23 March 2015
ASME sends condolences on passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Association of Small and Medium Enterprises
The Executive Council, Members and Staffs of Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), grieve the loss of Singapore's founding Prime Minister. Mr Lee Kuan Yew led Singapore, with people as our only resource, through difficult early years and transformed our country into the vibrant and successful nation we are today.
The former Prime Minister, Senior Minister and Minister Mentor has stood Singapore in good stead, building the nation’s foundation on solid ground. Pre-1965 saw him and his team working relentlessly through a tumultuous political period to witness the birth of a new country. From the merger, then separation from Federation of Malaya, to finally an independent republic, he worked alongside a team of equally dedicated and determined pioneers who forged ahead to build a better future for the next generation of Singaporeans. They would eventually form the first Cabinet and Mr Lee, the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore.
Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
(i) Free Trade
With the groundwork laid for construction, Mr Lee and the government began to build upon it the very beginnings of Singapore. He enforced the free trade port policy that enabled a relatively small and young nation with a highly favourable geographical location to quickly establish a focused and international trading point that allowed local small and medium enterprises to have strategic and competitive advantage over market adversaries.
(ii) Political Stability
The nation also enjoyed political stability that has been conducive for investors and investments in local businesses, with great proliferation of manufacturing plants being set up on the island, which led to small supply chains providing the necessary supplies to multi-national corporations and manufacturing companies. This was credited to the rule of law Mr Lee enforced at the very start of Singapore’s formation, leading to widespread knowledge and assurance of anti-corruption, which created an excellent enterprising ecosystem and environment for businesses to set up and thrive. Together with several astute lawyers and state officials, he drew up legislations to ensure sound government policies and thorough constitutions across the board. Along with his fellow ministers, he established and strengthened ties with various countries, international unions and groups, as well as initiated the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to untie ten neighbouring Southeast Asian nations in political and economic discussions that would benefit the growth of the region.
Discontented with the local economic market alone, Mr Lee had the foresight to reach out to foreign counterparts and extended working relationships with the countries and their respective leaders. Overseas ventures and thereafter, global expansion, was encouraged from the get-go, with international businessmen also seeking out Singapore as a business-friendly yet actively competitive market to enter.
Bearing a track record of trustworthiness and quality goods and services, Singapore soon amassed an extensive portfolio of foreign investments and investors, as well as merchants from diverse sectors and industries plying the Southeast Asian route, ultimately locating their headquarters on the island. At present, the nation enjoys the spoils of its forefathers, not forgetting the hard-earned peace and prosperity it has accumulated over the years.
Trials and Tribulations
The journey of nation-building was one fraught with difficulties and numerous obstacles, and Mr Lee and his team faced many setbacks in pushing for the ideal Singapore, striving to provide for the people, while simultaneously creating an identity its citizens could rally with. Nevertheless, they prevailed in their efforts, developing the nation socially, culturally and economically from its colonial past, rooted in the values of multiculturalism and meritocracy, to become one of the Four Asian Tigers. Many remarked in amazement at the rapid progress of a once fishing village, which would not have been possible without her visionary forerunners.
Mr Lee continued to be an impactful and influential figure in the region, with his distinctive leadership style of governing with an iron fist, displayed through his definitive, resolute and forward-looking decisions. Subsequently the little red dot advanced to the international platform, performing exceptionally on the world stage – Singapore was soon recognised for being a bustling financial hub, with excellent transport and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as a highly capable pool of human talents. Through his effective planning for the nation, Mr Lee helped shaped Singapore to her current status of success and stability and our achievements as a country are but the fruits of his countless contributions he has made.
Remembering Mr Lee
Few possessed the gumption like he did and despite the naysayers, Mr Lee remained steadfast in his duty, holding office as Prime Minister for three decades and continuing service until his retirement as Minister Mentor in 2011. In retrospect, Mr Lee selflessly devoted almost his entire life to form and develop the Singapore we have today. It is for his life’s work that SMEs in Singapore today can strive, prosper and compete successfully, whether at home or abroad.
Today we mourn his passing alongside the many people, whom lives have been affected by him in one way or another. For and on behalf of the Executive Council, SME members, Staffs of ASME, our condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family for the loss of his father.
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VALERIE WONG (ASME)
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