THE SITUATION IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am somewhat intimidated by this lectern in front of me; I have nothing to read from any script because I have been too busy to prepare anything. I have forewarned your Chairman that I would like to speak briefly lest my ignorance on so many things be discovered. However, I should like to say how grateful I am for this opportunity to talk to people who are knowledgeable, who are interested in South-East Asia, and who will help in their own way to influence thinking on South-East Asia. It is really the thought processes before the policy is decided upon that is so important to us.
British policy will for the foreseeable future be one of the most important factors in South-East Asia -- one of the most important non-South-East Asian factors in South-East Asia. I, for one, will be sorry to see it supplanted by American policy; and it is my hope that what has happened and what is happening in Laos may never find repetition nearer home.
May I, after those somewhat unpromising remarks, come back to something which I know a little bit about, namely Malaysia. Well, I have been wanting to get away from Singapore for some time, because Singapore is a very small place. The problems are enormous, you cannot run away from them, and I thought to myself that, perhaps in the lull that I have between now and Malaysia Day, I might do a useful bit of work seeing a few people, talk to a few British Ministers who are concerned with responsibilities connected with the region, and generally trying to make friends, but not to influence them, in as many places I could.
First -- Malaysia. What does it mean to us? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to the outside world? To us, who do not want to see Singapore and Malaya slowly engulfed and eroded away by the Communists, it is an absolute ‘must’. The alternatives are so unpleasant as to be quite unthinkable, and, because they are so unpleasant, I have not the slightest doubt that Malaysia will succeed.
When the federation of these five territories or some grouping was first suggested by Mr. Malcolm Macdonald many years ago it was welcomed by people who were then considered weak, reactionary stooge elements of British colonialism. Red-blooded people like myself and the Communists scoffed at this fanciful plot to try and delay the political advance against the British colonial system in Malaya and Singapore. Well, that was more than a decade ago, and times have changed. In that time several things happened. First of all, Communist China emerged as a real force in the whole area. Secondly, the fringes of South-East Asia became more and more unstable -- Indonesia, Vietnam, even Burma. Thirdly, within the last decade the realities of powerpolitics came home to the young nationalists of South-East Asia; and it came home vividly with the Sino-Indian border conflict. There was the Bandung Conference, and the warm after-glow of fraternity and solidarity of Afro-Asia -- just because we were Afro-Asians -- vanished; the reality of power was brought home. I think anybody who has not been to the area for ten years and went back the one marked difference they would find between the 1940’s and the 1960’s is the fact that in those ten years everybody graduated into first-class scouts -- no longer tenderfoots. One has not just joined the boy-scouts, one has found out about path-finding, and how it is necessary to have a good compass. Now, why am I now solidly in favour of Malaysia? I have spent the lastthree weeks talking to a few people whose names and repute carry weight in the Afro-Asian world, and in the non-Communist world generally, to convince them that this is no longer a British plot, that this is our scheme amended and somewhat different, but nationalist and not colonialist. I think it would be useful if I were to tell you how it began, what the position is now, what I think will happen in the immediate future, and what I think the long term prospects are. Well, officially, Malaysia began when the Tengku, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, came down to Singapore to make a speech to some foreign correspondents in May of last year, and he said he was all in favour of closer economic and political association between Malaya, Singapore and the Borneo territories; a faithful pronouncement, because for the first time he acknowledged that he had to have economic and political association with Singapore.
Since 1955 when he was somewhat aghast at the boisterousness of the people in Singapore his policy has been one of systematic isolation and the cutting of all ties between Singapore and the Federation in the fond belief that the British could look after Singapore.
