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Swiss hotel desk clerk decreed Lee Kuan Yew to be Chinese

Swiss hotel desk clerk decreed Lee Kuan Yew to be Chinese

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That experience determined his Chinese-ness forevermore.

The following is a truncated, first-person extract from Lee Kuan Yew’s newest book, My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore’s Bilingualism Journey to be launched on Nov. 28, 2011.

The first part is on Lee’s experience that encouraged him to send all his children to Chinese-medium schools from Chapter One.

The second part is on adjustments to teaching Chinese and the policy of bilingualism in the future from Chapter Six.

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Lee Kuan Yew's a "born-again Chinese" after his experience as an undergrad in Cambridge and London from 1946 to 1950. Therefore, it shall always be Kuan Yew, not Harry, ok? The missus pictured is Kwa Geok Choo.

I am labelled as a “born-again Chinese”.

My awakening occurred in the late 1940s, during my time in England.

People there saw me as Chinese. Therefore, I am. They didn’t recognised a Singaporean or a Malayan when they saw me.

Once, at a hotel in Lucerne in Switzerland where I holidayed, the desk clerk only recognised me as a Chinese even when I said I was a Malayan.

“What’s that?”, the hotel staff responded. “Never mind, I’ll put you down as a Chinese”.

Since then, I’ve decided I must be Chinese from such experiences. Read the full story