Skip to main content

Singapore's 'unapologetic autocrat' was far-sighted statesman to Modi

By Our Representative
In a scathing commentary, Ben Judah, author of best-seller "Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In And Out Of Love With Vladimir Putin", has qualified Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew -- who died at the age of 91 on March 23 -- as someone whose legacy brought about "an unmitigated disaster" to several countries in the world, especially Eastern Europe.
"The cult of Lee has poisoned Eastern Europe, but we should remember that it is also a global phenomenon. Brilliant Western intellectuals, CEOs and leaders created this cult over many years at Davos and other conferences and summits of the global power elite, thus fueling the authoritarian temptation in Eastern Europe", Judah has said.
The commentary is significant as it comes close on the heels of praise showered on Lee by President Barrack Obama, who called him a “a true giant of history,” and Britain’s David Cameron acclaimed him for “one of the great success stories” of modern times.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him a "far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders" whose life "teaches valuable lessons to everyone". India's corporate media praising him for "single-handedly" transforming "a poor, malarial port into the richest nation in the Indo-Pacific".
An article in a top daily said, "Lee's formula sounds familiar to anyone who has been listening to Modi's speeches on the economy. If Modi implements the Singapore-inspired reforms that his predecessors could not, Lee will be able to claim to have been pivotal to the transformation of the world's two largest countries by providing a tangible, viable model for both."
Calling him "Singapore’s unapologetic autocrat" who helped to "rehabilitate and legitimize authoritarianism", Judah says, Lee became "a global idea" of an "intellectual cult" that "not all autocrats are bad."
In his hard-hitting article in Politico Magazine, "The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew: The leader eulogized by Obama as a ‘giant of history’ is being used to re-legitimize tyranny", Judah regrets Lee is being regarded as a a symbol of "enlightened philosopher-kings" who could lead their countries "to prosperity and power without the hassle of liberal democracy."
Pointing out that today the cult of Lee is "so widespread that even the Russian minister directing Crimea points to Lee as a mentor", Judah underlines, "The problem is that in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, strongmen inspired by Lee have only led their countries into war, chaos and economic dead ends, all the while professing to follow his example."
He adds, "The cult of Lee has allowed these elites in Moscow, Kiev and Tbilisi to make the case that they could find an alternative path to success without liberal democracy. And this is the cult that the sycophantic eulogies of Western leaders are now elevating only further."
Judah believes, the Lee cult took off because "the appeal of the European Union waned", and "the myth of Singapore offered to Eastern European leaders the illusion of a high-growth, hard-man alternative".
According to Judah, "No country in Eastern Europe fell in love with Lee Kuan Yew quite as much as Russia, as I discovered while I was researching my book Fragile Empire in 2011-2012. I was frequently told by both Kremlin insiders in Moscow and regional governors that Lee Kuan Yew was the inspiration of Russia’s deepening authoritarianism."
Judah further says, "Thanks to the myth of Singapore, Kremlin elites came to believe—for the first time since the 1980s–that there could be a third way between Western liberal democracy, especially following the path of the European Union, and despotic authoritarian rule. This has turned out to be a bitter illusion during Putin’s third term as president."
In fact, says Judah, "The cult of Lee helped to keep the liberals in thrall to Putin when they had the power to halt his slide into expansionist nationalism. Many of those very those same advisers and politicians who once lauded the Singapore option can now be heard darkly muttering about Putin’s creeping dictatorship at think-tank conferences across Europe."

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.