The founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who turned the Southeast Asian island nation into an economic powerhouse seemingly through force of sheer will, died Monday at the age of 91. He leaves behind one of the wealthiest and least corrupt countries in Asia, but one that is also famously strict and has been criticized for human-rights offenses. Above all, however, Singapore works, reflecting Lee’s philosophy he articulated to The New York Times in 2007 as, “Does it work? If it works, let’s try it. If it’s fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.” His “soft authoritarianism,” which limited free speech and political participation in exchange for material well-being and clean government, has been studied all over Asia and adopted by many developing countries, including China.