From Third World to First: A Case Study of Lee Kuan Yew and Language Management in Singapore
Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (2015)
Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences
In the early 1960s, Singapore had a third world per-capita GDP of around $2,200 per annum. By 1990 however, it had miraculously transformed itself into the ‘first world’, placed second on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness rankings, with a per-capita share of gross domestic product of more than $60,000 (US). Is there something that developing countries may learn from its political-economic-linguistic structuring policies and practices? There have been many reasons offered to explain the Singapore ‘miracle’ but what is little known are Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements in the linguistic arena. As one of the world’s longest serving Prime Ministers, Lee’s name is synonymous with the history of modern Singapore and any study on language sciences and the developing world must take this into consideration. This paper is divided into two main sections. Section 1 is on Lee’s linguistic strategies to catapult his party to power in the 1955 and 1959 general elections on the eve of the British departure while Section 2 outlines his language management policies.
Author: Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew
Alsagoff, L. (2010). Hybridity in the ways of speaking. The glocalizaton of English in Singapore. In L. Lim, A. Pakir and L. Wee (Eds) (2010). English in Singapore. Modernity and Management, 109–113. Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press.
Ang, Cheng Guan (2013). Lee Kuan Yew’s Strategic Thought. London: Routledge.
Ayer, A. J. (1998). The principle of verification. In A. Nye (Ed.). Philosophy of Language: The Big Questions. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Baldauf, B. R. Jr., and Chua, S. K. C. (2012). Language planning and multilingualism. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, 1–11. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0632
Barr, M. D. (2000). Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. Asian Monograph Series no. 8. Richmond Surrey: Curzon.
Berman, B., Eyoh, D., and Kymlika, W. (2004). Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Bloodsworth, D. (1986). The Tiger and the Trojan Horse. Singapore: Times Books International.
Chew, P. G. L. (2009). Emergent Lingua Francas and World Orders. The Politics and Place of English as a World Language. New York: Routledge.
Chew, P. G. L. (2011). The emergence, role and future of the national language in Singapore. In J. A. Fishman and G. Ofelia (Eds), Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity, 204–218. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chew, P. G. L. (2013). A Sociolinguistic History of Early Identities in Singapore. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Chia, F. (1994). The Babas Revisited. Peranakan (Chinese), Chinese, Social Life and Customs. (Rev. ed.). Singapore: Heinemann Asia.
Chua, S. C. (1964). Report on the Census of Population 1957. Singapore: State of Singapore.
Clammer, J. (1980). Straits Chinese Society. Singapore: Singapore University Press.
Curdt-Christiansen, X-L. and Silver, R. E. (2011). Learning environments: The enactment of educational policies in Singapore. In C. Ward (Ed.), Language Education: An Essential for a Global Economy (RELC Anthology #52), 2–24. Singapore: SEAMEO, Regional English Language Centre.
De Silva, K. M. (1998). Ethnic Conflict, Ethnic Politics in Sri Lanka. New Delhi: India, Penguin Books.
Deterding, D. (2007). Singapore English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625444.001.0001
Department of Statistics (1981). Census of population 1980 (1981). Report on the Census of Population by Khoo Chian Kim. Singapore: Department of Statistics.
Department of Statistics (1991). Census of population 1990 .Advance Data Release. Singapore: Department of Statistics.
Department of Statistics (2001). Census of Population 2000. Advance Data Release. Singapore: Department of Statistics.
Department of Statistics (2011). Census of Population 2010 (2011) Advance Data Release. Singapore: Department of Statistics.
Goh, K. S. (1978). Report on the Ministry of Education 1978. Singapore: Singapore National Printers.
Gopinathan, S., Ho, W. K. and Saravanan, S. (2004). Ethnicity Management and Language Education Policy: Towards a modified model of language education in Singapore schools. In A. H. Lai (Ed.) Beyond Rituals and Riots: Ethnic Pluralism and Social Cohesion in Singapore, 228–257. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
Han, F. K., Zubaidah I., Hoong, C. M., Lim, L., Low, I., Lin, R., and Chan, R. (2011). Lee Kuan Yew. Hard Truths to keep Singapore Going. Singapore: Straits Times Press.
Hardwick, P. A. (2008). ‘Neither fish nor fowl’: Constructing Peranakan identity in colonial and post-colonial Singapore. Folklore. Forum, 38 (1): 36–55.
