马来西亚独立电台BFM89.9邀请牛津大学全球历史中心的客座研究员和牛津大学东南亚项的协调员覃炳鑫博士就李光耀的逝世进行访谈。（译者按：覃博士也是《新加坡1963年冷藏行动50周年纪念》（The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore）一书的共同作者之一。他撰写的文章是：《‘骨肉团聚’：新加坡中文社群与人他们对新马合并的观点》(Flesh and bone reunite as one body”Singapore Chinese-speaking and their Perspectives on Merge)。他还撰写了一篇极其重要的文章：《Lim Chin Siong was wrongfully detained林清祥被拘留是错误的！》
Lee Chwi Lynn: 我们已经建立了有关为什么新加坡选择自己的前途的说法。您已经就有关早期新加坡经济和他（李光耀）被描述为是创造经济转型计划，是为了减少新加坡受到攻击经济条件的影响所带来的损失，和改进新加坡本身的经济前景以便继续增长。这是极其重要的。您怎样看待有一个国家的规模以及它缺乏天然资源。那些它是实行了哪些政策来确保经济增长的。
Thum Ping Tjin: 好的。Lynn小姐，您是知道的。我必须把问题摊开来说，因为李光耀并不是主导（新加坡）经济的主脑人物。在行动党的内阁成员有李光耀、杜进才、吴庆瑞、拉惹勒南和王邦文，经济的主脑人物是吴庆瑞。王邦文是目前仅存的一个内阁成员。
Lee Chwi Lynn: 我想，在今天的卜告都包含着有关这方面的讨论——他在某方面是负责，或者说，如您所知的，他在经济上成就是有很大方面的功绩。
Thum Ping Tjin: 假设，就经济上的稳定成就而而言，我想这是主要的组成部分。假设您从官僚权限，有效性——这些情况（指经济成就）就不是李光耀个人所带来的了。杜进才是行动党的中枢人物。他是一位有效力的党领袖。王邦文是党的组织秘书，同时，这也和受华文教育者有关。拉惹勒南是这个群体的理论家，回过头来说，吴庆瑞的一个经济学家。您是知道的，在我们谈论新加坡的经济成就时，首先我们必须记住一点就是在李光耀之前新加坡已经能够是一个非常富裕的国家了
Lee Chwi Lynn: 关于这一点，回到1999年刊登在《时代》杂志的一篇文章提到了在亚洲其他国家缔造者他除外，这是个复杂而他所未曾做过的事。——他未曾涉及贪污。他未曾掌权在位很久。您同意这个看法吗？
Thum Ping Tjin: 很好，这并不是真实的……您可以在我的学术论文找到的答案是‘不是真实的’，而不是‘是’或者‘不是’（笑声）。
Lee Chwi Lynn: 在李光耀的整个漫长的事业里，行动党要如何调整他们的政策？因为在这些政策上，他们是保证新加坡在某些程度上的成功的同时也面对抨击的。
Thum Ping Tjin: 是的。我想，我现在最大的顾虑是李光耀逝世后，我们是不是把李光耀制定这些政策视为是某些信条。李光耀很喜欢使用‘实用主义’这个字眼。这也是就他成为政治家的一个座右铭。这包括了他在的政治事业一身中戏剧性的改变他的政策。
Interview with Thum Ping Tjin about Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore – Part 2
Lee Chwi Lynn: We’ve established, possibly, the motivating factors for why Singapore was the way it was, why we had to part ways. You mentioned the economy earlier and he (Lee Kuan Yew) is described as having instituted an economic diversification plan which limited Singapore’s vulnerability to international economic conditions and improved its prospects for continued growth, which is very important when you’re looking at a country of that size and with its lack of natural resources. So what policies did he implement and used to ensure this?
Thum Ping Tjin: Well you know Lynn, again, I think we need to unpack the question a bit because Lee was not the economic mastermind, Goh Keng Swee was the economic mastermind. Of the big five in the PAP Cabinet – Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam and Ong Pang Boon – only one is left, Ong Pang Boon.
But each of them contributed very different things to the PAP and they worked incredibly well together as a team. Lee was the unquestioned leader, he was the master politician, he was the one who could get things done but he wasn’t the economic mastermind. That was Goh Keng Swee. And I feel it is very unfair to credit economic success to Lee Kuan Yew even though it’s become so popular to talk about Singapore’s economic success being the result of Lee Kuan Yew.
Lee Chwi Lynn: I think almost every obituary today has kind of included that in the discussion – he was responsible in some way or, you know, in a big way for the economic success.
Thum Ping Tjin: If you think of stability as a key ingredient for economic success, yes.