I spent a great deal of time and effort between 1955 and 1959, when I assumed office, trying to convince him that in the long run he had to reckon with Singapore, and that it was easier if he included us in his overall calculations and started on the basis of Singapore as part of his overall problems than if he tried to
pass the problem-child over to the British. I will tell you that I was amazed and astonished at the turn of events which, between 1959 and 1961, helped me to bring home to him the realities of the position. Of course, the British, in their own pragmatic way, also helped, but I would say that nobody however well informed could have foreseen the rapidity with which events developed in and around Malaysia. I certainly did not, because I had envisaged an unpleasant time trying to contain an almost uncontainable situation in isolation from Malaya, but fortunately our enemies made a number of mistakes which helped us: first in convincing the Tengku that Singapore mattered to him, that the British could not look after Singapore for him indefinitely, that he had to come to terms with Singapore, and that the best way of coming to terms with Singapore was to come to terms with Malaysia in the context of South-East Asia. That is really the heart of the matter with regard to Malaysia. The Tengku never thought about the Borneo territories. He never imagined that he would be a sponsor of a plan that would form a viable broadly-based nation in South-East Asia comprising these five British possessions. His attitude between 1955 and 1959 was one which is not unnatural in people who have just inherited tremendous problems of their own, of just minding their own business, and he had a lot of business to mind in Malaya. He was doing well, and he saw no reason why he should undertake problems, the nature of which he did not like, and, the prospects of providing solutions to which, he was uncertain of.
All of you are well-informed on Malaya and Malaysia, and all of you, no doubt, can read between the lines of what politicians often leave unsaid, but, because I am talking to an audience not of immediate political favour, I think I can afford myself the privilege of talking between the lines, which is perhaps what you would like. Let me now explain to you why we are in the present position:
I will not pretend to try to explain British policy, because there are people more competent and more knowledgeable than I am, but whatever the policy was designed to achieve it certainly helped me, because it convinced the Tengku that he had to come to terms with immediate realities -- that was Singapore. It has got 1.6- million people of which 1.2 are Chinese, 200,000 Malays and about 200,000 Indians, 2,000 Eurasians and others. After his experience in Malaya he was convinced that Singapore was not an easy place to govern, because the Communists are able to manipulate Chinese sentiments, Chinese feelings and love of Chinese things, such as language, culture, civilisation, to much greater effectiveness than anybody else, certainly to much greater effectiveness than he and his colleagues. But in the course of the first eighteen months we were able to convince him and his colleagues that if he allowed the Singapore situation to continue in isolation to Malaya he would create a position where it was worthwhile to make a political appeal based on the Chinese alone. Because if 70 per cent of the people in Singapore are Chinese, and you can win the majority of the 70, you can win political power on the basis of one-man-one-one-vote, (which is what the British have foisted on Leicester), and whatever he tried to do with his 2 ½million Chinese in the Federation, as long as a contrary cause was going on in Singapore, he would fail to win over these 2½ million Chinese in the Federation, because they are one people and one political situation; what happened in the Federation had its effect on Singapore and vice-versa. The argument convinced him, and he was coming round to the view that it was better to move ahead of events, hence that momentous speech when he casually mentioned closer political and economic association. We responded, we welcomed it, and we said that if Malaysia helped merger we were all in favour of it, and that led off a chain of events which has completely altered the outlook in Malaysia for the next decade.
Briefly, the reactions were as follows: the Communists, being oversuspicious, believed that we had already reached an agreement with the British and the Federation -- in fact, we had not -- to create this Federation called Malaysia. For various reasons they decided that they would force the fight into the open and stop it, and that very act accelerated the whole process and brought home to the Tengku and his colleagues the dire necessity of having Malaysia, or of being undermined by a Communist-manipulated situation from Singapore. An independent television man interviewed the Tengku in April of this year; he casually laughed and asked the Tengku how Malaysia was going, and the Tengku said: ‘I do not know -- I hope all is well’. He was at that time somewhat angry at what was going on in Borneo. The man asked him: ‘What happens if Malaysia does not succeed?, and the Tengku replied: ‘I would be the most happy man in the world’. That is true; without Malaysia he would feel a sense of relief without these problems; with Malaysia he would feel that it was the lesser of the two evils, but he has not got the answer to some of the many problems he will inherit. These are the immediate problems: In Malaya today there are 3.4 million Malays against 2.5 million Chinese against 0.8 million Indians. A society which is not completely integrated. Part of the Chinese are English-educated and would fit in with the Malayan scene -- anything between 30-40 per cent. The balance are not English-educated, and half of that balance will probably have their loyalties tied up with the country of the origin of their ancestors. The Indians do not form a sizable force, nor do they constitute any problem. The Tengku has been doing well, because the Malayan Communist Party has been sufficiently unwise to pursue a policy which rallies all the forces in the Malay world around him, and leaves the forces in the Chinese world who are not for the Communists no choice but to reach a working basis with whoever leads the Malay majority.
