VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizen revives FAKE Lee Kuan Yew quote on ‘stupid’ Filipinos

An old, fabricated quote attributed to the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has resurfaced on social media.

On May 14, a day after the midterm elections, a netizen posted on Facebook a quote card featuring a low-quality copy of a 2005 Getty Images photo of Lee, juxtaposed with a statement about democracy in the country. An excerpt of the quote reads:

“The Philippine version of democracy as of late is best called a government by stupid people, for stupid people and of stupid people. The result is you get a government that buys the people, poor the people, and off the people.”

There is no official record stating that Lee, who died in March 2015, ever said such a thing. The statement is only reflected in netizens’ tweets and comments on blog posts.

The same quote card is featured in a July 2015 blog post by, titled “The Filipino People Need More Discipline, Not More Democracy,” where the author advocated for “disciplinary governance” and lauded Singapore as “a model for progress.”

The author proposed caning as a form of punishment, including spanking “clothed buttocks” of children in schools, among others.

While the author made no mention of Lee, a closer look shows the blog post featured the same statements attributed to the Singaporean leader in the fake quote card. More, the blog post appears to twist the Asian strongman's 1992 statement, which he had written about in his book, “From Third World to First”:

“I do not believe democracy necessarily leads to development. I believe what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy.”

The fabricated quote card has been shared over 12,000 times. It has received over 1,600 reactions and more than 500 comments, with some netizens agreeing with the statement and others cursing Lee.

The post was uploaded a day after the country’s midterm elections. was created on March 6, 2018.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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