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From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000
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From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  3,027 ratings  ·  338 reviews
Few gave tiny Singapore much chance of survival when it was granted independence in 1965. How is it, then, that today the former British colonial trading post is a thriving Asian metropolis with not only the world's number one airline, best airport, and busiest port of trade, but also the world's fourth–highest per capita real income?

The story of that transformation is tol
Hardcover, 752 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by Harper (first published 2000)
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Appu In colonial times, Singapore was an entrepôt for the produce of British East Asia. Once the British left and Malaysia went its own way, Singapore had …moreIn colonial times, Singapore was an entrepôt for the produce of British East Asia. Once the British left and Malaysia went its own way, Singapore had nothing to export. Therefore Singapore repositioned itself as low cost but efficient base of manufacture for European, American and Japaneese MNCs. Also by improving infrastructure, it became a first world city right in the middle of the third world and became a centre of business finance and tourism (less)

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Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm surprised this book is translated into Vietnamese. He makes no effort to hide his distaste for communism and the Vietnamese leaders who came to him for advice in the 1990s. Whether you like the way he's ruled Singapore Inc., he's an amazingly intelligent guy with a far-sighted vision for where his country was going and has largely succeeded and outdone many leaders of the West. From his fascinating description of other Asian countries, including many that had similar starting point as Singap ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guy just seems to get everything right. Take all the good stuff in Ayn Rand and turn it into something that's actually workable, and that adds in the concept of fairness. LKY is able to examine the policies of all the other countries that came before Singapore and take what's good and leave what's bad. His policies on "welfare," healthcare, retirement savings, you name it, it seems to be the ideal solution for dealing with the inherent problems of each of those things. His personal savings ...more
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and well worth reading. The story itself is great: a small nation, isolated, forced to import even drinkable water, obtains (forced into) independence. Ah, yes, small detail: British Empire, protector and developer of this big port, is moving out. And China is willing to move in.
Question: what do you do?
Majority's response: cry and die.
LKY's: whatever is necessary to make it work.
Amazing, what a team of people honestly dedicated to their country and utterly pragmatic can do, no?
Lorong Cat
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dear Harry,

Thank you for your company during my daily lunch hour for the past couple of months. When I heave open the hard bound book that is the second volume of your memoirs, I feel as if I have been transported back in time to post-colonial Singapore. I have benefited from the peek into your early struggles and that of your colleagues Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye and Raja. I am intrigued by your account of The Plen (short for plenipotentiary), your moniker for Fang Chuang Pi, the mysterious
Henna Pääkkönen
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have always admired how Singapore has managed, in a short period of 30-40 years, to become the competent, rich and serious first-world country in the region where it sits, and wanted to learn more about the how.

Lee Kuan Yew's impressive and magnificent autobiography is a testimony of pride of the growth of the nation, written by its founding father, and covers the period from 1965 onwards (i.e. When the country separated from Malaysia and became The Republic of Singapore), i.e the period of 30
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the best books you'll ever read, period. Mr. Yew knows everything about how to build a prosperous country and nothing about political correctness. I'd never heard someone as accomplished as Mr. Lee describe with all honesty his dealings with super powers, heads of state and the common man.

If you're interested in learning how common sense, discipline and hard work can be combined to transform a country, you can't miss this book.
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
I had a great time reading what this great -and un-known to the West- leader wrote in this sort of memoirs book, and it was comprehensive too. It's not so much a memoirs book as his recollections of all things Singapore related during his long term in office. First of all, the book is easy and fun to read. That is the thing that most favorably surprised me, coming from a politician. It is sincere in tone, not ridden with sophistry or abstractions, but filled with common sense and expressed in a ...more
Michael Scott
+ very clear, high quality writing. A delight to read such an eloquent story!
+++ Very good book, excellent in many parts but annoying in its many propaganda parts. Excellent and lengthy analysis of China's leadership, policies, and issues, if more compassionate than that of Southeastern Asian countries.
+++ I finally understood how Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia and Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge were possible.
+/- Many politically charged statements, which makes the book difficult to assess object
Salem Lorot
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
When you read the history of a country's success through the lens of one of its foremost architects, it is a reading experience that is slow and deliberate. Lee Kuan Yew tries to show the progress of Singapore over the years since the formation of PAP, her intrigues, her politics, her successes. And in all this, his paintbrush extends to the geopolitics of China, Russia, Britain, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia.

