Jul 22nd 2004 | SINGAPORE
From The Economist print edition
Strange how the new Mr Lee looks remarkably like the old one
IN A recent speech to fellow graduates of Harvard University, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore's deputy prime minister, explained that his country was at a “major transition point”. He was referring, he went on to explain, not just to his own promotion to prime minister, which was this week scheduled for August 12th, but also to the economic and social reforms the government has planned. “We are prepared”, he said, “to take the plunge.”
Yet Mr Lee hardly seems the plunging type. He is the son of Singapore' s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, and shares his father's measured, practical and technocratic approach to government. He also shares a somewhat condescending, didactic bent, and a tendency to chide and admonish rather than charm and encourage. His speeches brim with grim economic prognoses and stern injunctions to Singaporeans to tighten their belts. After a 14-year interval under the affable Goh Chok Tong, most Singaporeans will find the reversion of leadership to the Lee dynasty more like a cold shower than an exhilarating leap into the unknown.