SUCCESSFUL ASIAN LEADER SAYS MICHAEL MANLEY – “RUINOUS” – professionals felt there was no future


Lee Kuan Yew views on Jamaica and the 1970s Socialist administration of Michael Manley.

“At Kingston, Jamaica, in April 1975, Prime Minister Michael Manley, a light-skinned West Indian, presided with panache and spoke with great eloquence. But I found his views quixotic. (Definition: Exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical) He advocated a “redistribution of the world’s wealth.” His country a well-endowed island of 2,000 square miles, with several mountains in the center, where coffee and other sub-tropical crops are grown. They had beautiful holiday resorts built by Americans as winter homes… One Sunday afternoon, when Choo and I walked out of the barbed wired enclosure around the hotels used for the conference to see the city on foot, a passing car came to a halt with the driver shouting, “Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee wait for me.” A Chinese Jamaican, speaking Caribbean English came up. “You mustn’t forget us. We are having a very difficult time.” He gave me his card. He was a real estate agent. Many professionals and businesspeople had left for America and Canada and had given him their homes and offices to sell. He had seen me on Jamaican Television and was anxious to speak to me. Chinese, Indians and even black Jamaican professionals felt there was no future under the left-wing socialist government of Michael Manley. The policies of the government were ruinous…. Thereafter, I read the news of Jamaica with greater understanding.” – – – Lee Kuan Yew — Page 364, From Third World to First The Singapore Story: 1965-2000

Lee Kuan Yew is the founder of modern Singapore and the so-called minister mentor of a government led by his eldest son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The elder Mr. Lee led Singapore for 31 years and is credited with turning a resource-poor, malarial island into a modern financial center with one of the world’s highest per capita incomes.

A British-educated lawyer, he became prime minister in 1959 when the city-state gained its independence from Britain as part of the Federation of Malaysia. At that time, according to Mr. Lee, the country had “less than $100 million in the kitty.” Expelled from the Malaysia in 1965, partly over disagreement over the federation’s pro-Malay policy (three quarters of Singapore’s population is of Chinese descent), the country under Mr. Lee’s leadership built up its wealth to a considerably larger sum. As of 2009, Singapore was assessed to have sovereign wealth funds of between $200 billion to $300 billion – a substantial indicator of the country’s progress. – New York Times



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3 responses to “SUCCESSFUL ASIAN LEADER SAYS MICHAEL MANLEY – “RUINOUS” – professionals felt there was no future

  1. Delano,

    I happy to see that you have gotten around to reading this book. I had posted this very same excerpt out of Chap 22: The Commonwealth Club, to Garfield Grandison (Gleaner Editor-in-chief) about 3- 3 1/2 years ago. It appears it has taken some time for ‘movers and shakers’ like yourself to get around to it.

    Of note, that is only a small side-story in the whole book. I would hope that the extensive list of REAL accomplishments and his views on strict governance, low corruption, no subsidies, limited unions and business growth made a deep impression on you.

    As the next generation of Jamaican leaders, you must turn 180 degrees from where your party and the PNP are currently taking all of us. You cannot beat the PNP at their own game and clearly continuing free healthcare, free education, and increasing PATH recipients to 500,000 will not get us anywhere, but further hardship for the masses (clearly not you and your elite class). As Lee Kwan Yew said. I created a “FAIR” state and NOT a ‘welfare’ state.

    If the JLP does not counter with capitalist policies, as a true opposing view to the PNP, I shudder at what my grandchildren will have to pay in the years to come. I am not hopeful though, as each parties lust for power will win out in the end and the people will continue to be hopeless, looking to ‘massa’ for bread.

  2. JB

    Jamaica was on a good path during the first 10 years of Independence. We grew on average 6 % per cent per annum and at the time was the fastest growing developing country in the world. Our currency was worth more than the US and, in time, if we had continued what we were doing we would have been able to tell the same story as Singapore. Unfortunately that all came to an end by 1972 and we have not been able to recover since. So sad!!

  3. It’s unarguable that Jamaica’s most prosperous period of growth under an administration post independence was the first 10 years. Jamaica grew at 1.8% in 1967, 5.7% in 1968, 5.6% in 1969, 12.1% in 1970, 2.5% in 1971 and 18% in 1972. Following this we plunged into depression from 1973 to 1980. But there’s another side of the coin.

    At the same time that Jamaica’s GDP was growing in leaps and bounds under the Shearer (and Bustamante) led JLP, the gap between the richest and the poorest was growing probably even faster, unemployment didn’t move, poverty didn’t move, the standard of living of the average Jamaican barely budged. It was a clear cut case of the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. The government at the time was so obsessed with the attraction of investment that they deregulated on a massive scale, pretty much allowing multinational corporations to come in and take advantage of our workers as they wanted. Yes, Jamaica’s output was growing, and fast. But it wasn’t benefiting in any great way the average Jamaican. Corporate profits were jumping and soaring, but not so was the wealth of the poor.

    That’s why I think Michael Manley was so much needed for Jamaica. Not that he did too much unbelievably good for the economy, but because he put a stop to it the previous model. If it weren’t for his socialist experiment we’d probably have continued the pattern of deregulation and desperate ‘industrialization by invitation’ and continued to sell out our workers and our pride to imperialists and multinational corporations.

    Did you know that Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela weren’t exactly impressive for their countries economically. The South African economy stagnated under Mandela and the UK economy grew much slower under Churchill during his post-war term than it did under his socialist predecessor Clement Attlee. But they are revered for other reasons. That’s why Manley is so loved, Because he brought about the social revolution that was so needed to give Jamaicans, particularly the poor black majority, a sense of hope and worth and he stopped the road of investment at all cost and sucking up to imperialism which existed from 1962 to 1972.

    Don’t get me wrong now. I can also give a few paragraphs on why Shearer was so necessary for us also. Hugh Shearer and Michael Manley were Jamaica’s 2 best Prime Ministers in my opinion, but for nearly opposite reasons.

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