- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Singaporean Steamroller
- Official Title: Prime Minister
- Government: One-party state
- Years Left in Office: Indefinite: no term limits
- Political Classification: Center-right
- Education: BA Mathematics & Master of Public Administration
- Age: 66 (born February 10, 1952)
Lee Hsien Loong Facts and Information
- Lee Hsien Loong is the 3rd Prime Minister of Singapore
- Lee is the oldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, the 1st Prime Minister of Singapore and known as Singapore’s founding father.
- Lee’s party, People Action Party (PAP), holds a majority of seats in the Singapore Parliament, with 83 out of 101 seats occupied.
- Under Lee, Singapore is deemed to be least corrupt country in Asia by Transparency International
- Lee has been constantly beset by accusations of nepotism, but has held his own as Prime Minister
The usual hierarchy of the World consists of continents. In these continents, there are countries. In these countries, there are cities and towns. That is the way it goes right? This is normally the case, but one concept missing from that list is the city-state. The city-state is a sovereign state which consists of a city and its surrounding dependent territory. The Vatican City is a city-state. But enough about religion and the Catholics! The focus of this piece is about Singapore, which is the only sovereign island city-state on this planet.
Where the hell is Singapore and how long has it been around?
Singapore is a diamond-shaped island southeast of Malaysia and includes numerous islets. Its territorial size is comparable to the countries that make up Micronesia. In fact, Singapore is ranked 19th to last in terms of territory size in the World (out of a total of 195 countries and territories in the World). Yet, such a tiny island has been a very influential part of and has shaped policy in East Asia.
Singapore’s existence started as a trading post of the British East India Company in the early 19th century. Shortly thereafter, the entire Singapore territory was absorbed into the British Empire. At the time, Singapore served as a strategic naval base for the Brits and they occupied Singapore until World War II, when the brute force of Imperial Japan pushed out the British Empire. Following Japanese surrender after the war, Singapore was occupied by both the United Kingdom and Malaysia until it agreed to become a part of latter. However, due to ideological differences and other disagreements concerning economical and political issues, Malaysia expelled Singapore, allowing Singapore to become a sovereign entity in the global community.
The Emergence of Lee Kuan Yew and one of Asia’s Four Tigers
Lee Kuan Yew is known to Singaporeans as the founding father of Singapore. Lee was the head honcho prior to the absorption by Malaysia and even after expulsion, Singapore looked to Lee to guide the way.
Lee did not disappoint. After recognition from the United Nations in 1965, Lee looked to his neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia for legitimacy and diplomacy. Through his efforts, both neighbors backed Singapore’s relevancy in the Asian region. In terms of economy, Lee parlayed Singapore into an attractive investment country from multinational corporations and ultimately succeeded. By the 1970s, Singapore was attracting the likes of Hewlett Packard and General Electric. With the guarantees by Lee of cutting edge infrastructure, a society mirroring the West and skilled labor, Singapore attracted international banks and investment firms, which transformed it to a global financial hub. Under a rapid growing econonmy, Singapore earned the distinction of being one of Asia’s Four Tigers (the others being Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea).
Understanding that Singapore was vulnerable in terms of military might in the region, Lee pushed for military build-up in the name of the Singapore Armed Forces. Under Lee, Singapore was one of the first countries in the World to implement military conscription, that is, mandatory military service for all of Singaporean citizens (Singapore has since ended this practice. Conscription remains only in North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan).
It is important to note that Lee did not fully embrace democracy during his time as Prime Minister. Under his rule, he was often criticized for putting civil liberties on the back burner and keeping his political opponents at bay with legislation and litigation. Lee, however, maintained that such actions were in the best interests of his government and the people of Singapore.
Understanding that Singapore was made up of different ethnic groups, Lee pushed for a single Singaporean identity, which pushed for multiculturalism, religious tolerance and racial consciousness.
Having served over three decades as Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee stepped down in 1990 as Prime Minister and head of his political party.
Caretaker Government? The Lee Dynasty?
After handing the reigns to his then deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Lee remained in an advisory role as Senior Minister. While it is not widely talked about, rumors spread that Goh was “keeping the seat warm for Lee Hsien Loong, or HL, Lee Kuan Yew’s, or KY’s, oldest son. When prompted about the allegations, HL maintained that he was the most qualified to be the Prime Minister of Singapore, regardless of whether or not he happens to be KY’s oldest son. HL has gone so far as to raise litigation against such dynastic accusations.
It is important to note that after KY’s role as Senior Minister, he served as ‘Minister Mentor’ after HL became Prime Minister, a unique yet unusual political position. KY maintained that these roles were strictly advisory in nature, but rumors never ceased about what actual role he was playing in the cabinet.
Singapore as a Regional Powerhouse
During HL’s time as Prime Minister, he has seen a bevy of issues and introduced many additions to Singapore. He was able to weather the 2008 global financial crisis, with Singapore coming out relatively unscathed. In 2010, HL’s realization of legalized gambling came to fruition with the opening of two integrated casino resorts, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, amidst heavy debate over the possible negative impact towards the citizens of Singapore. The two integrated casino resorts in Singapore primarily cater to foreign tourists, with locals needing to pay an entrance fee each time they enter. Talk about a deterrence!
Under his term, HL has seen rises in GDP, GNI, Per Capita income and many other major categories while at the same time, lowering Singapore’s unemployment rate. Singapore’s total trading dollars have also closed in on one TRILLION dollars. This gives Singapore the distinction of having the second busiest port in Asia, in terms of container cargo, right behind Shanghai. Not too shabby for being a tiny territorial country compared to the massive size of China!
With its infrastructure, government structure and giant trading status, Singapore has solidified itself as a well-established country in the World. There will always be discussion and debate over HL and his father, and whether or not HL deserves to be the Prime Minister but one thing is certain: HL has done a pretty damn good job so far as Prime Minister of Singapore and there are no indications that it will change any time soon!
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