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Those praising Lee Kuan Yew ignored the benefits of democracyFew politicians have garnered as many effusive public tributes after their death as Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founder and long-serving former prime minister. Like many authoritarian leaders (Benito Mussolini, for one), Lee was once a socialist.There is something extraordinary about the adulation of Lee.Lee never claimed that liberal democracy in the West was a mistake.Most Indians would surely disagree that they are culturally unsuited to democracy – as would modern Japanese, Taiwanese or South Koreans. It makes a certain sense to speak of Asian values in Singapore, because it would be disrespectful to the Malay and Indian minorities to justify their subservience by invoking Chinese values.Lee's premise, from which he never departed, was that, especially in a multiethnic society such as Singapore, a meritocratic elite must impose social harmony from above.
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