Condolences from the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Singapore following the death of the country’s founding father and first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, observed: “The late Prime Minister was a contemporary of the late Sir Lynden Pindling ... Sir Lynden often said that he wanted The Bahamas to be the Singapore of the Caribbean.”
There is much that the Bahamas can learn from Singapore and the legacy of Lee. But there are two major attributes required to replicate Singapore’s success, the absence of which makes such success difficult. The two attributes are the personal discipline and work ethic of citizens, and the quality of political leadership.
Bahamians generally lack the discipline and work ethic of Singaporeans. And for all of his gifts and contributions to national development, Sir Lynden, a leading founding father, lacked the strategic vision and commitment to personal incorruptibility and intolerance for state corruption that characterized the rule of Singapore’s Lee.
One of the reasons for Singapore’s success was the example of the incorruptible Lee, who had a fierce commitment to the rule of law and launched a massive anti-corruption program after becoming his country’s leader.
Given his role and person, and the progressive movement’s desire to turn a page from the vast corruption of the white oligarchy and its political instrument the United Bahamian Party (UBP), Sir Lynden had a singular opportunity to foster a new political culture, an opportunity he quickly squandered, setting the country back for generations as the PLP became synonymous with corruption.