Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime Minister of Singapore, was a proponent of Confucianism. He attributed the success of The Four Tigers –
The Four Tigers, as we know, were most enviable in 1980s and early 1990s. In 1997, however, they were hit hard by Asian economic crisis. Until today,
Confucianism has contributed to the success of
Lee Kuan Yew is a Singaporean of Chinese origin. I am a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Unlike Lee, however, I am no fan of Confucius. While I like his call for filial piety, I also find many flaws in his teaching.
For example, Confucius dismissed rule of law. Instead, he advocated ‘Rule of People’. As a result of his teaching, Chinese have misplaced their trust on a long list of tyrants, such as The Great Helmsman. Rule of People is also an obstacle to democracy since average citizens don’t question their leaders.
Another weakness of Confucius’ philosophy is the emphasis of relationship, or “connections”. In modern day, this has led to nepotism or cronyism. Anyone who has started business in
If we look through her 5000 year-history,
South Koreans are also reluctant to buy imported goods. Prior to 1997 Asian economic crisis, foreign auto makers only sold a few hundred cars each year in
In the past few years Korean dramas have been very popular in
If Korean dramas reflect actual Korean society, one can immediately draw these conclusions:
(i) Korean society is hierarchical, and the wealthy people look down on their poor fellows.
(ii) Arranged marriage without the consent of the parties involved is still common.
(iii) Koreans cry a lot but seldom smile.
And surely Confucianism is to be blamed.
Lee Kuan Yew has been more visible recently. Some say he is trying to assist his son, current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. The senior Lee recently declared “the