生命中最重要的價值是新加坡──《李光耀回憶錄》記者會

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1998 / 10月

文‧張瓊方整理



配合《李光耀回憶錄》出版,九月中旬,新加坡內閣資政李光耀在星島舉行了記者會,並接受電視台專訪,暢談出版回憶錄的心路。本刊自新加坡「聯合早報」摘錄部份內容,整理如下:

問:這本書對你個人而言,具有什麼特殊意義?

答:我花了差不多三年的時間敘述了我五怞h年的經驗。我寫這本書,是因為我有義務告訴我的人民,當時我為何做出那樣的決定、當時發生了什麼事、以及他們能從我的經驗中吸取怎樣的教訓。如果我寫的東西無法讓他們吸取有用的教訓,他們大可把書丟掉,不過,我相信我所寫的值得他們參考。

生命中最重要的價值

問:你認為你的書對年輕人有什麼價值?這是一本歷史書、一本課本,或者是在未來引導他們的書本?

答:如果這是本歷史書或者課本,那我就是在浪費時間。我沒有引述大批證據來支持我的論點,沒有註腳、沒有小小的段落說明來分散讀者的注意力,因為我要它是一本可讀的書,有所根據,而且所提供的啟示在今天仍然適用。

這本書將讓你作為一個依據,它不能引導你走向未來,但卻會提醒你一些潛在的危險、可能出現的困難。

我開始寫這部回憶錄是在一九九五、一九九六年間,那時還沒有發生區域危機,當時我以為年輕一代新加坡人總是把現有的一切看成是理所當然的。現在他們嚐到了經濟成長放緩的苦況,在新加坡還沒有擺脫區域危機的影響前,經濟情況可能還會惡化。

年輕人所缺乏的不是前進的動力,而是警惕心。我們雖然常常處在高峰,但情況可以在突然之間變得很糟,因此我認為這是很危險的。

問:你這一生中最驕傲的成就是什麼?哪一件事又是你最感遺憾的?

答:我生命中最重要的價值就是新加坡。而我對新加坡擁有現在這個能夠在過去八年裡,繼承我和我的同僚所做的政府,感到欣慰與驕傲。這不是件容易的事,我給新加坡留下一個有能力繼續運作下去的領導層,這幾乎和讓新加坡取得一九九○年時的成就一樣困難,或者也許更加困難。

什麼是最令人失望的呢?還是馬來西亞。如果當時事情的發展不一樣,也許今天在整個馬來西亞也都能取得同樣的成就,但是事情不是這樣,當初牌的疊法不一樣。

東西文化兼容並蓄

問:你出身在一個華人家庭,接受的是西方教育。一般認為你領導新加坡走上現代化是因為你接受西方教育,可是平時我們又看到你提倡要堅持東方的文化。要建設一個現代化國家,是不是必需要拋棄東方的文化,完全接受西方的文化?

答:這麼說吧,如果我不是一個在這樣的家庭培養出來的人,我的人生觀、價值觀會是不同的,那也沒有今天的新加坡。可是如果我沒有接受西方的教育,我看新加坡的進步不會這樣快。因為我完全瞭解他們的技術、他們的管理技能,各種各樣的工業社會的資源,可以選擇那些對我們有利的。

同時,我不是完全拒絕西方的文化,他們的文化也有他們的優點,可是他們現在社會所發展的趨勢,我完全不接受。那些福利制度一切免費,個人自掃門前雪,不理他人等,我覺得這對社會、國家沒有好處;但或許這是曇花一現的潮流。我很難說得清在我身上東西方影響的哪一個部份成就了今天的新加坡。

問:能否描述一下你與華社接觸的印象?

答:五○年代和六○年代的華社是很有活力的。因為中國剛起來,很多人認為中國一定會成為大工業國,所以覺得海外華人同樣會起來。

我跟他們接觸,我很讚賞他們很有活力、有認同感、有信心。不像當時的受英文教育者比較缺乏信心,因為他們學的語言不是自己的母語。

現在的華社對大環境具有比較客觀的看法。他們瞭解中國需要很長的時間才會變成現代化的工業國家,同時在海外的華人,我們的命運跟中國不完全一樣。每個華族族群都有自己的國家利益要照顧和保護。

以新加坡來說,我想華人的社會是比較實際的。比起其他東南亞國家也比較幸運,我們可以學習和使用華語,同時瞭解要保留華語和華人文化的精髓是重要的。沒有文化精髓,你會變成比較弱的人民。

與社會主義分道揚鑣

問:你是否真誠的信仰過社會主義?如果是的話,什麼原因讓你在社會主義運動在全世界都相當成功時改變想法?