This is how he ends the 691-page long memoir:

"The future is as full of promise as it is
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
He was:
A free market supporter who also didn't mind some government intervention.
A die hard anti-communist who also supported gun control and unique social policies
A proponent of the rule of law but one who didn't mind using the state to jail and bankrupt his opponents in long court cases.
A dedicated classical liberal who also was willing to institute the infamous anti-chewing gum law and hang drug smugglers.
A founder of the most successful multi-cultural state in Asia but one who also be
The Laughing Man
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly important handbook (especially for libertarians) that contains deep insights about Asian politics, especially the Southern part. The bits about China were also quite explanatory of the current situation and gave me critical knowledge about how to understand how China works. Lee Kuan Yew is a glorious personality, loved his intelligence, depth and intuitiveness that shows in his every remark and observation.

This man needs to be recognized all over the world especially in the Wester
Sam Cui
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very informative and insightful. Half the book explains the context and challenges LKY faced in the journey of transforming Singapore from a third world British colony into a first world leader. The second half dives into LKY's thoughts on countries around the world and their unique situations. An incredibly insightful book by one of the greatest leaders of the modern era. Highly recommend. ...more
Petr Didenko
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In my top10 ever. Full review: ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
finished this about 3 years ago. nothing but respect for this pragmatic, disciplined man.
Andrew Carr
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had been meaning to read this book for a while, and after hearing of Lee Kuan Yews worsening condition last week I finally pulled it off my shelf. I’m very glad I did.

To be a ‘great man of history’ you usually have to lead a large nation or embody a clear and significant culture or ideology. Lee Kuan Yew did neither, but he was no doubt, a great man.

Lee led a small city state, which both joined and left a larger federation in his time, and was nearly swamped by the much larger states on eithe
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favorite genre of books - an old man looks back on a life well-lived. I particularly enjoyed the recounting of his tussles with the western press and academia, and the dismantling of their sanctimonious attitudes towards Singapore’s version of a prosperous society. LKY might be dead, but Singapore is thriving and did not implode, contrary to what the “free” press liked to proclaim then (and still does). Not all systems are equal, and none universal. Each society must find its own way. Of the ...more
Deanne Dumo
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mr. Lee's memoirs first narrates how his team took the reins and built Singapore from scratch when the city-state was expelled from Malaysia in mid-1960s. His team was organized in crafting policies, such as targeting investments and building up key high-tech manufacturing industries, building up their defense capabilities, devising an efficient health care and housing system, promoting tourism through building up airport infrastructure and nurturing its national airline, improving tertiary educ ...more
Astrid Haas
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew (My Rating 3*)  This is a beast of a book with over 750 pages. I read it for three reasons: one I am totally fascinated by Singapore's development; secondly, I remember the national mourning that enveloped Singapore when Lee Kuan Yew passed away and so I wanted to understand more about his person; and thirdly, I have read that there are a good number of leaders of developing nations in the world today that use this book as their quasi-bible. I can defini ...more
Tulga G
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lee Kyun Yew was very visionary man with great intelligence, braveness and talent.
He founded the modern Singapore and changed it to one of the biggest economy country. There was no other country like Singapore where its leader had very big ambition to build the first world country from just an island, that is why his new methods and schemes for the development had been never tried before. His decisions in his prime time sounded like a cruel and hard one at that time, but from today's perspective
I found this book tremendously disappointing. (And since I am not Singaporean, I can say that.) I was looking for details regarding the development of HDBs, the removal of people off the river, the creation of the ideology of racial harmony. Instead, we get lots of moments of Lee congratulating his colleagues. Then, we get chapter upon chapter in which Lee offers his views of Singapore's geographical neighbors. Not terribly useful, as the nitty-gritty is, of course, omitted. (Myanmar, for instan ...more
Andriy Bas
One of the best books I read.
The philosophy of Lee Kuan Yew, who raised Singapore to one of the most successful countries is amazing!
I've never thought how hard politics is, how many variables you need to take into account, how long term the planning should be.
Also a great book to learn about how to build effective teams and achieve results.
Alexander Tarmolov
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
How to build a country from the scratch. Unbelievable story of unbelievable man. Must to read (at least first part of the book).
NJ Wong
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"From Third World To First" is an exciting read because we already know it has a happy ending. Singapore, the city state that no one in 1965 expect to make it, did, and become what others have called a country "that punches above its weight".

