Thought-provoking quotes by prominent leaders in Singapore
As National Day comes around the corner, we relect on the wisdom of the nation's leaders.
Tan Su Yan
Halimah Yacob, current President of Singapore
“Whether openly or silently, I have always rebelled against attempts to define women. Women in politics are not spared … by all means disagree with her policies if you wish to, but don’t try to diminish her by trivialising her role because she is a woman … the lesson I have learned is to never let anyone or anything, define you as that means, seeding your choices to others and limiting yourself.”
An acceptance speech delivered at the main ceremony of NUS commencement, 2016.
“Looking at these photographs with a touch of imagination convinces me that these people made Singapore history and that without them and people like them Singapore would be a different place from what it is today. It is largely their anonymous history and not the grand histories of China, India, or Britain which made the Singapore we inherited.”
A speech made by S Rajaratnam at the official opening of the exhibition “A Vision of the Past” at the National Museum Art Gallery, May 14, 1987. Here he was commenting about a series of old photographs in the exhibit depicting ordinary Singaporeans.
“A Singapore of the future… [is] when you’ve got a deep core of the Singaporean identity that comes from respect, for each other’s cultures, [and] respect for each other as individuals, that’s not de-culturalised. It’s having the love for diversity. And that, to my mind, is the Singapore of the future.”
SG50+ conference with Tharman Shanmugaratnam in conversation with CNN host Fareed Zakaria, July 3, 2015.
Chew Gek Khim, executive chairman of Straits Trading Company
On the value of accountability:
“People always think they’re right but when you have to be transparent and accountable, it forces you to think: Is this really right? If you can’t explain your actions, then perhaps it’s not exactly right."
In an interview with The Business Times, adapted in The Peak, March 21, 2017.
Lee Kuan Yew, founding prime minister of Singapore
On how to get up when you’re down:
“There are moments, of course, when you feel very down. Either because you are physically down, or emotionally down, or because the world has stirred adverse against you. I think when you are in that condition, first thing you do is to get a good night’s sleep, then get a swim, or chase a ball, get the cobwebs out of your mind. I believe, and I have practiced this for all these years in politics, that if you’re not fit, you’re going to make mistakes… you must stay physically and mentally fit.”
Lee Kuan Yew interviewed by Harvard Kennedy School professors David Gergen, Ron Heifetz, Dean Williams, and John Thomas, October 17, 2000.