He was not, writes Dalrymple with gentle understatement,
universal approbation is not an appropriate goal for a politician.
fell far short of despotism.
Like many politicians brought up
in the twilight of empire, he both admired and disliked the colonial power.
Lee recalled admiringly
the way evening newspapers were piled in the street in London and people paid for them by leaving their money without any compulsion to do so and without ever stealing what others had left. This, he thought, was a well-ordered and disciplined society.
The achievements of Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew are incontestable
He had the pleasure
of being able to reverse the flow of moral example, and of seeing the former colonial power, which had always prided itself on its moral, intellectual and political superiority, sunk in terminal decline and decadence.
which had grown more or less organically from the country’s history, Singapore’s had to be brought about by stern and some would say oppressive legislation.
The efficiency with which the city-state is now administered
is one of the reproaches against Lee; it now seems almost intimidatingly tidy and well-organised, with little scope for the free expression or the crookedness of the timber from which Kant thought that mankind is made, and in which he delighted.