答:我開始時是一片白紙,沒有政見,只想要過好生活,當律師。然後日本人來了,在三年半裡讓我相信槍桿裡出政權,早在毛澤東這麼說之前我就相信。當英國人回來時,他們重新佔據重要的地方。而我花了四年的時間在英國,那時艾德禮正在推行他的福利國制度,這影響了許多像我這樣的學生。那是多麼有人情味、多麼理性、多麼合理的社會制度。當我回來,並且在一九五九年成立政府時,我發現新加坡人並不是理想化的社會主義者。當時我也看到歐洲的福利社會正逐漸失敗,尤其是在英國,因為我們和他們保持較多的聯繫,我自己留意他們的發展。我在大學一起唸書的同學後來也當了工黨的部長,但是隨著時間的演進,我們分道揚鑣。

而最決定性的分裂點,是七○年代初期,我閱讀有關費邊主義的雜誌時,有一篇兩個校長的討論,認為解決學生不平等的方法,是讓最好的老師去教學習進度最慢的學生,因為聰明的學生可以自己照顧自己,那樣就可以建立平等的社會。他們是要顛倒上帝所做的事,我停止訂閱這份雜誌。如果我們照這樣做,新加坡早已完蛋。那就像你到高爾夫球練習場一樣,你讓最好的老師教最糟的學員,那些素質好的球員則由最笨的教練教,你永遠也不可能成為冠軍。

所以我認為,英國新一代的社會主義者,那些沒有得到他們所要的、通過平等機會取得社會平等的社會主義者,決定使大家的機會不平等,以得到相同的成績。在那個時候,我和他們分道揚鑣,我放棄了。

問:回憶錄下冊將在何時付梓?

答:我本來決定在今年九月同時出版回憶錄的上下兩冊,可是金融危機卻帶來很多新的難題。

當我在今年一月訪問曼谷,見到泰國受打擊的嚴重程度後,又見到印尼盾貶值劇跌到一萬七千五百盾兌一美元,覺得這次危機不會在短期內消失,我必需將最新的發展寫入下冊中,尤其是關於東南亞國協和他的前途的部份,以對局勢發表更平衡的看法。

因此我希望下冊能在明年五月寫完,然後在六月交給出版商和印刷商,並在九月分出版。

p.119

李光耀對新加坡的影響深遠,他的回憶錄等同新加坡的歷史。(法新社提供)

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Press Conference Accompanying the Release of Lee Kuan Yew's Memoirs

Edited by Chang Chiung-fang /tr. by Scott Williams


In mid-September, to accompany the release of his memoirs-The Singapore Story (published in Taiwan as Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew)-Singaporean Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew gave a press conference and a television interview in Singapore, in which he discussed his thoughts on the publication of the memoirs. We present an edited version of his remarks as selected by Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao newspaper. (Lee originally spoke in English. However, parts of the text of this article have been taken from the Chinese-language media and retranslated into English. They thus may differ slightly from Lee's original remarks.)

Question: What does this book mean to you?

Lee: I spent approximately three years writing of my experiences of the last 50 years. I wrote this book because I have an obligation to tell my people why I did these things, what took place and why they should take note of my experience. If my experience is irrelevant, throw the book away. I believe it is not irrelevant.

His greatest pride

Question: What value does your book have for young people? Is it a history book, a textbook or a guidebook for the future?

Lee: If it is a history book or a textbook, I've wasted my time. I didn't quote large pieces of evidence to support my points. I did not include footnotes or small explanatory sections which would have distracted the reader's attention. I wanted to produce a book which was readable. Everything I wrote about is documented, and its points are still applicable today.

This book provides you with a foundation. It cannot lead you into the future, but it can remind you of dangers which lay beneath the surface and the difficulties which may appear.

I began writing these memoirs in 1995 or 1996, before the outbreak of the regional crisis. At that time, I felt that young Singaporeans took the current situation [in Singapore] for granted. Now they have tasted slower economic growth. Until Singapore pulls itself out from under the influence of the regional crisis, things are going to get worse economically.

Young people don't lack motivation, they lack wariness. Although we were on top for a long time, there is always the possibility that things can take a sudden turn for the worse. I therefore feel this lack of wariness is dangerous.

Question: What is your greatest source of pride? What is your greatest regret?

Lee: The most important and valuable thing in my life is Singapore. I have been pleased and proud that over the last eight years the new Singaporean government has been able to continue the work of the government that my colleagues and I created. It was not an easy thing to do, but I did not leave Singapore without a leadership capable of carrying on the work. It was almost as difficult as achieving the success that Singapore has seen in the 1990s. Maybe it was more difficult.

