Lee Kuan Yew urges Muslims to 'be less strict'
By Philip Lim (AFP) – 24/01/2001
SINGAPORE — Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew has urged local Muslims to "be less strict on Islamic observances" to aid integration and the city-state's nation-building process.
Singapore has a predominantly Chinese population, with minority races including Muslim Malays and Indians, and Lee has always stressed the importance of racial harmony.
"I would say today, we can integrate all religions and races except Islam," he said in "Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going," a new book containing his typically frank views on the city-state and its future.
"I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration -- friends, intermarriages and so on..." he stated.
"I think the Muslims socially do not cause any trouble, but they are distinct and separate," Lee added, calling on the community to "be less strict on Islamic observances."
During the book's launch on Friday, the self-described "pragmatist" warned Singaporeans against complacency, saying the largely ethnic Chinese republic was still a nation in the making.
Describing Singapore in the book as an "80-storey building on marshy land," Lee said it must contend with hostility from larger Muslim neighbours.
"We've got friendly neighbours? Grow up... There is this drive to put us down because we are interlopers," he said, citing alleged Malaysian and Indonesian efforts to undermine Singapore's crucial port business.
Singapore was ejected from the Malaysian federation in 1965 in large part due to Kuala Lumpur's preferential policies for ethnic Malays, and has since built up Southeast Asia's most modern military to deter foreign aggression.
Turning to local politics, Lee said the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), which has been in power since 1959 when Singapore gained political autonomy from colonial ruler Britain, will someday lose its grip on power.
"There will come a time when eventually the public will say, look, let's try the other side, either because the PAP has declined in quality or the opposition has put up a team which is equal to the PAP... That day will come."
"In the next 10 years to 20 years, I don't think it'll happen. Beyond that, I cannot tell."
Lee said that despite a survey showing the contrary, he believed Singaporeans were not yet ready for a non-ethnic-Chinese prime minister.
"A poll says 90 percent of Chinese Singaporeans say they will elect a non-Chinese as PM. Yes, this is the ideal. You believe these polls? Utter rubbish. They say what is politically correct," he stated.
He also defended the policy of promoting marriage between highly-educated Singaporeans, a policy seen by critics as a form of social engineering, and dismissed the notion of love at first sight.
"People get educated, the bright ones rise, they marry equally well-educated spouses. The result is their children are likely to be smarter than the children of those who are gardeners," he said.
"It's a fact of life. You get a good mare, you don't want a dud stallion to breed with your good mare. You get a poor foal."
People who are "attracted by physical characteristics" may regret it, he said.
Lee also revealed that he had donated to charity all his earnings of S$13 million ($10 million) since stepping down as prime minister in 1990 after 31 years in power.
Singapore's cabinet ministers are the highest paid in the world as part of a strategy to prevent corruption and attract talent from the private sector.
Lee, who holds the special title Minister Mentor, now serves as an adviser to his son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who came to power in 2004.
Amid all the hard-edged talk, Lee showed his tender side when asked about his late wife Kwa Geok Choo, who died aged 89 in October last year.
"It means more solitude. No one to talk to when the day's work is done," Lee said in the book, the result of exclusive interviews with journalists from the country's leading daily, the Straits Times.
### Komen M-2Day ###
Korang sendiri boleh lihat perangai BABI LEE KUAN YEW ni. Ini ialah cakap yang keluar dari mulut GURU kepada Lim Kit Siang, Antara komen2 di atas ni korang boleh nampak jelas yang dia ni ANTI ISLAM dan RASIS! Dia juga BABI yang begitu mencurigai negara2 jiran nya. Inilah TUAN GURU kepada DAP. Ini juga lah yang cuba di buat oleh DAP kepada Malaysia.
LEE KUAN YEW BABI menganggap undian yang mengatakan 90% rakyat Singapore setuju melantik bangsa lain sebagai PM Singapore sebagai "SAMPAH" ... BAPAK BABI RASIS.
Dia juga cakap dia boleh bekerjasama dengan semua bangsa dan agama KECUALI ISLAM! Inilah dia manusia yang di sanjung oleh DAP dan jangan lupa PAS dan PKR juga amat menyanjung tinggi BABI ni. Jadi Kalau dah CIKGU perangai camni, anak murid apa cerita? Korang semua tahu kan LIM KIT SIANG ialah bekas setiasusaha LEE KUAN YEW. Lim Kit Siang "tertinggal" di Malaysia kerana dia ni lah orang yang di pertanggungjawabkan oleh LEE KUAN YEW untuk MENG-SINGAPURA-KAN Malaysia yang kita cintai ini.
Aku bawak cerita pasal BABI ni sebab dia ni manjadi penasihat rahsia DAP. Dan DAP dan berjaya "MENAWAN" PAS dan PKR menjadi HAMBA ABDI nya. Di sebabkan itu lah kita perlu menolak Pakatan Rakyat! Jika tidak kita akan hilang segalanya.
Melayu Singapura membidaas TUN MAHATHIR kerana komen TUN M terhadap mereka. Sampai ada yang kata ORANG TUA NYANYUK! Amat kurang ajar. Melayu Singapura memang hebat berbanding kita di Malaysia, tetapi mereka TIADA SUARA, mereka hebat di negara orang. Mereka menang sorak tapi kampung tergadai, inilah maksud TUN MAHATHIR bila dia mengatakan Melayu Singapura ketinggalan. Anda di sana hanya mengikut segala peraturan CINA2 tu, kalaulah satu hari nanti mereka tidak membenarkan AZAN kerana bising pun, korang terpaksa ikut kenapa? Sebab anda tiada SUARA! Kami MELAYU di Malaysia mahu hebat dan cemerlang di Negara sendiri! Itu beza kami dgn anda wahai MELAYU SINGAPURA.