build the Singapore Zoo which is one of the currently best Zoos in the world. I’m not in no way saying we don’t have the necessary skills in the country. But now where the country is at, no local honest official can function and act independently without the any political influence. As writer says, the appointed leader who ever it may be should get the best people to get each and every job done with responsibility placed on him/her. Pay them well to get the job done. on the other hand, if they have misused their responsibility, punish them well. Give them the freedom to achieve the best standards. But while RW had this opportunity, looks like he put his political aspirations well before the good of the country. While me not being a strong supporter of any political party, I strongly believe RW has the strong theoretical knowledge on how the economics should work in getting Sri Lanka back on a strong financial footing. But the question is, does he have the political backing and the ability to make the strong decisions while he is depending so much on the MR clan? Then again the Central Bank bond scam…… who knows what’s running through his brain???

  • 2
    0

    I want to reiterate this one more time, Enough of this programing of our minds ,we need to break free , why do you want to boycott MTV just because you feel they have a personal grudge against Ranil ? Am not in agreement to this, We people of Sri Lanka ,all of us some how suffer from transient amnesia when it comes to politics and politicians and the politicians have it by default.
    You see there is a saying ,even to the devil ,give his dues ,be he evil as he may be , MTV have always been one Media many a time met death face to face and not stopped its mode of expressions , it has had attacks and billboards vandalised, etc , and I remember well even during the past regime ( which I must confess none of us were this heroic with our opinions except those living overseas at that time ) MTV did say what it had to say bravely ,,they contributed a lot towards the change of government. Through their Radio and TV and I take my hat off to them and to CT via its journal who gave the people strength ,space and support .. Cont

  • 2
    0

    And finally one more time , no matter who or which party you replace ,it is going to be the same old story if you don’t change the constitution.

    Once you change the anti people ,anti nation progressive junk of a constitution which has been shamelessly patch worked with amendments by all politicians for their gains ,we will never ever see that light at the end of the tunnel.

    We need a new constitution which gives the people the right to appoint executive bodies to monitor and correct government decisions & ,policies ,the right to appoint real institutions that can monitor ,the resources , environment, Tender procedures, foreign borrowings and grants and all fincial aids .
    And the members be 100% none aligned to any politician or parties. .

    If we can not get this done first and if we go on agitating for only the change of politicians and political parties ,it only reflects that we as a nation have permanently and willngly submitted to the indoctrination of badit politics and thus made ourselves and the future generation milking cows .

    I am still waitting to see if even a 000.0 1% among readers have t consieved what I am stressing ,this is not something I am saying today or yesterday, I been very consistent on this one opinion for a long time ,I won’t be surprised if CT finds it in their arcvives .

    You and I have a duty towards our future generation to make sure that such a constitution is introduced and throw out the present one ,once and for all , and not forget to abolish the
    Excutive Presidency ASAP ( Which is the worst illness of the constitution)

    Let’s throw it out ,say goodbye to bad rubbish ,”constitution” that enslaved us in different shades of grey for 70 years .

    This is what MTV and CT must tirelessly promote ,change the Constitution ,and it will humble the politicians and make them better and be forced to work or quit .

    Good night …

  • 2
    0

    We do not have to become Like Singapore or look for a leader like Lee.

    We the people can do it ,we as a people have more resources within us and we can do it ,First we must stop believing all the lies and myths of toxics fed to us to keep us divided and turn us against each other ,,divert our attention by racial and bigotry so the bandits can rob even in daylight .

  • 2
    2

    Give your votes to anyone, to any political party , appoint anyone as PM any party as government ,but before you do that,please give a sincere thought of changing the constitution that has a peoples Senate or a peoples powerful body that can have the final say in everything with regard to this Country and people ,please do not be divided ,no matter what difference we have ,let’s be united for the sake of The Country .

    If you do not put in place a constitution that protects the nation and people , it would be like treating the illness without eradicating the root cause of it.
    If this is not done , we are going to regret forever ,no matter who rules and our future generation will be more mature and better in thoughts and will curse us all.

    And please remember oppositions are not peoples friend ,politicians are not anyone’s friends they are their own friend .

    MEDIAS may have short coming ,but remember if not for media’s we will all by sitting on the pavements like in Greece (once )

    Support the medias all of them and work with them and encourage them. to correct what may be unfair and damaging

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.