Let me explain this: 99 per cent of the Malayan Communist Party is Chinese. They have fought for the last 17 years, since 1945, to establish a Soviet Republic based on the efforts and sacrifices of the Chinese. They cannot conceive of a situation in which Communism can come to Malaya without their efforts; and they use the obvious and the simple method of winning more people over to Communism by pointing to the illustrious example of China. The result is that they win more recruits from the Chinese into the Malayan Communist Party and present Communism to the non-Chinese in Malaya as Chinese Imperialism, and so they get themselves more and more isolated in this Chinese world. The Malays watching this have a tremendous fear that their position will be jeopardised, and, therefore, playing around their traditional leaders -- and the
Tengku is an extremely shrewd and able leader of his people -- have kept all the
traditional forms of leadership. He, himself, is the son of a Sultan, a traditional leader of his people; and he has proved over seven years that his leadership over the Malays is likely to be undisputed for a long time, and certainly for as long as the Malayan Communist Party pursues this stupid policy of augmenting their strength on the basis of the prestige and reputation of China, making an appeal only to the Chinese.
But with Malaysia, the Tengku inherits different problems. In the first place, if he had merger with Singapore without Malaysia he is quite convinced that enormous differences will arise, because the population of Singapore is 1.2 million Chinese, plus the 2.5 million in the Federation will make it 3.7 million as against 3.6 million Malays. I am not saying this is a desirable method of computing, but I am saying that this is basic political arithmetic which weighs in the minds of political leaders -- Communist, non-Communist and anti-Communist-- because of the situation. Therefore, he is adamant that with merger -- which he sees no escape from -- he must have Malaysia. For then he will have 1 million Malays, Dusuns Dayaks, Muruts and others, to add to the 3.5 million which will make it 4.5 million, and the Chinese would be 3.6 million plus 400,000 in Sarawak and North Borneo to make it roughly 4 million. In other words, merger without Malaysia lands him in a situation which he fears: a Chinese-led Communist party may in the extreme manipulate Chinese sentiments to a point where the Chinese with electoral weighting can upset a constitutionally-elected government. Therefore, Malaysia is the answer, because that would more or less maintain the present balance of the communal forces in Malaya. The Communists know this; they are resigned to merger because they understand that it is impossible to have an independent Singapore, but they want merger alone without Malaysia because they believe that what the Tengku fears is right,that they have got the power with China Communist to manipulate the Chinese to a point where they might be able to constitutionally-upset the Government. My next thesis is, I do not think the one-man-one-vote system is going to endure in South-East Asia for various reasons which I shall discuss briefly, but the present generation of leaders in this particular phase envisage a continuance of the one-man-one-vote system and see in this a workable solution to prevent any Communist manipulation of Chinese sentiments on behalf of the Communists. Now, are they right? It is very difficult to say. But we have certainly got a better base and a better start with Malaysia than without Malaysia for this one simple reason, that, the Chinese being an extremely practical-minded people, never embark on a gamble which they do not think is likely to succeed. Therefore, if you start with Malaysia they will not ever embark or allow themselves to be persuaded to embark on a scheme to capture power which they may otherwise be tempted to do. Now, a Chinese educationist recently had his citizenship revoked and is now in the process of appealing to the courts to
challenge the legality of the revocation, and he is not a Communist. He has simply been quarelling with the Government very vehemently and vociferously about Chinese education and the policy of the Federation Government with regard to Chinese education. He stated at the Chinese University in Singapore -- I do not know whether this in any way influenced the revoking of the citizenship,
I am sure it did not have any connection whatsoever -- to the students that: ‘We must have merger because then the Chinese will be in the majority and Chinese will be the national language, or one of the national languages’. So, in my estimation, the way in which events have developed between May and now have been such as to have heightened the conflict and the cleavage between the China Chinese and the rest of the community. But the China Chinese are not Communists -- that is important. They are for themselves with all their prejudices and pride in their ancient culture and civilisation; and if we start off from a situation in which they are not going to win anyway by pursuing a Chinese line, I think we stand a very good chance of pulling a considerable proportion of them across to the other side away from the Communists, and that is what I think people like me can do if given a chance. You can govern Malaysia without the Chinese because you will have a situation where the Chinese are not a majority, but you will not govern it well; because 