PM Lee at the inaugural DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue on 5 July 2013. Singapore ‘in big trouble’ if we are not exceptional

Had an interesting discussion at the DBS Asia Leadership dialogue with DBS CEO Piyush Gupta. We talked about many things, including how Singapore can remain a special place in the world, and be a competitive financial hub. Here are some snippets. – LHL

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“The reason why so many countries cannot get the economies right is because if the politics don’t work, the benefits don’t get spread to the right people or broadly enough, or there are vested interests which have to be taken care of, or there’s some divide in the society which cannot be bridged, and you spend your time fighting over that, rather than working together productively.”

said PM Lee Hsien Loong at the DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue.

~~ CNA

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Singapore ‘in big trouble’ if we are not exceptional

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was asked a range of questions during the inaugural DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue yesterday. Here are some excerpts.

What are the two to three things that keep you up at night? 

Mr Lee: I think what can go wrong for Singapore, if you look at the long term, I think you can lose the specialness of this place. A place where people can look at and say “Wow”. The economy prospers, the housing scheme is something special, the city is something special, the education system is world-class. Even healthcare — low spending, good outcomes …

In 20 years’ time, if people are not interested in Singapore and we are not up there, in terms of the quality of our services, in terms of the quality of our living environment, in terms of the kind of country we are ... I think we are in big trouble.

We are today, exceptional. And if we are not exceptional, we are ordinary, I think we are in big trouble and it can easily happen

Singapore today, for all our difficulties, I think internationally, we stand high.

Can we keep that, because that makes a big difference to Singaporeans, not just to how you feel but, really, to the lives (of Singaporeans). And I think that is a big challenge.

How open are we to open immigrant policies so that they will help us continue to rejuvenate our country?

Mr Lee: The short answer is, we want to remain open to talent, we have to manage it and we have to work hard on it and that means effort both by Singaporeans as well as by the foreign people who are working here or the foreign people who decided to make (Singapore home).

Low wages in many occupations are due to a large supply of foreign workers, not low productivity. Will the Government reconsider its aversion to a minimum wage?

Mr Lee: My belief has been that a minimum wage is not going to solve the problem.

If it is modest, it won’t do harm, neither will it do a lot of good.

If it is high, well, then it is going to cause costs to employers and it is going to cause unemployment to the low-wage workers.

So you are not really solving his problem, you are just going to transfer it somewhere else.

I think that remains true but it doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about low-end workers.

We have been working, we have been working very hard, training and upgrading, we got Workfare scheme, which effectively is a wage top-up, but paid by the state, by the Government, rather than by the employer and that makes a very big difference to our workers.

Source : todayonline : Singapore ‘in big trouble’ if we are not exceptional

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Comments :

~~    Thanks PM! During your watch we have achieved the highest per capita GDP in the world.. Yes there are problems like social disparity but I’m glad we have a realistic govt who acknowledges the issue frankly and honestly and is addressing it.

~~  Excellent analysis- we need to constantly keep reinventing ourselves to keep Singapore growing in international stature

~~   Fabulous! A Competent government: “I can’t make everyone a billionaire but I can make sure that everyone earns a good living for himself … ” I Love this quote  I wish this video could be played all over Brazil.

~~   Excellent analysis provided by PM Lee.The big challenge is we can become too ordinary 20 years down the road.
Hope we will not be like Humpty Dumpty ,who fell and could not be put back again.

~~   having come from a struggling economy & now naturalised into singapore after residing here for many years, i can relate very clearly to PM Lee message, I wish Sgp continues to keep its leadership and role model postion for many decades to come

~~    Good in-depth macro and holistic analysis about Spore future. It’s true that our Competent government cannot make everyone a millionaire but can make sure that everyone earns a good living for himself if he work smart and diligently. I wish all of us work towards it and we support each others in this competitive small red dot financial hub 

~~  The government has done good job. Agree we must get our politics right before anything else. We must continue to have the right government to lead the country otherwise we will be in big trouble. However good the government is, it will never to able to please everyone.

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