The world is never short of brilliant and intelligent men but few are the men who could discern and command the historical forces themselves. Lee Kuan Yew was such a man, a true ruler and statesman. Agree or disagree with his policies, praise or curse him, he was undoubtedly a great man.
It is not incumbent upon a ruler to know everything, to judge or weigh the merits of every policy and every legislation for himself. There is no doubt that Lee Kuan Yew was backed by brilliant and intelligent men who formulated sound policies for him.
What made Lee Kuan Yew a great ruler was that he had the will to force through those policies and laws which he thought was best for Singapore. Against all the forces arrayed against him, sometimes even against the people of Singapore themselves, he acted upon his convictions come what may. It is this willfulness, and his triumph against those who would oppose it, which made him a great man.
I still maintain that independence for Singapore was a mistake and that we should never have left the British Empire. I still think that Singapore is not sustainable in the long term. But Lee Kuan Yew, as he himself says, is not an ideologue but a problem solver, he acted according to the best lights he was given, he confronted and solved problems given by his circumstances, and it is only too easy to be wise after the fact. And under his leadership Singapore has not only survived but thrived and succeeded.
In this all Singaporeans must respect him as we would our own parents. Our own parents are not infallible nor always right, yet as they gave us life, so did Lee Kuan Yew give us civic life and this worldly prosperity, and for that we are compelled to be grateful.
Yet we must also remember, as Christians, that as great a man as Lee Kuan Yew was, there will come that great day of Judgement when Lee Kuan Yew shall stand shoulder to shoulder with those whom he has ruled over and be required to give an account of that rule to the King of kings. His place in the history books is secured, but his place in the Book of Life remains an open question. For eventually no matter the greatness and meaness of our empirical life, the Lord of lords does not consult history books but his own righteousness and his own wisdom, which sees all, to weigh the hearts of man. And it is by that alone divine righteousness which has been revealed in Jesus Christ whereby Lee Kuan Yew shall be judged.
Yet I remember reading an account of how Lee Kuan Yew used to read from the New Testament to his dying wife. Although he publicly expressed his skepticism of life after death, we must remain hopeful that perhaps with those verses which he comforted his wife, he may in the last moments of his life have found comfort in them and so believed their testimony. May God grant that those inspired words which shall not return to him void, enable Lee Kuan Yew to give a good answer before the King of kings, the Lord of lords and the God of gods.