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LEE Kuan Yew




LEE Kuan Yew

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

The Public Orator Professor Dafydd Meurig Emrys Evans, LL.B., B.C.L., wrote and delivered the following citation:

For many new nations, emergence from colonial rule and the path towards mature state-hood has frequently meant a period of political uncertainty during which inherited forms of political organization and attitudes are tried and found wanting in the face of new national problems. The process of evolving a sound government, capable of responding to the changing and challenging needs of its people and of resisting the divisive and destructive forces both within and without the body politic is often a dreadful travail. The path to statehood for Singapore has not been easy but, in the few short years of its independence, this new nation has weathered successfully the political storms which attended its birth. Not only has Singapore achieved a remarkable maturity in a very short space of time but it has also recorded an impressive transformation in its economy. Mr. Chancellor, with the name of Singapore and with its emergence as one of the economically and socially stable nations of Asia must be associated the name of one man, Lee Kuan Yew.

The story of Singapore since 1954 is very largely also the story of Lee Kuan Yew for, in that year, he emerged as the driving force behind a new political organization which eventually secured independence for Singapore. We can, however, see in his early life a preparation for the role he was later to play. First and foremost a Singaporean, his family having been in Singapore almost as long as Singapore has existed, he long desired to see an independent Singapore and was always conscious, during the period when he was receiving his education abroad, of the role which he would have to play as a 'returned student'. After a brilliant record as a student both in Singapore at the Raffles College before the Second World War and at Cambridge after it, Lee Kuan Yew returned to Singapore in a lawyer. Politics swiftly became his life and he was the natural choice as a national leader. He steered his party through a time of political uncertainty and change and served Singapore well at a time when her progress was threatened by internal dissension. When in 1959 his party secured a majority of seats in Singapore's new, fully elected legislature, he became the first prime minister. A dedicated protagonist of a united Malaysia, he survived the break up of the Federation of Malaysia with a determination to lead Singapore to full independence and sovereignty. This was achieved in 1965 and since then he has led his country to a new position of respect and influence in Asia. But, in assessing and appreciating the worth of Lee Kuan Yew as a statesman, we must also recognize the value to the Commonwealth of his wisdom and candour.

Mr. Chancellor, as an acknowledgment of the role of Lee Kuan Yew in creating a new Singapore, independent and self-confident in the face of enormous internal and regional pressures, and in leading his country to the threshold of a new prosperity, I respectfully request you to confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

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