Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew says minorities are better treated in the city-state than they are in the United States.
“Whether you are African or South American or Indian or Filipino or Chinese or Korean, etc., Americans will let you work for them,” Lee said at a dinner late Friday. “Of course you will not be the social equal of the whites.” The Associated Press received a transcript of Lee’s speech Saturday.
“Singapore has a Chinese majority, but whatever your race if you join us as citizens, we accord you equal rights and equal opportunities,” said Lee, who holds the title of minister mentor.
Lee, famous for his blunt talk, also claimed Singaporeans were better off than people in Hong Kong, whose future is “decided by China.”
His comments were part of a pep talk aimed at motivating Singaporeans born after the city-state gained independence in 1965, who he described as lacking “that fire in the belly.”
“If I were young in my 20s, Singapore is one of the best places to be in,” Lee said.
The Straits Times, which has close government ties, said Saturday Lee’s speech is likely a preview to the state of the union address due to be delivered Sunday by his son and Singapore’s new prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.
The younger Lee was sworn in as the country’s third prime minister last week, replacing Goh Chok Tong. His father was Singapore’s first prime minister and remains enormously influential.