Collection: Charlie Munger - #152 'Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore'



[Transcript]

JULIA LA ROCHE 00:00

We have a question from Steven Chen. Charlie, you have been a long-time admirer of Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew. You once said that "study the life and work of Lee Kuan Yew. You are going to be flabbergasted."


I would be curious to know how did you started your interest about Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew. Have you met Lee Kuan Yew in person? And if there is one thing the world could learn from Singapore now, what would that be?


CHARLIE MUNGER 00:32

Well, Lee Kuan Yew had the best record as a nation builder. If you’re willing to count small nations in the group, he had probably the best record that ever existed in the history of the world.


He took over a malarial swamp with no army, no nothing. And, pretty soon, he turned that into this gloriously prosperous place. His method for doing it was so simple. You know, the mantra he said over and over again is very simple. He said, "figure out what works and do it."


Now, it sounds like anybody would know that made sense. But you know, most people don’t do that. They don’t work that hard at figuring out what works and what doesn’t. And they don’t just keep everlastingly at it the way he did.


He was a very smart man and he had a lot of good ideas. He absolutely took over a malarial swamp and turned it into modern Singapore — in his own lifetime. It was absolutely incredible.


And he did not have – He was a one party system but he could always be removed by the electorate. He was not a dictator. And he was just so good. He was death on corruption which was a very good idea. There’s hardly anything he touched he didn’t improve.


When I look at the modern Singapore health system, it costs 20% of what the American system costs. And, of course, it works way better than our medical system. That’s entirely due to the practical talent of Lee Kuan Yew. Just time after time, he would choose the right system.


In Singapore, you get a savings account the day you’re born. And if you don’t spend the money, you and your heirs get to spend it eventually. In other words, it’s your money. So, to some extent, everybody buying medical services in Singapore is paying for it themselves.


Of course, people behave more sensibly when they’re spending their own money. Just time after time he would do something like that. That recognized reality and worked way better than what other people were doing. There aren’t that many people like Lee Kuan Yew that have ever lived. So, of course, I admire him. I have a bust of Lee Kuan Yew in my house. I admire him that much.


(Source: https://youtu.be/Pp4CvjNw-9Y)

 

[YAPSS Takeaway]