My greatest regret is that Singapore was turfed out of Malaysia. If things were different, we might have achieved all this throughout Malaysia. But the cards were stacked differently.

Openness to both East and West

Question: You were born into a Chinese family, but received a Western education. Most people believe that the reason you were able to lead the modernization of Singapore was this Western education. At the same time, however, we frequently hear you exhorting us to hold onto our Eastern culture. In building a modern nation, is it necessary to abandon Eastern culture and totally Westernize?

Lee: How do I answer this? If I hadn't been raised by the kind of family I had, my world view and values would have been different, and today's Singapore would not exist. But, by the same token, if I had not had a Western education, Singapore would not have advanced so quickly. Because I was thoroughly familiar with their technology and management techniques, I could pick and choose from among all the different industrial societies for elements that were beneficial to us.

I don't reject Western culture wholesale. Their culture has its strong points. But I absolutely cannot accept the current trends in Western societies. A totally free social welfare system, the "looking out for number one" attitude. . . I feel these are of no benefit to the society or the nation. But perhaps these are just a passing fashion. It is difficult for me to state clearly whether it was the Western or Eastern influences in myself which created today's Singapore.

Question: Can you describe your impressions of your interactions with the Chinese community?

Lee: The Chinese community of the 50s and 60s was vigorous. China had just gotten onto its feet and many believed it would become an industrial powerhouse. They thus foresaw a similar resurgence among overseas Chinese.

When I met with them, I admired their vigor, their sense of identity and their confidence. In contrast, those people who had been educated under the British system had less confidence because they had been educated in a language other than their mother tongue.

Today's Chinese community is more objective in its views. They realize that China needs many years before it will be a modern industrial nation. Also, the fate of we overseas Chinese is distinct from that of the mainland. Every ethnic Chinese group has its own national interests to protect and care for.

In the case of Singapore, I think its Chinese community tends to be more pragmatic. We have also been more fortunate than the other nations of Southeast Asia. We can study and use the Chinese language, and we understand the importance of preserving the essence of the Chinese language and culture. If you lose this cultural core, you become weak as a people.

Splitting with Socialism

Question: Were you not at one time a ardent believer in Socialism? If so, why did you change your view of it when the Socialist Movement was at its international peak?

Lee: At the outset, I was a blank sheet. I had no political views and only wanted to have a good life, to be a lawyer. Then the Japanese came. In three and a half years, they made me believe that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Long before Mao Zedong said this, I believed it. When the British returned, they reoccupied the important locations. I then spent four years in England. At that time, Attlee was promoting his welfare-state system, which influenced a lot of students like me. It was such a compassionate and rational social order. When I came back and put together the government in 1959, I realized that Singaporeans were not ideal socialists. At the same time, I also saw the welfare states of Europe gradually failing. I paid particular attention to developments in Britain because I had more connections with them. People I had studied with at university had gone on to become heads of departments in the Labour Party. But as time went on, we went our separate ways.

The most decisive break came in the early 1970s. I was reading a Fabian magazine when I came across an article in which two school principals were discussing how to deal with the inequalities among students. Their solution was to have the best teachers teach the slowest students because the more intelligent students could take care of themselves. In that way, they thought they could create a society of equals. They wanted to undo God's work. I quit reading the magazine and canceled my subscription. If we had followed that method, Singapore would have been finished early on. It's like going to a golf practice range and allowing the best teachers to teach the worst students. If those students with the most talent get the clumsiest teachers, they will never become champions.

I think Britain's new socialists never got what they wanted. In effect, by legislating "equal opportunity" to create an egalitarian society, they decided to give nobody an equal opportunity in order to achieve equal scores. At that time, we went our separate ways. I gave up on them.

Question: When will the next volume of your memoirs be released?

Lee: I originally planed to publish both volumes at the same time, in September. But the Asian economic crisis created many new problems.

While visiting Bangkok in January, I saw the severity of the blow Thailand had suffered. Then seeing the Indonesian Rupiah devalue to 17,500 to the US dollar, I knew that this crisis was not going to go away quickly. I had to update the second volume to reflect these new developments, especially the chapters on ASEAN and its outlook, to give a more balanced view of the situation.

I hope to have these chapters revised by May of next year and to give it to the publisher and printers in June, so that it can come out in September.

p.119

Lee Kuan Yew's influence on Singapore has been significant and his own memoirs are almost a history of that nation. (courtesy of Agence France Presse)

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