In recent years, Singapore had become a heralded model, sought out to be emulated in many countries in Africa. Some countries are even touted as the Singapore of Africa.
Our Presidents and ministers who usually do not read, had been summoned to read the father of Singapore independence, Lee Kuan Yew, 400+pages memoirs.
Many did not move further than the introduction, the few who had read it, failed to notice the cultural change Yew pioneered prior to the materialistic change.
One of the first thing Yew did was to drop his alien first name “Harry”.
He was born Harry Yew. Once he returned home and entered politics, he changed his name, because he did not want to set a bad example for Singapore Youth to emulate foreign names, and in his memoirs he said he wanted to identify with his Chinese roots, and as politician he won’t have a good career /votes/ with a foreign name like “Harry”.
(In Nigeria we’ve got a president with full alien name: Goodluck Jonathan.)
Another critical decision Yew made very early was to cut the link between secret societies and politics. It was made illegal and punished as high treason to belong to secret societies (Freemasonry, Rotary clubs, Lions clubs) and be state high officers. You can not access state secrets and belong to a private group where you share secrets. You have to chose.
(Interestingly, all French colonies presidents in Africa are members of Freemason lodges. Now, explain to me, how the oppressed and the oppressor could be member of the same secret society?)
Yew invested a lot in community building, with a lot of personal field work, and beyond everything made excellence in math, and financial literacy, a matter of national pride.
High IQ, plus cold hearted pragmatism, and a benevolent dictatorship made Singapore what it became.
Taking shortcuts by building tours and ports like in Singapore won’t make it.
Culture is the DNA of societies. The wrong one produces handicapped societies. The right one produces responsive societies.