‘I have a bust of him’: Charlie Munger on why he admires Singapore’s first prime minister

26-Feb-2021 Intellasia | Yahoo Finance | 7:31 AM Print This Post

Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) vice Chair Charlie Munger further detailed his deep admiration for Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who governed for three decades.

“There aren’t that many people like Lee Kuan Yew who ever lived,” Munger responded to a question about why the legendary investor admired the Southeast Asian politician at the Daily Journal Annual Meeting on Wednesday. “So of course I admire him. I have a bust of Lee Kuan Yew in my house. I admire him that much.”

Munger reiterated his praise for the nation’s founding leader for his deft stewardship of the city-state.

“Lee Kuan Yew had the best record as a nation builder,” Munger explained. “He had the probably the best grade record that ever existed in the history of the world. He took over a malarial swamp, with no army… And pretty soon, he turned that into this gloriously prosperous place.”

Furthermore, Munger added, “his method for doing it was so simple. He said, ‘Figure out what works and do it.’ Now it sounds like anybody would know that made sense…. he was a very smart man, and he had a lot of good ideas and he absolutely took over a malarial swamp and turned it into modern Singapore in his own lifetime. It was absolutely incredible.”

‘Just so good’

Later on during the programme, he also praised the leader’s son, current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, “who is a bright man.”

But ultimately, Lee Kuan Yew “was just so good,” Munger gushed, noting that Lee Kuan Yew rooted out corruption “and there’s hardly anything he touched he didn’t improve” from health care to national savings.

Under decades of Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, Singapore transformed itself from a British outpost into a global trade and finance giant.

From unemployment in the double-digits and a relatively meager GDP per capita of $516 at the time of its independence in 1965, the country has been hailed as a success story by economists and politicians alike, and today boasts a GDP per capita of nearly $61,000.

The country recently came under scrutiny for its use of a contact-tracing system that was developed to address the spread of COVID-19.

The TraceTogether app and device, launched in March last year, would be used to trace those who had come into contact with COVID-19-affected residents and was framed to the public as a way to collect information that wouldn’t be passed on to authorities unless it’s regarding contact tracing.

But when it was revealed in parliament in January that Singapore police could use the data for criminal investigations, an uproar followed, prompting one journalist to call the country a “quasi-authoritarian democracy.”

The government has since walked back usage of the data unless regarding investigations of serious offenses, Yahoo News Singapore reported.



Category: Singapore

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