Never Good Men Analysis

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Throughout the course of history, there have been many great men that have effected immense change, both positive and negative. However, many of the greatest have been shrouded in controversy over the ethics of their work. It has been said that “Great men are never good men”, but I believe that great men are not never good men, but rather are not always good men, defined as ethically sound men. To support and justify my thesis, I will be evaluating the ethics of Lee Kuan Yew’s actions. Lee Kuan Yew is a prominent figure in Singapore’s history and is credited for the rapid propulsion of Singapore from third world to first world in under 40 years. A man with vision and courage, he recognized Singapore’s strengths and weaknesses and built on them,…show more content…
This in turn raised questions concerning the ethics of his actions to stay in power. Ethics here is characterized by utilitarianism - if it is for the greater good, does it mean it is ethically acceptable? Ultimately, I believe that it is, and hence while Lee Kuan Yew was not always a good man, the statement “Great men are never good men” doesn’t apply. A major argument raised that Lee Kuan Yew’s actions were ethically unsound is that he arbitrarily detained many individuals without trial under suspicion of communism. This was reflective of his resolution in decision-making and yet as well as his ruthlessness when dealing with people he viewed as dissidents and political competition. A particularly prominent case was Operation Spectrum in 1987. (“Marxist Conspiracy”) Operation Spectrum involved the detainment of 22 individuals accused of involvement in a “Marxist conspiracy” to overthrow…show more content…
Under Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership and policy, the People’s Action Party (PAP) actively made efforts to dominate and control mass media. He spearheaded these efforts, stating that "More important, we want the mass media to reinforce, not undermine, the cultural values and social attitudes being inculcated in our schools and universities... The freedom of the press must be subordinated to the integrity of Singapore and the primacy of purpose of an elected government." (Cheong.) However, The role of the press and media in a democracy is to encourage transparency and accountability to the people in a government, publicize issues, educate citizens and connect individuals in a civil society. The government’s monopoly over the media then becomes a problem, as there will be limited diversity in opinion and controversial articles that may ring true but settle poorly with the government may be censored. This further translates into an ethical concern, as members of the public may become afraid to express themselves, limiting freedom of speech and press. (Seow.) An instance of this was the restriction of the circulation of the Far Eastern Economic Review for it’s extensive and harsh coverage of Operation Spectrum in 1987, questioning the government’s actions.
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