40 percent, though they may be of Malaysia, are the 40 per cent that makes the Malaysian economy tick. That is a fact which, fortunately, the Federation leaders understand; the Tengku and all his colleagues understand this, and there is no desire and no inclination on their part to start on any anti-Chinese crusade, as was attempted by the Indonesians. Therefore, I say that the prospect of Malaysia failing presents such awful consequences that I am pretty sure it will succeed because it is in our power to make it succeed. The only thing which I think is necessary before it succeeds is a considerable amount of commonsense, first in the British who run the administration in Borneo -- and who have considerable influence amongst the population there through chieftains, trade associations and so on -- a certain amount of reasonableness from the Federation in acknowledging that Borneo is, after all, 1,000 miles over the sea, and that the local population has got aspirations of its own, local ambitions which they want to be fulfilled with their own men, and the planning to bring it into being without much fuss and bother.
I do not envisage the present period of gestation coming to an otherwise but happy conclusion. No doubt there will be a great deal of trouble from time to time as adjustments are made in attitudes and approaches to resolve the problem of good government in the new Federation of Malaysia. But I believe it will come about before June 1963.
What of the future? I think it is solidly secure for the first five to ten years,for as long as our neighbours are secure. The problem of South-East Asia really, once Malaysia is established, is the problem of our neighbours. So long as the Thais are steady and the Burmese are steady and the Indonesians are not Communist, so we will be all right.
I do not know how many shots will be fired in Indonesia, and I do not know with what consequences; but assuming that Laos does not lead to any cataclysmic change in the situation, assuming that the Americans do not get involved in something bigger than they can contain in South Vietnam, then our other problem is Indonesia. It is a problem we can do nothing about as we watch every morning in Singapore from our office windows, but one hopes that somehow or other some sense and coherence will emerge by men other than Communists in control. If they go -- and that is another problem, whether they will or not, what happens when the President retires or is not there -- then I see the position over a period of years will become untenable. Because if you have your one natural non-Communist base at the same time attacked ideologically by a successful revolution by people akin to themselves just across the water 200 miles away at the same time as the other side is already under heavy ideological and other pressures from their ideological homeland, then the position is untenable.
Why people like me try, I do not know, but perhaps I do know. I do not believe the battle is lost. I do not believe anyone can foresee what more foolish things may happen besides just the Sino-Indian conflict, and nobody really knows the shape of things to come in Indonesia, even assuming the Indonesian Communist Party were ever to gain supremacy. But what we can see, and safely predict is that, assuming the outer regions, the periphery around us, is held non Communist, then once we form Malaysia the Communists are solidly contained, if for no other reason than by the stupidity of their own policies, of trying to introduce Communism into Malaysia through the immigrant element and presenting it to the indigenous element as an immigrant imperialism. That is basic analysis; it was valid when the Malayan Communist Party started their revolution in 1948, and they failed on its account. They are pursuing it in their open front policies and tactics, and they will continue to fail on this account. If I were a business man, I would think that Malaysia was pretty safe, but I am not a business man, and I am only interested in Malaysia in order to make it safe for myself.
Sir Esler Denning
May I comment on the Prime Minister’s last remark, that if the periphery became Communist Malaysia would become untenable. Might it not be the case that, if Malaysia became a success, the position of the Communists in the periphery would become untenable? It would depend which happened first, of course.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
Well, it would help, I think, in augmenting the will to resist. Now, if a non-Communist system, or an anti-Communist system, did succeed in making the country more prosperous, in providing a better life for its people, then it is bound to increase the will to resist. The greatest danger in South-East Asia -- as in many other parts of the world -- is that the battle is lost by people, because the people who could lead and fight the battle do a little bit of arithmetic and decide that the odds are not worth taking and therefore never lead to fight the battle. But I do not think Malaysia being a success -- unless, of course, it begins to give material and physical aid to its peripheral neighbours -- can make a direct physical improvement in the outer regions. To begin with, of course, there is this problem that all our neighbours are bigger than ourselves, with Malaysia having 10 million as against 24 million Burmese and 26 million Thais and 19 million Indonesians, which President Sukarno is very much aware of.
