Singapore better prepared to deal with global challenges as country is united, cohesive: PM Lee
NEW YORK: Singapore stands out among other nations when it comes to weathering global uncertainties, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Sep 27), adding that the country has remained united and cohesive, and has better resources in the face of challenges.
“These are problems which confront many countries in the world, big and small, and we're not the only one. But compared to the other countries in the world, I think we are better prepared to deal with it,” said Mr Lee.
“We are more united, we are more cohesive, we have more resources. We're better able to train our people and to deliver results and be competitive.”
Speaking to the media at the end of his seven-day trip to New York for the UN General Assembly, Mr Lee said he hopes Singapore’s fourth-generation (4G) leaders will continue to build on this cohesion and take the nation forward.
The Prime Minister said Singapore has to ensure it has “good people in politics, responsible people who are able to get support from the ground”.
“Make sure you keep on voting in leaders who can serve Singapore well. There is no magic, 100 per cent safety net. You press this button, you sign this paper and you are safe for 100 years – there is no such solution,” he said.
When asked if the 4G leaders were ready for the upcoming elections that must be held by April 2021, Mr Lee said the People’s Action Party (PAP) is “always ready”.
Mr Lee, who is the PAP’s secretary-general, said the 4G leaders are familiar with the challenges facing Singapore, having been in politics for some time.
“Before that many of them have been in the public service for some time. So they are familiar with the issues,” he said.
“One great advantage they have is that we will all work together to support them and to make sure that they succeed, whether they are old or whether they are young. We want them to succeed. They are the Singapore team."
On global challenges facing Singapore, Mr Lee spoke about the US-China trade tensions that have weighed on Singapore’s economic growth. This is not a “temporary issue” that can be resolved once a “document or US-China trade agreement” is signed, he said.
Mr Lee said he does not expect a quick breakthrough, adding that he believes both countries expect it to be a long discussion, with “bumpy weather” for some time to come.
“These are very deep conflicts of interest, even frictions … there is a risk of them becoming fundamental contradictions. We have to be prepared for that. And therefore, let us all get together and support the Singapore team, wear the same badge and we pull in the same direction,” Mr Lee said.
One other key challenge Mr Lee highlighted was climate change, an issue the prime minister spoke about in his first address at the UN General Assembly.
In his speech, Mr Lee said leaders have a duty to youth to act on climate change, because it is about their future.
Climate change had been described by Mr Lee as a “wicked global problem” that is best dealt with using a multilateral approach, even as US President Donald Trump indicated that he does not believe in the system and said that the future belongs to patriots, not globalists.
READ: US, China must reconsider positions in trade war that won’t end with ‘one loser and one winner’: PM Lee
But Mr Lee said there are still many like-minded countries that believe in international cooperation, adding that their situations are different from that of the US.
“We will work together with all the countries who have this conviction that common problems need solutions where everybody comes together. And I hope that in time, America will come to a conclusion that it is in its own interest to join such a community of nations to work to solve problems and make progress together,” Mr Lee said.