Singapore mourns founding father Lee Kuan Yew

Published: 23 March 2015


"Singapore has begun seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. [...] News of Mr Lee's death came in a government statement that said he had "passed away peacefully" in the early hours of Monday at Singapore General Hospital."


Expert : Dr. Sarah Moser, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

Dr Moser can comment on the impact Lee Kuan Yew has had on the country:

  • "the massive influence he and his developmentalist approach has had globally, particularly in authoritarian contexts
  • his inability to adapt to changing expectations for leaders
  • how he maintained a rather authoritarian approach until the end and lacked the ability to reflect on how the leadership qualities that worked in the 60s and 70s were not suitable in the present, particularly with a much more educated and sophisticated citizenry
  • challenges the Singapore state is facing in the coming years, as the population is frustrated by the top-down leadership and angry about the break-neck pace of change and growing gaps between rich and poor.
  • A national election is coming up and with the all-powerful Lee Kuan Yew gone, his son is likely to face unprecedented challenges to his leadership."

Research interests

"My research examines how national, religious, and ethnic identities shape cities in Southeast Asia and the Muslim world more broadly. I am fascinated by the transnational circulation of identity, architecture and urban policy and how cities across Asia are looking elsewhere in the global south rather than to ‘the west’ for inspiration.  My current work investigates the global emergence of supra-national religious and ethnic identities and how they are manifested in urban form and used to serve secular nation-building purposes. In particular, I examine emerging pan-Islamic identity, the ‘Arabization’ of Muslim identity and the effect these broad trends are having on urban areas. Another strand of this work examines emerging ‘pan-Chinese’ identities currently circulating in Asia and how they are being manifested in cities."

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