Harper, T. N. (2002). Lim Chin Siong and the ‘Singapore Story’. In Q. Q. Tan and K. S. Jomo (Eds) Comet in our Sky. Lim Chin Siong in History. Kuala Lumpur : She hui fen xi xue hui.
Heng, G. (1992). State fatherhood: The politics of nationalism, sexuality and race in Singapore. In A. Paker, M. Ruisso, D. Sommar, and P. Yaegar (eds) Nationalism and Sexualities. New York and London: Routledge.
Hill, M. and K. F. Lian (1995). The Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore. London and New York: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203424438
Ho, M. L. and Platt, J. (1993). Dynamics of a Contact Continuum. Singaporean English. Oxford: Clarenden Press.
Joseph, M and Ramani, E. (2007). English in the world does not mean English everywhere: The case for multilingual in the ELT/ESL profession. In R. Rugby and M. Saraceni (eds) English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles. London: Continuum.
Josey, A. (1980) . Lee Kuan Yew Vol. 1. Singapore: Times Books International.
Jurgen, R. (1998). Reconstructing Identities. A Social History of Babas in Singapore. Singapore: Ashgate Aldershot.
Kachru, B. B. (1985). The Alchemy of English: The Spread, Functions and Models of Non-native Englishes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kamsiah, A. and Bibi, J. M. A. (1999). Malay language issues and trends. In S. Gopinathan, A. Pakir, W. K. Ho, and V. Saravanan (Eds) Language, Society and Education in Singapore: Issues and Trends (2nd ed.), 179–190. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
Lee, K. Y. (1971). Ministry of Culture, the Mirror, 4–5. Singapore: Government Printer, 8 November 1971.
Lee, K. Y. (1998). The Singapore Story. Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings.
Lee, K. Y. (2000). From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965. New York: HarperCollins.
Lee, K. Y. (2012). My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore’s Bilingual Journey. Singapore: Straits Times Press.
Leong, W. K. (2010) The other May 13 that changed history. Straits Times, 14 May 2010, A28.
Liu, Y., Zhao, S., and Goh, H. H. (2007). Chinese language education research in Singapore. In V. Vaish, S. Gopinathan, and Y. B. Liu (Eds) Language, Capital, Culture. Critical Studies of Language and Education in Singapore, 133–157. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publications.
Mahboob, A. and Paltridge, Brian (2013). Critical Discourse analysis and Critical Applied Linguistics. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Mahboob, A. (2002). No English, no future: Language policy in Pakistan. In S. Obeng and B. Hartford (Eds) Political Independence with Linguistic Servitude: The Politics About Language in the Developing World, 15–39. New York: NY Nova Science).
Murray, D. P. (1971). Multi-language Education and Bilingualism: The Formation of Social Brokers in Singapore. London: University of Microfilms International.
Ong, C. C. (1975). The 1959 Singapore General Election. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 6 (1): 61–86. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022463400017112
Pakir, A. (1991). The range and depth of English-knowing bilingualism in Singapore. World Englishes. 10 (2): 167–179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.1991.tb00149.x
Pennycook, A. (1999). Introduction: Critical approaches to TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 33: 329–348. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3587668
Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2000). Linguistic Genocide in Education – or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? Mahwah, NJ and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Siddiqui, K. (2010). The political economy of development in Singapore. Research in Applied Economics 2 (2): 6–7. http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/rae.v2i2.524
Sugimoto, I. (2011). Economic Growth of Singapore in the Twentieth Century: Historical GDP Estimates and Empirical Investigations. Singapore : World Scientific.
Tan, P. and Rubdy, R. (Eds) (2008). Language as Commodity. Global Structures, Local Marketplace. London: Continuum.
Teo, P. (2005). Mandarinizing Singapore. A critical analysis of slogans in Singapore’s ‘speak Mandarin Campaign’. Critical Discourse Studies, 2 (2): 121–142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17405900500283565
Tan, T. (2008). Stir-fried and not Shaken. Singapore: Monsoon Books.
Trocki, C. (1979). Prince of Pirates: The Temenggongs and the Development of Johor and Singapore. 1784–1885. Singapore: Singapore University Press.
Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A History of Singapore 1819–1988 (2nd ed.). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Yap, S., Lim R., and Leong, W. K. (2009). Men in White. The Untold Story. Singapore: Straits Times Press.