Sept. 16, 2013 is Lee Kuan Yew’s 90th birthday.

Since it is near impossible to escape the influence of Lee Kuan Yew on the lives of Singaporeans, why not count the ways he might have found his way into our hearts and consciousness?


1. You think it is manly for a man to cry.



2. Only one other Harry we know has more impact than him in our lives.



3. He has a wax figurine at Madame Tussauds museum. And you don’t.

Madame Tussauds LKY

Source: Madame Tussauds Hong Kong


4. Because even the Queen loves him.



5. His deadpan humour.


In a 2000 BBC article about how Singapore’s ban on chewing gum will take a toll on creativity, that was LKY’s retort.

Typical dry British humour.


6. You wished you could also say this line: “My son takes after me, he became prime minister.”

Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook

When other normal proud fathers can only say: “My son takes after me, he has my eyes.”


7. You want to be someone that no one could ever sack — only you can sack yourself.


8. He thought that we could be Malaysians — luckily he was wrong.


You’ve never loved someone so much for being so wrong.


9. He was anti-colonialist.



10. He was an opposition politician before being in the opposition was cool.


Those glasses. More hipster than Chen Show Mao.


11. He supported UK’s Labour Party as a student — way before Oasis, Blur and Spice Girls told you “New Labour” was cool.


“To those who are still open to reason and argument, I say that if you value fairness and social justice not only to the people of Britain but also to the millions of British subjects in the colonies, return another Labour Government”. – Lee Kuan Yew, “If I Were An Englishman”, Speech at the UK’s Labour Party Rally during the 1950 British Elections.


12. He publicly confessed that he liked to drink and smoke.


Lee Kuan Yew said: “When I was in my 30s, I was fond of smoking and drinking beer.”

(If you know this single, you’re awesome.)


13. And he willed himself to give up smoking and drinking.


Lee Kuan Yew said: “The drinking gave me a beer belly and it was showing up in pictures appearing in the press.

“I quit smoking because it was causing me to lose my voice at election campaigns.”


14. He also thinks golf is a waste of effort.


Lee Kuan Yew said: “I began to play more golf to keep fit, but later on turned to running and swimming, which took me less time to achieve the same amount of aerobic exercise.”


15. He is telegenic.



16. You cannot help but feel Lee Kuan Yew is a great orator.



17. You admire his neutral accent.



18. He is generous as he pledged millions as donations.


Lee Kuan Yew made a personal donation of over $10 million to a fund that will be used for initiatives to help children learn both English and their mother tongue.


19. You also want to go overseas to study law and unlock your achievements.


Beat all the local students on their own turf — attained double First Class Honours in Law with a star for distinction from Cambridge University.


20. You wish you could have also married your first love.



21. Who was your equal.



22. And feel comfortable dating an older woman.


Kwa Geok Choo was three years older than Lee Kuan Yew.


23. He was not a hit with his girlfriend/ wife’s parents who did not approve of him at first.

LKY with cigarette

And then he became the prime minister of Singapore.


24. You want to be beyond reproach too.



25. You always felt having at least one friend from Drew & Napier is convenient.



26. You wished you could have kept at least one clean sheet.


Undefeated heavyweight champion, never lost an election.


27. You’ve always wanted your photobomb level to be 99,999.


28. He became a meme.

LKY meme


29. You wished you looked okay naked.


30. He made and sold glue for a living during war time. That’s cool.


Lee Kuan Yew helped to develop a glue based on tapioca, which he sold under the name Stikfas in Japanese-occupied Singapore during World War II. The logo was on his wedding cake.


31. He made his own rules.


The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act is a pretty nifty piece of work that understood thoroughly how the press works.


32. His well-being became the talk of the town.


The crowd cheered when they saw Lee Kuan Yew at the National Day Parade 2012 dispelling rumours that he was either dead or very ill.


33. In fact, he’s so famous, online rumours about his well-being gets reported on the Wall Street Journal.

Source: WSJ Online


34. No one thought the role of coincidence will be so strong in his life.


His political opponent passed away on Lee Kuan Yew’s 90th birthday, stealing a bit of his birthday thunder in the process.

Source: Amazon


35. He speaks English, Mandarin and Bahasa Melayu fluently.



36. You secretly always wanted a family with two sons and one daughter too.



37. You would give up an arm and a leg to wear that hat.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook

100 points to Gryffindor!


38. You wish you could also provoke someone to sue you and they won’t.



39. He thinks fiction is stupid.



40. But he admits to occasionally reading Tom Clancy books.



41. He has no qualms calling his colleague short and dumpy.

Heng Swee Keat

Heng Swee Keat, now Education Minister, was the best Principal Private Secretary I ever had. The only pity is that he is not of a big bulk, which makes a difference in a mass rally.”


42. You want to be a patriarch too.



43. He got Catherine Lim to write extensively about him.



44. He has a small group of friends he can trust personally and professionally.
What’s better than a close group of friends? A close group of friends who are as weird as you.