Mr. R.M. Govan
Mr. Prime Minister, is it correct that there is going to be a Referendum in Singapore on the subject of Malaysia? If so, when is it likely to take place, and how do you think it is going to turn out?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
Well, yes, it is correct that there will be a referendum in Malaysia. When will it take place? My enemies would very much like to know. All I can say is, at the appropriate time. How is it going to turn out? I think exceedingly well to the discomfiture of my enemies, because I do not intend to ask foolish questions, for I was told when I was very young, that, if you ask foolish questions, you will
get foolish answers.
Mr. Brian Crozier
Will you tell us, Mr. Prime Minister, what you think of the Philippines claim to North Borneo? Do you think it has any bearing on the future of Malaysia?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
I think the claim is fanciful. I wish them well, and I am quite sure that there are appropriate tribunals like the Permanent Court of International Justice with men qualified to adjudicate on this claim, and I am quite sure the lawyers will make a good job of it at tremendous public expense to the Philippines and the Federation of Malaya Government -- well, I hope the British Government, not the Federation Government, because they have got to give us a clean title if nothing else. Would it make any difference? I think none whatsoever. The Filipinos are on extremely cordial terms with the Tengku and have every intention of maintaining cordiality.
Sir John Hay
May I ask the Prime Minister if he will enlarge on his observations about one-man-one-vote?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
Yes! There are vagaries about the system of one-man one vote which I think makes it an extremely hazardous system to run anywhere in the underdeveloped and the under-educated world. I think it is a hazardous system to run anywhere, as people who are in charge of the electoral machinery of major political parties here may well agree. We are not exceptional, we are neither more intelligent nor better-educated than many of our neighbours. We have been more fortunately endowed and enjoy a better standard of living, but I do not think the basic factors are materially different. Where the majority of your population is semi-literate, it responds more to the carrot than to the stick, and politicians at election time cannot use the stick, so this leads to a situation where he who bids the highest wins. At a time when you want harder work with less return and more capital investment, one-man one-vote produces just the opposite. The offer of more return with less work ends up in bankruptcy. I would say that but for the enormous prestige of Mr. Nehru and the quality of the leadership at the very top around him, I do not think it would have worked in India either. It is not for me to say what is likely to happen in India in the next decade -- Mr. Nehru cannot go on forever. But I do not think it is a coincidence that it has flopped in Pakistan, did not succeed in Burma, nearly came to grief and is already in severe difficulties in Ceylon which was the model of peaceful transfer of power from a governed to a governing nation. It has been abandoned, decried and condemned in Indonesia, and it is not held in esteem anywhere is Asia. It is not a tradition with the Malays nor with the Chinese to count heads; it has always been to listen to the dicta of the elder. Mind you, I think it will endure in Malaya for some time, but, for how long, I do not know. I should imagine that with every passing year there will be mutations made on the system in order to make it still work. We all know that barely five months ago the Tengku brought in several basic amendments to the Constitution, a Constitution drafted by five eminent jurists from the five Commonwealth countries. They settled in Rome and drafted what was jurisprudentially a sensible and an elegant Constitution -- but it was not going to work. Very wisely, the Tengku decided that he would change bits and pieces. It was my unfortunate burden to attend a Law Society dinner shortly after that in the University, and here a somewhat idealistic President of that Society decried the fact that the Tengku had already moved 137 amendments, namely more amendments than there are articles in his Constitution! Gratuitously
I defended the need for making something work even if it meant departing from my norms; and I should be surprised if in the course of the next five years there are not as many amendments as there were in the last five years.