If you think of bureaucratic competence, efficiency – those are the things that Lee Kuan Yew brought although he wasn’t the only one. Toh Chin Chye was the steel spine of the PAP, he was a very effective party leader. Ong Pang Boon was the party’s organising secretary and also the link to the Chinese educated. Rajaratnam was the philosopher of the group but Goh Keng Swee was the economist and again, you know we talk first about Singapore’s economic success. It is important to remember that Singapore was a very very rich country before Lee Kuan Yew.
By 1930, Singapore was the richest country in Asia in terms of per capita income. And after the war, by 1950, Singapore had recovered already. So the only place in Asia which could claim to be richer was metropolitan Tokyo which of course is a city not a whole country.
So Singapore was fabulously rich, but Singapore’s big problem was that it was an exploitative colonial economy and it had no workers rights. It ruthlessly exploited the population, the working class. So Singapore was incredibly unequal.
The mean income in Singapore in 1950 was around 1,200 Malayan dollars, but the median and modal of income was the same as the poverty line, which was about 100 Malayan dollars. So if you imagine, the rich in Singapore was so rich that they pulled up the average, the mean to 12 times the modal and the median income which was the poverty line.
That was Singapore’s problem and Lee Kuan Yew’s great success was recognising that, working with the trade unions, helping to make Singapore a much more egalitarian and much more socialist, much more democratic place. It was a place where for the first time, regardless of your birth, you actually had opportunities; you actually, even if you didn’t speak English, for example, – that discrimination against non-English speaking – work was rampant in Singapore; the introduction of the women’s charter.
So the PAP’s great achievement under Lee Kuan Yew was not to make Singapore rich, it was to make Singapore fair and I think that is missing in a lot of obituaries.
Lee Kuan Yew – the early Lee Kuan Yew, the 1960s and 70s Lee Kuan Yew – and the 1960s and 70s PAP was a socialist party that aimed to make Singapore a fair place that treated all its citizens fairly, and that is their real legacy.
Lee Chwi Lynn: On that note, an article in Time Magazine back in 1999 claimed that what really sets this complex man apart from Asia’s other nation-builders is what he didn’t do. He did not become corrupt and he did not stay in power too long. Would you agree with this?
Thum Ping Tjin: Well, not really…. You’ll find that as an academic my answers tend to be “not really” rather than “yes” and “no” (laughter).
He did not become corrupt. Yes, absolutely. But ask yourself – Singapore is a country with no natural resources. Instead, its wealth lies upon foreign investment, foreign capital flowing in. If you become corrupt in Singapore, you can’t plunder your country’s natural resources. You have to create an environment where foreign capital keeps flowing in. Then you take your cut of that foreign capital. That’s how you would become corrupt in Singapore. Now if you look at what the PAP’s leaders have done in the last two decades, where salaries – the Prime Minister’s salary is now upwards of $2 million. And ask yourself, is that corruption, or is that simply having predictability and transparency in your corruption. That is a question that Singaporeans need to ask ourselves when we are faced with the vote at the ballot box.
As to the other half of your question, [whether] he did not stay in power too long. Well, he’s still an MP as of yesterday, right? And he only left the cabinet in 2011, and as a direct result – not because he chose to leave, but as a direct result of the PAP’s lowest vote share since independence. He could have retired – if he had left the cabinet in 1991, I think his obituaries would be far more generous and far kinder, and I think people would remember him with greater fondness. But he chose to stay on as Minister Mentor and continued to intervene heavily in Singapore politics for a long time. And of course, his son is Prime Minister, so he still has influence there. So I think he stayed on in power too long, if you ask me.
Lee Chwi Lynn: And throughout the course of his very long career, how were the policies of the People’s Action Party justified? Because, of course, these are policies which, while they guaranteed Singapore some measure of success, also came under fire.
Thum Ping Tjin: Yes. I think that, again, my big fear now that Lee Kuan Yew has passed on, is that we take his justifications for those policies as some sort of gospel. Lee Kuan Yew loved to use the word “pragmatic”, and that’s what he was as a politician as well. Whatever worked at the time, he would use. And that included his justifications for his policies, which changed dramatically over the course of his political career.
Between 1955 – 1959, he was a massive champion for democracy, transparency, freedom – and all these things went out the window once he got into power, because he didn’t want his own policies to be questioned. Then from 1959 until 1963, and even 1965, he championed a Malayan identity, he championed the idea of a greater Malaysia; after ’65 he championed an independent Singapore, and of course, not having electoral certainty, he still was a very socialist and talked about equality and fairness and meritocracy.
But from 1980 or so, once the last vestiges of Singapore’s opposition were shut down, then he switched started becoming far more openly authoritarian, and justified his policies in terms of pragmatism, efficiency, and of course later on he articulated this “Asian values” – as if one can generalize about a region of 3-4 billion people and say that there’s such a thing as “Asian values” – but these are all things to use to justify his policies at the time.
（to be continue….）