Singapore markets closed

Charlie Munger: 'If you want one mantra, it comes from' Singapore's first prime minister

Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chair, Charlie Munger, said Saturday that the one mantra he followed in life came from Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore who governed for three decades.

Responding to a question about human nature at the annual Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-ABRK-B) shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, Munger said the country’s founding father had a formula for success that he quite liked.

“Lee Kuan Yew — who is the greatest nation builder, probably that ever lived in the history of the world — he said one thing over and over and over again all his life,” and that was to “figure out what works and do it,” said Munger.

“If you want one mantra, it comes from Lee Kuan Yew,” he said.

Because with that attitude, said Munger, “You just go at life with that simple philosophy from your own national group, You will find it works wonderfully well. Figure out what works and do it.”

‘This is not a game of cards’

Under decades of Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, Singapore transformed itself from a British outpost into a global trade and finance giant.

From unemployment in the double-digits and a relatively meager GDP per capita of $516 at its independence in 1965 to around 2.2% employment and a GDP per capita in excess of $57,000 today, the country has been hailed as a success story by economists and politicians alike.

But Lee Kuan Yew has often been criticized for using heavy-handed tactics to quell internal unrest.

A man bows as he pays his respects to late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at Tanjong Pagar community club, in the constituency which Lee represented as Member of Parliament since 1955, in Singapore March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him, or give it up,” he declared during a rally in 1980. “This is not a game of cards, this is your life and mine. I spent a whole lifetime building this. And as long as I’m in charge, nobody’s gonna knock it down.”

Munger, who has made his fondness for the world leader known, has also said he liked Lee Kuan Yew’s unique — and at times controversial — policy moves.

In 2010 during a Q&A session at the University of Michigan, Munger also had high praise for the island nation: “Singapore is the single most successful governmental system to exist in the world,” he said. “If you will make a study of the life and work of Lee Kuan Yew, you’ll find one of the most interesting and instructive political stories written in the history of mankind.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.

  • Airbus shelves plan to add new A321 assembly line
    Finance
    Reuters

    Airbus shelves plan to add new A321 assembly line

    Airbus has shelved plans to create a new assembly line in Toulouse, France, for its A321 airliner as the company wrestles with the coronavirus crisis. Airbus announced plans for the line in January when its problem was how to meet record demand for the jet from its site in Hamburg, Germany, which has

  • Diamond miner Alrosa reports 60% sales fall as coronavirus hits trade
    Finance
    Reuters

    Diamond miner Alrosa reports 60% sales fall as coronavirus hits trade

    Russian diamond producer Alrosa on Friday reported a 60% fall in March sales versus a year earlier citing the spread of the coronavirus for the fall in demand. The virus also hit the diamond trade, which traditionally involves a lot of travelling, with border closures and quarantine measures across

  • China encourages export goods sales domestically as virus batters global trade
    Finance
    Reuters

    China encourages export goods sales domestically as virus batters global trade

    China will promote the sales of export products in domestic markets, as foreign trade faces unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, an assistant commerce minister said on Friday. As the coronavirus spreads to almost all of China's trading partners, the world's second-largest

  • Global oil output cuts held hostage to Mexican standoff
    News
    Reuters

    Global oil output cuts held hostage to Mexican standoff

    Oil producers in the OPEC+ group, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, were expected to pressure Mexico on Friday to seal an accord for a collective cut in output of 10 million barrels per day, before asking other nations for a further 5 million bpd of cuts. The United States has encouraged global cooperation

  • Finance
    Reuters

    Coronavirus impact cuts Japan March hotel occupancy rate to lowest on record -research firm

    Japan's hotel occupancy rate tumbled to 30.5% in March, according to preliminary data from global hotel research firm STR, the worst monthly average in the latter's records as the coronavirus pandemic slashed numbers of people travelling. The survey provides the first snapshot of the impact

  • Coronavirus drug hopefuls are cheap to make but may be in short supply
    Finance
    Reuters

    Coronavirus drug hopefuls are cheap to make but may be in short supply

    Drugs being re-purposed in hopes they will help against COVID-19 cost little to make but may prove challenging to produce in quantities needed for a pandemic, a drug pricing expert said. "Any pharmaceutical company manufacturing any treatment currently in clinical trials against coronavirus needs

  • France has earmarked 20 billion euros for corporate bailouts - finance minister
    Finance
    Reuters

    France has earmarked 20 billion euros for corporate bailouts - finance minister

    The French government has set aside 20 billion euros ($21.7 billion) to help big companies that need their capital base shored up by the state, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday. "We've decided to put credit on the fund, to put 20 billion euros on the special fund to support to

  • Sanofi will donate 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to 50 countries
    News
    Reuters

    Sanofi will donate 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to 50 countries

    French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it had decided to donate 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, the decades-old anti-malaria drug touted by some as a potential weapon against the novel coronavirus, across 50 countries. In a statement, the company said it increased its production capacity

  • Japan finmin dismisses need for BOJ to underwrite debt over virus stimulus
    Finance
    Reuters

    Japan finmin dismisses need for BOJ to underwrite debt over virus stimulus

    Japan's government is not planning to ask the Bank of Japan to finance its debt, which has been driven up by stimulus spending to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday. Aso made the remark at a news conference after a cabinet meeting, when asked

  • China's auto sales fall at a slower rate in March; industry expects second-half pick-up
    Finance
    Reuters

    China's auto sales fall at a slower rate in March; industry expects second-half pick-up

    Auto sales in China plunged an annual 43.3% in March, data showed on Friday, as the world's biggest auto market struggles to get into gear following a prolonged demand slump that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. Sales fell 1.43 million vehicles from the same month a year earlier