45. You really wouldn’t mind running your own country.


Imagine you own this. For a couple of years, at least.


46. He seared his name and being into the the public consciousness.


No matter where anyone turns.


47. He can still pull chicks one-fifth his age.

Madame Tussauds LKY and girl



48. He was a feminist before the feminist movement was cool.

LKY's quote


49. He learnt Mandarin when he was 32 years old. And he speaks better than most native speakers.



50. Only he can learn to speak Hokkien at 38 years old. To prove that he is not a potato-eater.


The first thing he said in Hokkien to a crowd: “Gin nah mai chio, wah beh oh” in Hokkien it means “kids don’t laugh, I want to learn.”


51. He knows how to have a good time.



52. He has a figurine made in his likeness. 


Source: Chris Treewizard

The creator hopes that he will be allowed to give nine figurines to Mr Lee on his 90th birthday.


53. He is Singapore’s best-selling author — besides Russell Lee.



54. He is always prepared because he was a scout in RI.



55. He supports local industries. 


Source: Source

He likes Tiger beer.


56. He planted more trees in Singapore than any other Singaporeans.



57. He rode a Tiger and won.


Source: Amazon UK

The Communist tiger, not a real one.


58. He is probably the only person who has attended every single National Day Parade since it began.



59. He helped TIME sell more magazines with his face on the cover. 

Time Magazine


60. He demonstrated what it means to be an engaged father.


Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook

He attended his son’s BMT Passing-Out Parade at 2 SIR, March 1971. Even when he most likely had a lot of things on his prime ministerial plate.


61. Because the holy trinity.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Goh

Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook


62. You wouldn’t mind having a school named after you.

Source: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (Official FB Page)

The Dean was tasked to build the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and not the Lee Kuan Yew School of Thought.


63. So good-looking that only Tony Leung can play him on screen.


Source: Mr Brown


64. He can be a pessimist, like many of us.

Pessimist meme
Source: Meme center

On his 90th Birthday: “I am lucky to reach 90”.

On his 80th Birthday: “I did not know that I would make 80 and am grateful to have led a relatively healthy, enjoyable and productive life.


65. He can look angrily at a team-mate (Lim Chin Siong) in sunglasses.

Source: PAP Facebook

Because he has the foresight to know that he will be an opponent in future.


66. He could turn into a zombie or vampire, if future leaders mess Singapore up.



Team Harry vs Team Edward, anyone?


67. You wonder how he cultivates this penchant for funny hats to run in the family.


Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook


68. He is agnostic.



69. He can wear the same jacket for years and no fashionista ever said it sucks.



70. You admire how his one life helped financed an entire cottage industry of book publishers/ writers/ translators.



71. When people create fake accounts for you.


It means you’ve arrived in life.


72. He can walk around shirtless. And it becomes part of mainstream broadcast.



73. He gets turned into a symbol.



74. He introduced a new catchphrase into our lexicon: Hard truths.



75. He debated with one of his fiercest critics in an international forum.

Who later said that he is “the world’s most intelligent, and to some most likable, despot.” (William Safire, February 15, 1999, Essay; The Dictator Speaks)


76. He was 35 years old when he became Singapore’s Prime Minister.

Source: Kim Kardashian
33-year old Kim Kardashian has one more year to surpass your record.


77. He was environmentally conscious, way before Greenpeace was formed.

Blue Windbreaker

On wearing the same wind-breaker, he once said: “Why should I throw something away which I’m comfortable with? I’m not interested in impressing anybody.”


78. He does not watch many films but he can write movie reviews better than most film critics.


“My Fair Lady, one of the best musicals on film, because the speech was perfect and the woman was very good because she could speak like a flower girl and she could speak like a duchess. And she could go back again and it’s code switch switching of a very high order.” (Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going)


79. He appreciated the short attention span of the Youtube generation.

And completed his General Election video in under 1 minute.


80. He has more FB fans than any other local politicians (except PM Lee). 


Even though he did not lift a finger to post anything on FB.


81. He likes plants.



82. He used to earn $3,500 a month as prime minister in 1970.


That was pretty normal. Except that some of his colleagues earned more than him, at $4,500.


83. Because Frank Sinatra.



84. Because this.




85. He likes to drink tea. That’s why he used to organise tea sessions for potential candidates.



86. He loves to travel. He’s been to half of the world.


And met more US presidents than we care to remember.


87. He doesn’t waver.



88. He admits to reading the obituary regularly. To see who he has outlived.


“At 89, I look at the obituary pages and see very few who have outlived me.”


89. He thinks Singaporeans are like pandas.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong Facebook Page

Because we don’t reproduce enough.

Lee Kuan Yew wrote in One Man’s View of the World: “Only the pandas are in a similar situation on the question of reproduction — and they do not have to worry about whether there are enough resources to ensure their seniors will be taken care of.”


90. Because there will be those who fancy him not so discreetly.


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