awards

Hon. Henry A. Kissinger
Rabbi Schneier and the Prime Minister, the Appeal of Conscience Dinner is always exciting. When I heard the introduction of me that Mr. Schwarzman made, I thought he would wind up with giving me credit for what had been accomplished in Singapore. (Laughter) So I think thank him for his generous introduction, and I thank Rabbi Schneier for inviting me here to introduce the prime minister of Singapore.

Singapore is, as has already been pointed out, an extraordinary country. In a world in which the relationship among various convictions and among various people. It’s such a central point, a small island existing, surrounded by very big countries. The only similar situation is that of Israel. Singapore was created by being expelled from Malaysia of which it was a part because it was too difficult to handle, and the father of the prime minister, one of the great men of this period, Lee Kuan Yew, was in a position to organize an island with no financial resources, with no natural resources, with no identity as a state, and he took on this task, and he said in effect, “The only hope I have is the quality of my people.”

But his people were divided. They were 70 percent about Chinese and the rest were Indians, Malays that had been in the period prior to independence, fighting bitter battles against each other. So, Singapore was created by an act of faith and by the education of its people. From an apparent vacuum it was an astounding achievement. When Singapore was created, the per capita income was $600 per person. The per capita income now is 60,000, and the people were given faith in themselves by developing domestic colleges in which they could prove themselves from situation to situation starting with some basic indices.

So, Singapore today is an extraordinarily modern country. When Lee Kuan Yew retired from his position, there were some intermediate prime ministers before his son, who is here with us today, took over. And in this period, he doubled the per capita income, and he created advanced institutions for science and technology because he followed the principles that Singapore always has to be the leader in its region intellectually as well as materially. It is a leader in policies of the environment and similar activities.

So it was first by giving this population a faith in itself that it developed a faith in its society, and then with a size of a medium-sized town by modern standards, it became an extraordinary influence in foreign policy, and it did that as Steve Schwarzman has explained by developing a public service of extraordinary quality with the strictest rules against corruption, and it did so by developing views of the international situation that were relevant to that of big countries.

When the Singapore ministers, especially the prime minister, arrive in Washington, they’re always received by the president and not just as a courtesy but in order to get a better understanding of the issues in their part of the world. From the very beginning Lee Kuan Yew followed by his son have taught us what it is like to live as a little country in a region which is composed of very major countries, China, India and countries like Indonesia with also a very substantial size so that the ability to conduct a foreign policy of a cooperative nature.

We in this country know that Singapore is basically a friend of the United States and that it has always believed that a balance of power has to be established in theregion, but we’ve also known that its skill in conducting a foreign policy vis-à-vis China, India and the others of the world of that region contributed enormously to the stability. As Steve Schwarzman has pointed out, they’ve studied these issues carefully and well, and so it is always a pleasure to welcome the prime minister of Singapore.

I’ve had the good fortune of knowing the family for most of my public life, and I’ve always believed that their contribution to peace and stability in Asia, the efforts they make to create a modern state and their success in that can be an inspiration to their neighboring countries to create an intellectual partnership and an economic partnership so that the issue of pure military power is not at the forefront. But I may say also that Singapore has made it clear that even with its limited resources, it will fight for its independence and for its national interest.

So, in a world which is torn by limited national interest and by manipulation of the domestic process, Singapore has contributed enormously to peace and stability, and so it is my great honor and privilege to introduce the Prime Minister of Singapore and to congratulate him on receiving this World Statesman Award.
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