  • Finance
    Reuters

    KB Financial Group acquires Prudential's South Korean unit for $1.89 billion

    KB Financial Group Inc has signed a share purchase agreement to buy a 100% stake in Prudential Financial Inc's South Korean unit for 2.3 trillion won ($1.89 billion), the group said in a filing on Friday. The deal marks the No.1 U.S. life insurer's exit from the South Korean market after 30

  • Japan sees 51 coronavirus-related bankruptcies
    Finance
    Reuters

    Japan sees 51 coronavirus-related bankruptcies

    The coronavirus pandemic has pushed 51 Japanese companies into bankruptcy with a spike in new cases seen in April, Tokyo Shoko Research said on Friday, underscoring the toll the health crisis is taking on the world's third-largest economy. The bankruptcies were mostly in the hotel and restaurant

  • Kremlin says Putin, Trump, Saudi king seek to stabilise oil trade
    Finance
    Reuters

    Kremlin says Putin, Trump, Saudi king seek to stabilise oil trade

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, discussed the OPEC+ oil group meeting in a phone call on Friday and confirmed their aim was to stabilise the global oil trade, the Kremlin said. OPEC, Russia and other allies outlined plans on Thursday

  • China factory gate deflation deepens as coronavirus paralyses global economy
    Finance
    Reuters

    China factory gate deflation deepens as coronavirus paralyses global economy

    China's factory gate prices fell the most in five months in March, with deflation deepening and set to worsen in coming months as the economic damage wrought by the coroanvirus outbreak at home and worldwide shuts down many countries. Friday's data from the National Bureau of Statistics suggested

  • High U.S. unemployment, 2.5 million jobs lost through 2021 - survey
    Finance
    Reuters

    High U.S. unemployment, 2.5 million jobs lost through 2021 - survey

    After a widely expected and sharp drop in the U.S. economy over the next three months, a panel of top business economists sees high joblessness persisting for more than a year in an outcome that would douse hopes for a quick, post-pandemic return to normal. The number of jobs destroyed by the U.S. economy

  • Prominent China lawyer quits ZTE board after media reports of sexual assault probe
    Finance
    Reuters

    Prominent China lawyer quits ZTE board after media reports of sexual assault probe

    A prominent Chinese lawyer who served on the board of telecoms equipment giant ZTE Corp has resigned after several news articles in state-backed media reported that he was under investigation for alleged sexual assault. ZTE said in a filing with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Friday that it had received

  • Malaysian firms led by world's top glove maker prioritise medical supplies
    Finance
    Reuters

    Malaysian firms led by world's top glove maker prioritise medical supplies

    Top Glove Corp Bhd, the world's biggest maker of medical gloves, plans to start producing face masks to meet rising demand from the coronavirus outbreak, a top executive told Reuters. The Malaysian company, which makes one out of every five gloves in the world, will have a facility ready in two

  • Finance
    Reuters

    China drafts rules to assess banks' lending to smaller firms

    China's banking regulator said on Friday it will start monitoring how much support lenders are extending to struggling smaller firms, the latest push to guide more funding into the country's most vulnerable business sector. Banks' lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be included

  • Saudi king, Trump, Putin review importance of cooperation between oil producing countries
    Finance
    Reuters

    Saudi king, Trump, Putin review importance of cooperation between oil producing countries

    Saudi Arabia's King Salman, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reviewed, in a phone call, the importance of cooperation between oil producing countries, after Thursday's OPEC+ meeting, Saudi state news agency SPA reported. The leaders stressed the importance of

  • Volkswagen furloughs 1,500 workers at Tennessee auto plant starting April 11
    Finance
    Reuters

    Volkswagen furloughs 1,500 workers at Tennessee auto plant starting April 11

    The automaker said its "primary objective is to protect the financial health of Volkswagen for the benefit of our team as we address the emerging and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19." On Tuesday, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co said they had furloughed thousands of workers at their U.S.

  • GM plans to extend shutdown of Brazil auto production by 60 days
    Finance
    Reuters

    GM plans to extend shutdown of Brazil auto production by 60 days

    General Motors Co plans to keep its Brazilian factories shut down for at least 60 more days due to the coronavirus crisis, the company said Thursday, as the final batch of unionized workers voted on the automaker's proposal. GM's plants in Brazil have been shuttered since March 30 when the company

  • EU ministers agree half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue plan
    Finance
    Reuters

    EU ministers agree half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue plan

    European Union finance ministers agreed on Thursday on half-a-trillion euros worth of support for their coronavirus-battered economies but left open the question of how to finance recovery in the bloc headed for a steep recession. The agreement was reached after EU powerhouse Germany, as well as France

  • Trump says airlines could receive grant details this weekend; sources say around 275 applied
    News
    Reuters

    Trump says airlines could receive grant details this weekend; sources say around 275 applied

    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that airlines could receive details this weekend about the terms of a $32 billion payroll grant to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which sources told Reuters has received around 275 applicants. Under the $2.3 trillion CARES Act, passenger airlines

  • Exclusive: U.S. banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust
    News
    Reuters

    Exclusive: U.S. banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust

    Major U.S. lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt, sources aware of the plans told Reuters. JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp and

  • U.S. agencies back revoking ability of China Telecom to operate in U.S.
    Finance
    Reuters

    U.S. agencies back revoking ability of China Telecom to operate in U.S.

    The U.S. Justice Department and other federal agencies on Thursday called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke China Telecom (Americas) Corp's authorization to provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States. China Telecom is the U.S. subsidiary