opinion | L. Kim Tan Gaining new appreciation for Singapore’s titan ← Related Article Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page Under Lee Kuan Yew, this city-state became a global leader. AP/file 1963 Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, led a sleepy 277-square-mile resource-poor place into the First World and dramatically improved his people’s lot, albeit with measures some found oppressive. Pictured: Lee was hoisted by supporters after leading his party to a landslide victory. For a schoolboy who liked chewing gum, rock music, and pushing the limit on how long males could wear their hair, L. Kim Tan, who now edits the Globe’s South regional section, dreaded taking the bus from Malaysia into Singapore to visit or shop. Pictured: Tan in 1977. L. Kim Tan/Globe staff Shops like these on Sam Leong Road in downtown Singapore are increasingly rare due to land constraints. L. Kim Tan/Globe staff Most Singaporeans today live in government-planned Housing Development Board high-rises such as these on Commonwealth Drive. ROBYN BECK/AFP/file 1999 The greatness of Lee Kuan Yew, who died at age 91 in March, was in realizing early his vision for Singapore and seizing the day. Like the determined sheriff in an old Western, he brought order and stability to his town so it could prosper and its citizens were able to live without fear of those who would be outlaws. L. Kim Tan/Globe staff While some of his policies were controversial, such as intolerance toward dissent, Singaporeans live in a country with low crime rates, a clean bureaucracy, and an infrastructure that works efficiently. Pictured: A view of Singapore’s skyline.