Sir Andrew McFadyean
May I follow up that question with a supplementary? One-man, one vote has broken down already in various ex-territories of the Commonwealth -- of the Empire. It has been succeeded in those cases by military dictatorships. You will not, I imagine from what I know, in Malaysia face the danger of a military government, but how are you going to secure a smooth transition from a system which will not work (I would agree there) in an illiterate -- large illiterate -- country ? How are you going to secure a smooth transition to something else which will not involve autocratic government?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
I do not think it is quite true to say that the system of one-man one-vote has been abandoned. Parliamentary government has been abandoned, but it has not necessarily been followed by a military dictatorship. I mean President Nkrumah is not a military dictatorship. He was no general of any army
Sir Andrew McFadyean
Pakistan, Sudan ...
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
Yes, true -- Pakistan, Sudan, Burma, but Indonesia is not a military dictatorship; the President just decided one morning with the support and concurrence of the executive powers of the State that the Legislative Chamber should be dissolved and that power should be vested among those who were competent to exercise that power. But I do not think the proposition that it must be followed or superseded by a military dictatorship is valid, because I do not think it is. What I think is valid as a general proposition is that the system of cutting up the country in accordance with the number of adult citizens of given proportions, to elect representatives who then elect amongst like-minded people a Cabinet which then elects a primus inter pares amongst the Cabinet, is one which presupposes so many basic conditions which are often non-existent, that I do not think it will ever work. They have all been superseded by systems which give power effectively to one man or a group of men for an indefinite period. Government to be effective must at least give the impression of enduring, and a government which is open to the vagaries of the ballot-box -- when the people who put their crosses in the ballot-boxes are not illiterate but semi-literate, which is worse -- is a government which is already weakened before it starts to govern. I say this with no desire to explain away my problem: if I were in authority in Singapore indefinitely, without having to ask those who are governing whether they like what is being done, then I have not the slightest doubt that I could govern much more effectively in their own interests. That is a fact which the educated understand, but we are all caught in this system which the British -- I donot know what the French do in their colonies in Africa -- export all over the place hoping that somewhere it will take root. India is still working it, but I think that but for the enormous prestige of Mr. Nehru and the momentum of the independence movement -- the Congress movement -- it would not have endured.
It would not have carried on for so long, and certainly would not have produced the results which in fact it has. But, in every country where it has been supplanted, the tendency is towards more -- I would not say autocratic -- centralised power; and power which is not open to question in the way the system one-man one-vote opens it at frequent periodic intervals. I do not know what the answer is, and I would hate to commit myself on what I think the answer is for Malaya, but I am pretty sure that there must be amendments to the system in order to continue to provide effective government in Malaysia. I think that when it happens, as I am sure it will within the next ten years -- I think it is necessary, it has got to be done -- there will be changes in Malaysia, otherwise it will lead to perdition, or, what is worse, the taking over of the organs of the State by soldiers who are not necessarily the best-equipped people to look after the administration of a country. When it does happen you will perhaps remember that it is not the first time -- nor will it be the last time -- that the British parliamentary system, when planted on ground that is not suitable, does not take root.
Mr. D. Sington
I should like to follow up on that and ask the Prime Minister to be a little more specific. I am not quite sure whether the misgivings he expressed about democracy are base d upon his belief if the wrong people get elected, or on his conviction that after they are elected, they are not able to carry on with their jobs. If it is the former, this would appear to be a contradiction, because he himself achieved power through democratic election. If it is the second, it would be very interesting to hear his exposition; in what way has his work been impeded by parliamentary democracy?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
I would say without the slightest hesitation that it is not the first, and I would not put the second point quite in the way that Mr. Sington has done. Effective government, as I envisage it, in an underdeveloped situation means a government that must improve investment rate, that must demand more effort for less return over a sustained period -- certainly more than five years. If you can make the demand for a period of two years, produce the results after the fourth, have the results enjoyed by the fifth, then all is well. But, unfortunately, the process of economic growth is a much more slow and painful one, and neither five nor ten years is an adequate enough period for the demands that you make on a population to be felt and enjoyed by the population. Therefore, the result would be -- unless you had exceptional leadership and exceptional circumstances as in the case of India, where there is no doubt as to the dedication and the ability of the leadership at the top, where the momentum of the independence movement, plus the inherently stable character of the Hindu society, has prevented a sudden upset of the whole social structure of society. But in many cases political leaders have got to yield to forces around and beneath them, and the answer always (unless you have a super-human group of leaders) is to take the solution which is least painful. Therefore the least painful solution is not to make undue demands on your population, to slide over the fact that not to do sois not to increase investment rate and not to jack up your society or there is never any chance of taking office. Then you are competed against by people who not only promise not to maintain the investment rate but positively promise to spend what there is in the kitty, and, you have three or four terms, and an electorate sufficiently naive to believe that these things can be done, and you break the bank, as the Indonesians have done. They had very little in the bank to begin with; everybody promised that if he came in whatever there was in the bank would be for the people, and they came in; the bank was broken anyway, and that was the end of it. I say that there is an inherent defect in working that system when one has to engage on a protracted period of economic growth; and I say that if you had worked this one-man one-vote in England in the Eighteenth Century you would never have got your industrial revolution. You cannot get your coal miner to say he is going to put in more effort for less in order to build the industrial sinews of the State. As many of my former colleagues (those who have gone over to the Communists) told me last year: ‘If Mao Tse-Tung had to stand for election today he would lose his deposit’. There is no doubt about it, and nobody makes any pretence about it. You can govern as long as the organs of the State are effective and obedient and as long as the intelligentsia is with you. The intelligentsia is with Mao and he will continue to govern, but if he asked for a popular mandate, that is not possible. Who can do it apart from Mr. Nehru I do not know.
Mr. K. Younger (Chairman)
I wonder if the Prime Minister would care to say something about thetrading future, the commercial future, of Singapore, or whether this is too
speculative a matter to talk about.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew
I would be happy to talk about that, because I think the trading and industrial future of Singapore is promising. The only thing which at the present moment is held against Singapore is: (a) political uncertainty and (b) industrial instability. The political uncertainty we can do nothing about until there is Malaysia, because there is no finality until you are independent, and as long as you are in a state of semi-independence the ferment will continue. Industrial stability will come after political certainty has been brought about, and, provided the United Nations experts who are supposed to advise the two governments in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore can provide a formula which will satisfy the Federation that in a common market not all industrial development will take place in Singapore, then you will have a situation where, first, we enjoy our present status as a free port, and secondly, we have in certain categories of manufactured goods a common market with the Federation and with the Borneo territories. In other words, a factory set up in Singapore with all the advantages of sea, rail, road and air transport for men, materials and the delivery of manufactured goods,has got the whole of the Malaysian market, and the Indonesian market such as itis. The Federation’s reluctance to give us a common market -- which they have not given to Penang; Penang is a free port, but Penang has not got a common market with the Federation, because being a free port any manufactured article from Penang is taxed when it enters the Federation -- is because the natural advantages to Singapore would be so great that all hope of industrial development in Kuala Lumpur and the other places where they are hoping to stimulate industrial development will completely disappear. We sympathise with their view in not wanting to allow us to take over the industrial potential of the whole of Malaysia, and I think some solution must be found whereby certain types of industrial development will have to be reserved for the Federation, industrial development connected with rubber, for instance, connected with iron, or hydro-electric power, but otherwise I would say that Singapore is a pretty good place to put money in, for as long as South-East Asia lasts. How long that will last, I do not know and nobody knows -- I mean, as long as the world lasts free.
Mr. Kenneth Younger (Chairman)
It only remains for me to thank the Prime Minister very much on your behalf for the most interesting talk which he has given us, and the comments he has given in reply to questions. I think there has been a big change here in the last year or so, at least outside the very limited circles which have always followed events closely in South-East Asia, in that the whole concept of this merger is something quite new, something which as recently as eight or nine months ago one was not even sure was going to receive support from this end.But I think there is very little doubt there is very great sympathy for the point of view that has been put forward by the Prime Minister and for the efforts he is making, and, if I may say so, great admiration for the way in which he is tackling exceedingly difficult problems. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have had him with us today.