I have wanted to read this book when it was first published back in 2000. But it was constantly sold out. It was next to impossible to borrow from the library, and there was a long reservation queuing list. After that, several chapters were serialised in th
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One could consider the meteoric rise of Singapore after it gained independence from Great Britain in 1965 nothing short of a miracle. However, its economic growth was carefully planned over several decades by its first and far-sighted prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), and his carefully selected cabinet of economic and business development officials.

The book is divided into two parts: first, the history of Singapore as a British protectorate and South Asian entrepot, its brutal occupation by th
Ankur Vohra
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Singapore today has become a second name for development at least for the developing world countries like us in India. Every now and then we hear our politicians promising us to make another Singapore out of one of our cities. So, what is it that Singapore did right? and is it possible for us to do that here? I wanted to find out these answers, having traveled to the island myself couple of times myself, I knew Singapore was doing something special and exceptional but the exact reason of its suc ...more
A glimpse into a Cambridge-educated, economics-minded, personnel-obsessed statesman. This is his second memoir and includes stories of foreign relations.

His explanation for Singapore's bilingual policies is thus: If you can't speak English, you won't be able to find work and make a living. If you can't speak your native language, you'll lose your cultural identity, and hence your confidence, because no matter how well you speak English, you're not an Englishman.

He considers Hong Kongers to be dr
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being an Indian after reading every chapter the questions that came to my mind are

"Why couldn't we produce leaders and visionaries of this quality post 70's and 80's?
Are our systems that bad that we can never be able to achieve the social and economic development that Singapore has achieved? Or is it because of sheer coincidence that we could not populate our politics with world class leaders?
Why are we still grappling with most basic questions like poverty, housing, education, health, roads,
Adithyan I
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you are not remotely interested on either : Singapore, Politics (primarily south-east asian) or Lee Kuan Yew, then I recommend you stay from this book. You need to atleast have a prior interest in either of those topics to enjoy this book. Otherwise, it can become quickly boring.

That being said, I have always been fascinated with how a third-world country like singapore, with no natural resources, has managed to turn inself into one of the prosperous countries within one generation. I know th
Curious  Nomad
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
An inspiring account of how a colonial establishment with hardly any natural resource, torn by the imperial domination in world War to facing endless diplomatic obstructions post war can rise up under the supervision of a steadfast and bold figure to become a much sought after city state with an impressive record on many fronts. A model that grasped the attention of big players out there seeking to learn and apply the much valuable lessons that this little nation offered.

Lee kuan yew is certai
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
As you might hope from the title, this book delivers insight into, not only the mind of an extraordinary man, but also into the extraordinary success story of Singapore.

This is a book of two stories. The first is of the success of the social and economic policies which turned Singapore into the wealthy city-state it is today. As a somebody who has only ever known life in a liberal democracy, I found a lot of the restrictions on citizens that were imposed during Lee Kuan Yew’s his time as Prime M
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Lee Kuan Yew was born in Singapore in 1923. He was educated at Raffles College, Singapore and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, England. He was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, London, in 1950 and practised law in Singapore. He became advisor to several trade unions.

In 1954, he was a founder of the People's Action Party and was Secretary General up to 1992.

Mr Lee became Singapore's Prime Minister i

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