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Lee Kuan Yew Supported Polygamy & His Thoughts on the Sexual Marketplace

I read the concept that Monogamy Disempowers Top Men: Relationship Structures in Seduction University.

Lee Kuan Yew gave a 1986 speech
How To Keep Our Bearings In The Midst Of Rapid Changes

The talk was held at the National University of Singapore, jointly-organised by the Democratic Socialist Club and Political Association on 12 Dec 1986.

One controversial point was polygamy for nation-building (not part of the speech, a summary by someone):

In closing, he addressed the issue of the dangerously declining birth rate and he suggested that it was erroneous to follow the West in being monogamous and a shift has to be made to steer Singapore away from the disastrous consequences ahead. He recommended polygamy as the solution, for correcting the declining birth rate, for dealing with the problem of the increasing number of unmarried women, for nation building and more....

He felt that polygamy would tackle 3 social issues:

  • For correcting declining birth rate.
  • For dealing with the problem of increasing number of unmarried women, especially those who are better educated.
  • For such women to play an important role in nation building by also having them to raise children.

From the article Singapore Church Leaders Reject Lee Kuan Yew's Opinion on Polygamy

These differences arise because educated women tend to remain single to pursue careers, Lee said, and because educated men prefer wives who are educationally inferior to themselves.

In earlier days, Lee said, polygamy was a mechanism through which talented men produced more offspring than they otherwise would.
He wondered whether Singapore should have followed the example of Japan where successful men keep mistresses.

Excerpt on hypergamy from Lee Kuan Yew's speech:

For the girls my advice is, theirs is a rational choice, is backed by history, that’s the way to bring up a good family, secure and safe, marry upwards, hypergamy but in these circumstances, do not ignore other options.

On Lee Kuan Yew's thoughts on a girl saying she will not marry a guy for his genes:

I’ll end up with an anecdote. Three years ago I was talking to some journalists, analysing these figures for them, trying to break it gradually across.

And she said to me "But, Prime Minister, if a man wants to marry me for my genes, I don’t want to marry him."

And I thought to myself, "What a silly ass of a girl."

The excerpt advocating for polygamy:

When the Japanese zaibatsu chairman says "Find me a son-in-law" to the vice-minister, he is wanting to ensure that his grand-children will measure up.

And the way the old society did it was by polygamy.

The successful, whether you’re a scholar, a Mandarin or a successful businessman or successful farmer, you had more than one wife.

In fact you can have as many as your economic status entitles you or can persuade people to give their daughters up to you.

In other words, the unsuccessful are like the weak lions or bucks in a herd, they were neutralised.

So over the generations you must have the physically and the mentally more vibrant and vital, reproduce.
We are doing just the opposite.

We introduced monogamy.
It seems so manifestly correct.
The West was successful, superior. Why?
Because they are monogamous.

It was wrong. It was stupid.

When Mr. Tanaka was asked in the Japanese Diet five, six years ago "You’ve got another mistress with children there," he nodded in vehement agreement.
He said, "That’s quite right."

And the more Tanakas there are in Japan, I have no doubt the more dynamic will be Japanese society.
There was no embarrassment.

But we have worked ourselves into an awkward position.
We’ve got to work ourselves out of it and your generation has got to do something about it.

Of course, there was a lashback from the church leaders.

Reacting to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew´s suggestion that introducing monogamy into Singapore was "wrong" and "stupid," Archbishop Gregory Yong reaffirmed that polygamy is "wrong" and "not Christian."

At the same time, the archbishop said he would not "jump to the hasty conclusion" that Lee is promoting polygamy for the nation.

The archbishop was afraid to disagree with him directly though.

Valentin has reacted to this post.


I moved this on the researches / studies -and I added "theory" to it to differentiate between the upper sections (more practical), and this section, more theoretical.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Yeah, from an individual's dating perspective, it's probably not very practical.

Lee Kuan Yew was serious about driving polygamy to solve some of the societal problems of a developing nation.

There was another newspaper release during the 1980s.
He regretted giving women equal education and employment rights because that has made it harder for them to find husbands.
(He often viewed himself as the one driving and shaping society. In many ways, it's true.)

The newspaper quoted him:

The Asian male does not like to have a wife who is seen to be his equal at work who may be earning as much if not more than him.

The core issue is that women generally don't like to marry someone who is lower in socioeconomic status.
In 1981, 63% of female graduates remain unmarried.

It was good and arguably necessary for a developing nation's economy to have as many educated individuals, men and women, as possible.
Indeed, it was good for the economy in the short term.

However, one of the side effects was a lot of single, educated women in the 1980s.
As a result, the birth rate went down.

Lee Kuan Yew thought polygamy could be the solution.

I found this interesting because it aligns with the theory that polygamy is good for

  • women in general - free to choose top men with wives in addition to single men
  • the top men - no need to commit to one woman

This was in the 1980s when evolutionary psychology was not so developed.
David Buss got his PhD in 1981.
Maybe if David Buss was born a decade earlier, this sociological issue could be foreseen.

But it's a recurring issue.
Educated women have more challenges finding partners.
If monogamy is the norm and educated women want men to do better than them, then some of them are bound to be single purely due to demand and supply.

So is polygamy/polyamory the solution?

The practical strategies for the individual as a result of these dynamics are in the articles, Seduction University, Power University so probably no need to repeat too much here.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano