Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his achievements and regrets

Source link  :CNA -> PM Lee on his achievements and regrets, after a decade at the helm

SINGAPORE: As the nation gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, Singapore should take the occasion to take stock and focus on its vision for the years ahead, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with Singapore journalists earlier this week.

In his first such interview since reaching the milestone of 10 years at the helm, Mr Lee touched on a broad range issues, such as the evolving political landscape, the challenges facing Singapore and Singaporeans, and his vision for the country.


image from PM Lee’ fb

ON WHAT HE IS PARTICULARLY SATISFIED WITH

“I would say putting a lot of emphasis on education. Right from the beginning, my first National Day Rally, I remember one of my themes was on the young. And we were talking about the schools – ‘teach less, learn more’ – and getting people to get the maximum out of their education.

“We’ve followed through on that in many ways, investing in the schools, Edusave, resources for the principals, making sure every school is a good school, developing tertiary education, building up the ITEs. I’ve now opened all three of them – the East, the West and most recently, and the best of all, I think is the Central campus.

“We’ve expanded our polytechnics and upgraded our polys and they are now a very attractive option for many young people.

“We’ve expanded university education. SUTD was one manifestation. It means a lot more young people are getting into our universities now and we are expanding the numbers further and opening up new paths with UniSIM, with SIT (Singapore Institute of Technology), and we are talking about beyond formal education, skills future, lifelong learning.

“I think it is not a single decision, but it is a continuing, consistent emphasis over a long period of time and successive capable, strong Education Ministers supported by competent and passionate professionals. I think that is very important to our future.”

ON HIS GREATEST REGRET

“In retrospect, it’s easy to say that we should have been building up our infrastructure a lot faster; that we should have got our trains running; that we should have got our HDB flats built more.

“At that time, we thought we were doing the right thing, pacing it, measuring it out, building it when we needed it and not spending resources until we needed to spend them. It turned out that things didn’t pan out the way we expected and I think in the future, we have to plan less conservatively, and try to be less precise in our prognostications.

“You want to predict what’s going to happen.”

ON THE POPULATION WHITE PAPER

“I think there was a strong emotional reaction when we put out the White Paper. In retrospect, if we have had a bit more time to prepare the ground, to explain it, to soft sell and prepare people to understand what it is that is the issue and what we are trying to do, we should have done better. But that’s water under the bridge.

“I can understand the reactions of people because they are not reacting on the basis of reading a paper and then trying to take a dispassionate, almost academic approach, to what should be done. They are reacting on the basis of their direct context – colleagues at work, people on MRT trains, public places where foreign workers may gather – and they have a reaction, to say things have changed.

“I am not surprised there is some such anxiety among Singaporeans. I think we have worked hard at this. We have calibrated the policies, we have slowed down the inflows, we have tightened up on foreign workers. In fact, it is causing employers a lot of pain.

“We will continue to adjust to get the balance as right as we can, but I don’t think we are able to relax because we have to continue in a sustainable way. But neither are we able to say: ‘We go to zero and let’s do away with all these people. We don’t need them to build our trains, we don’t need them to make houses. We don’t need them to serve us noodles in the middle of the night when we go down to the hawker centre.’ I think that is not practical.

“People ask me: ‘Next year, what is the growth?’ Or ‘Ten years from now, what will Singapore be?’ The answer is what I can guess, but actually a lot depends on what we do, a lot depends on how the world goes. We have to be prepared for a wide range of outcomes and insure ourselves.”

ON HIS USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

“I think it makes me a lot more conscious in pitching what I want to say, to ask myself: How will I distil this down in a form which somebody can digest on Facebook or Instagram? On Twitter it is very hard. It’s 140 characters, I can just put a bit, but please click on this bit.ly to read more.

“But on Facebook, you can say a bit more, on Instagram, if you choose the right picture, the picture can tell a lot of stories. So it makes me a lot more conscious of the way I boil down my messages down into small chunks, and also the timing and the sense of the messages. You cannot always be putting out long, learned dissertations on some cosmic issue or other.

“There are times when you have to be light-hearted. There are times when you see a beautiful sunset, you share it with people and hope that they enjoy it with you. When you catch an owl somewhere in the Istana, maybe somebody is interested to see the owl. It’s something unusual and personal. And I think that is helpful.

“But it’s necessary, through Facebook, Instagram or whatever the next new thing is coming – I’ve not gone into Snapchat yet – to have not just light banter, but really some serious response, serious content as well.”


image from PM Lee’ fb

ON FUTURE ELECTIONS

“I think it must change. I’m not sure which way it will change. We are in a very unusual situation where there is a clear consensus for the ruling party, for the People’s Action Party.

“There’s desire for alternative views, but basically Singaporeans want the PAP to govern Singapore. And if you ask the opposition party, whether it’s the Workers’ Party or SDP (Singapore Democratic Party), nobody says: ‘Vote for me, I will form the Government, I will be the Prime Minister, I will run this place better’. Nobody.

“So in that situation, for the Government to continue to maintain support and to be able to carry the consensus of the population over the long term – I think it’s very important. Will it remain the present situation exactly today? I don’t think so. How will it change? I cannot say.

“It depends on voters. It depends on how the new MPs and ministers we bring in bond with the people. It depends on what situations we run into. If we run into a turbulent situation, I think people will be very worried about the dangers and there will be a flight to safety. If you are in a peaceful and prosperous environment, people will say: ‘This is the way the world is, why do you need the Government? We can prosper without the Government.’

“So there is no safety net, no certainty that what we have now is going to continue. And each election is a very serious contest for who is going to form the next Government.”

ON THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION

“I think there’ll be quite a few (new candidates). You have already seen some of them, so you can do an estimation.

“(The number of Group Representation Constituencies) will be decided by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee. But at the last General Election, the average number of MPs assigned to each GRC went down, and there were a few more SMCs (Single Member Constituencies). I am satisfied with that.

“In principle, every MP should be able to contest on his own to keep his constituency. I think every MP should be prepared for this because they won’t be able to know whether the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee will carve out an SMC from their GRC. The objective of having GRCs is to ensure we will have minority representation in Parliament. I think this is still necessary, so we definitely will not change the GRC system.

“There is no institution that can guarantee it will never be overturned. Even if you don’t hold elections, there may still be revolutions. So in Singapore, if everyone just assumes the Government will not be unseated and votes as he wishes, I think that is a very dangerous assumption.”

ON HIS SUCCESSOR

“It’s very possible (my successor) is already in the current Cabinet line-up, but it’s not an absolute because I want to bring in a group of new candidates with strong leadership potential in the next election. I believe we should be able to find my successor from the previous two elections or the next one.

“Times have changed, and his background would also be different. He would need some time to establish his authority, to let Singaporeans know his character, his working style and his leadership abilities. In other countries, it’s quite rare to find a Prime Minister that has had many years of experience before leading a country.

“But he may not be a stranger.”

ON THE NARRATIVE FOR SINGAPORE

“I think that for the next phase, the narrative cannot be a single word, nation-building. It has to be that we live in Singapore, we have a home, this is a place which is quite special, if you travel, you would know it’s very special. Not just if you travel to developing countries and backward areas.

“If you travel to developed countries, you would know that this is a place where you don’t find the same kind of multiracial mix, you don’t find the same kind of opportunities as you would in Singapore and many places.

“I think we can make this something really outstanding for ourselves and our children. And for Singapore, as well as for the individual, we have to work at it … it’s not easy, but we have the resources, and if we can work at it, it will be better.

“Better to do what? Better for you to fulfil what you want to do in life. We accommodate one another, we are not just so many individual human beings but a society. In Singapore we get on together, and I think we can have a good future, a bright future.”

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Chan Chun Sing : Dr Chee Soon Juan betrayed his own mentor, Mr Chiam See Tong.

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Response to Huffington Post articles “Without Freedom There is No Free Trade” and and “Free the Singapore Media and Let the People Go” by Chan Chun Sing

Your website has given Dr Chee Soon Juan considerable but undeserved attention and space. You perhaps believe that he is a weighty political figure in Singapore. He is nothing of the kind.

Dr Chee has stood for elections thrice – and lost badly all three times, once receiving just 20% of the vote.

The party he now leads, the Singapore Democratic Party, was once the leading opposition party in the country. But that was when it was led by Mr Chiam See Tong, a man everyone in Singapore, political friend and foe alike, regards as an honourable man.

Indeed, it was Mr Chiam who brought Dr Chee into the SDP in 1992. He mentored the younger man and promoted him. Dr Chee then proceeded to betray Mr Chiam, isolate him and force him out of the SDP, a party that he had founded in 1980 and had nurtured over 14 years. Since then the SDP hasn’t won a single seat in Parliament, though Mr Chiam himself went on to win elections repeatedly.

In 1993, Dr Chee was dismissed from the National University of Singapore for misappropriating research funds and for other serious misconduct, including surreptitiously recording conversations with university staff.

He has been sued for defamation not only by ruling party politicians, a fact that he likes to trumpet in the foreign media, but also by the doyen of the opposition in Singapore, Mr Chiam, a fact that he doesn’t mention because it is embarrassing.

And in 1996, Dr Chee and three of his associates were convicted of perjury by Parliament tor submitting false statements to a Special Parliamentary Committee. This is the equivalent of Congress convicting someone of perjury, a most serious offence.

It is because of these and other failings that Dr Chee is a political failure — not because he was persecuted, as he likes to pretend. His party is now one of the weakest political parties in Singapore principally because voters do not regard its leader as an honourable man.

Dr Chee was disqualified from contesting the last two General Elections because he was declared a bankrupt in 2006 for failing to pay damages for libel to former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2012 after the former Prime Ministers agreed to accept a reduced sum in damages. Since then Dr Chee has been campaigning to redeem himself in the public eye in preparation for the next General Election.

As he has done in the past, he has looked to the foreign media for redemption, chiefly because foreign journalists don’t know him as well as Singaporeans and he believes he can beguile them into believing he is the Aung San Suu Kyi of Singapore politics. Dr Chee, however, claims he is forced to publish in the foreign media because he has been silenced in the Singapore media.

But this is false. There are several socio-political websites in Singapore, some with as wide a reach among Singaporeans as the Huffington Post has among Americans. They have run several articles by Dr Chee. The local press also has carried several of Dr Chee’s letters.

Dr Chee’s problem is not that he has not been heard by Singaporeans. His problem is that they have.

Sincerely,

Chan Chun Sing

Minister for Social and Family Development, Singapore
Source link  : CNA – >  Chan Chun Sing rebuffs Huffington Post for running articles by Chee Soon Juan

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DR LIU THAI KER’S VIEW ON POPULATION GROWTH

Article and image Source – The Peak Magazine

Capturedsfjgkhtu

Forget seven million. Think ten million people, if you want this city-state to succeed. That’s the bold suggestion of Dr Liu Thai Ker, often credited as the architect of modern Singapore.

Denyse Yeo 07 Oct 2014 Dr Liu Thai Ker, October 2014, population, singapore

For many Singaporeans, the idea of a 6.9-million strong population by 2030 as outlined in the Population White Paper is still hard to swallow. So when Singapore’s former chief planner, Dr Liu Thai Ker, recently said the country should aim for 10 million instead, there were howls of protest and disbelief online and off.

But the former head of both the Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority is adamant that his controversial estimation, made at a recent seminar, is correct.

In an hour-long interview at his Scotts Road office, he says: “As urban planners, we should look at the need. We must plan long-term so that we will not run out of land. Because if you run out of land, nobody is going to help you. After we focus on the need, then we should find a solution.

“But the voices that I hear from social circles, newspapers, is to look at limitations first. ‘We don’t have land, so how can we look at population?’ If that’s the case, would people say since we don’t have money, we don’t eat tonight? But eating is the priority.

“City planning is the same. The need is to plan for 10 million and then break the limitation, rather than say, ‘oh, we have a limitation and then we don’t plan for 10 million.’ That’s getting the priority wrong.”

Currently senior director of RSP Architects & Engineers as well as the founding chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities, Dr Liu, 76, has some ideas although he declines to be drawn into a discussion of what the city will look like when it hits the magic 10-million mark – it would be too “irresponsible”, he says.

His broad vision includes keeping all the green spaces, landed properties, heritage areas and existing medium and high density areas, then scatter people across the island.

How? By going further on to the suggestions made in the White Paper and the Singapore Concept Plan of the country being divided up into five regions – central, north, south, east and west – with their own regional centres.

With 10 million residents, Singapore will become a megacity, made up of five smaller cities. He envisions that each city will have a population of two million, “just a little less than Kuala Lumpur… with its own Central Business District, hotels and cultural centres”.

He points to the fact that in 1960, Singapore’s population size was 1.89 million, “equivalent to each of these regions”. “When you plan like this, your whole concept of MRT lines must be different from now… You also have to build universities in the eastern region, for example, and redistribute facilities.

“But we must try. By not looking long-term, we may at best be doing remedial work. It’s like giving aspirin to a patient. When you talk about 10 million, you are doing surgery.”

Dr Liu, who is the first to admit that he is “talking as an outsider” since he’s no longer in government, clearly has lofty ideals. It’s in him when he says: “Everything I’ve said is to aim for creating a city that functions perfectly.

“We have to aim for perfection so that we can live with human failures. But if we aim for imperfection, it will be worse. Singapore functions almost perfectly. It’s one of the most efficient cities in the world, because we planned long term…

“The story of Singapore’s urbanisation from 1960 to today is a story of how when we face a problem, we face a problem bravely and squarely and created our own solutions, such as home ownership for all…

“In terms of urban planning, clarity equals courage. The story of our achievement in urban planning today comes from the fact that the political leaders and the planners and engineers thought through the problem very carefully, not in piecemeal but in totality until we achieved clarity.

“When we achieved clarity, we had the courage to implement (policies) even when we acted against world trends.” Singapore, despite being poor in the 1960s, introduced pollution control, a radical decision at the time.

Asked to name the challenges that Singapore has if it faces a 10-million population and Dr Liu shoots back. Think big picture, he appeals, saying: “Don’t try to immediately picture the worst scenario. Can you use your imagination to picture a nicer scenario?

“Our natural instinct to look at the worst possibility. But when you are always looking at the worst possibilities, you get nowhere. You convince yourself to do nothing, to bury your head in the sand. But that’s not a responsible way of doing things.”

Ultimately, for Singapore to remain sovereign, it must plan for the long haul. The 10-million figure is just a start. “If we plan for anything less than that, I just feel that we will be sorry.

“If we run out of land and population needs continue to increase, what do we do? Then we have to take away the parks, the landed properties and heritage buildings, and we also find that the MRT lines don’t really work. Is that something we want?

“We need to focus on the need rather than the limitation, and our achievement as a city in the last 50 years shows that we are capable of finding solutions.”

http://sg.thepeakmagazine.com/2014/10/feature-liu-thai-ker-2/

Check Mate is not scare-mongering

Overheard from Calvin Cheng :

Anti Government brigade has been vexed by PM Lee’s comment that if there are too many checks in parliament, it could lead to a ‘check mate’. They have used this to accuse the PM of scare-mongering again, and being out-of-touch with voters desires.

This is not scare-mongering. We have seen in many places this happening. The US has not been able to pass any substantial legislation since Obamacare when the Democrats both held the House and the White House; they have even steered the Government onto the verge of bankruptcy as a result of being deadlocked about the budget. The remaining 2 years of Obama’s Presidency will be more of the same, now that the Republicans control Congress. Recently, Belgium was without a Government for 535 days. Sweden’s current minority-government collapsed 3 days ago after just 2 months in power, when they were unable to pass their Budget.

Nobody has said that we shouldn’t have an opposition, if it is a good, strong opposition.

DPM Tharman has said as much. What hurts the country – any country – is when political parties put politics above a nation’s interest. 

What we want are alternative ideas, not empty rhetoric about ‘checks-and-balances’. We want parties to present alternative visions for Singapore, as well as their ability to execute them. 


‘First World Parliament’, ‘Co-Driver’ – these are just empty words.

That is what is meant by a Democracy of Deeds..

We want action. Not words.

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more overheard :

  • Scaremongering is telling people to vote for anyone but PAP to prevent Singapore from being ‘sold to foreigners’, ‘systematically bred out’ or the funniest of all – from being bankrupted. And showing no credible evidence to back such talk.

    Yeah, looking at AHPETC I’m full of confidence towards the alternative.

 

  • We should choose to be as just forgiving to the Ruling Party we are to the Opposition. The PAP has rectified so many problems. The past is the past. No point living in the past and keep on harping on it. Isn’t this a mantra of life as well about living in the present, planning for the future and moving on from the past?

    If we are talking about the past, didn’t the WP fare worse? Look at the stuff that they brought up in Parliament. Hardly any substance . Look at the way they run the Town Councils. Red flags year after year. Look at the way they go about flouting rules. Yet, we choose to have double standards when we talk about the past. And, yes, some of us still choose to believe that the Opposition can play a checking role on the PAP. Come on, the PAP members are the ones who provide the robust debates and checks on the policies. Even, the NMPs are doing better than the elected Opposition and Mr Giam. So, I urge Singaporeans to stat thinking of what’s best for our nation in the long run.

 

  • All liberal democracies — and there are several different types and degrees of liberal democracies as distinct from fascist democracies or communist democracies, all of which share common intellectual roots — are meant by design to be slightly dysfunctional as check and balances on the absolute exercise of power. But the empirical fact is that in almost every western liberal democracy and in the contemporary Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese and post-Suharto Indonesian variants, the dysfunctionality has been taken to such extremes that the quality of governance has been seriously compromised and in extreme cases only idiots voluntarily enter politics leading to serious leadership deficits. This is what our PM is, overly gently in my opinion, pointing out.

    Alas too many of our compatriots, particularly the self styled critical thinkers, the attention seeking misfits, the rejected politicians, unsuccessful former civil servants, mediocre academics and failed novelists, see, or profess to see, the dysfunctional as desirable in itself and seek to ape failed systems. I suppose it gets them invited to the soirees of the less discriminating of western diplomats and journalists. I do not begrudge them the opportunity to guzzle at the trough but I am concerned if the majority of our compatriots take them more seriously than warranted.

 

  • Political parties with different viewpoints, vision and manifesto would not reach a consensus please. It is how they will garner votes. The politicians of different parties will only bicker hence they will not work with each other. The voters play a big part as in how to charter the future direction of a country is believing in the political party manifesto that would deliver.

    If you want Singapore a welfare state please vote in the oppositions they will use that to garner votes, if you prefer Singapore do not becomes a welfare state pls vote the ruling party. If ever Singapore become a welfare state, majority do not welcome higher taxes and they will follow herd instinct to enjoy welfare benefits including me why pay higher income tax? If taxes are not raise where would the govt find money to fund the budget spending not risking the sound and positive fiscal situation .

 

  •  I’m afraid we may end up in a dead heat parliament not by choice. There are folks who don’t give a toss about how ineffective WP’s is or how outlandish and outright impractical the likes of csj’s politics mean. They just don’t like the PAP and believe that the way to change every ill at one fell swoop is to change the government in charge. 
    I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry when folks think like that. Progressive change seems to be out the window these days. Instant tree syndrome prevails.

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Photo: Keep replacing “doer, thinker and leader” with jiak liao bee "checker", eventually it will be checkmate for Singapore! 

Mr Lee Hsien Loong: "Only the PAP is bringiing different groups together. Only the PAP is solving problems and planning for the future. Only the PAP is putting forth a vision for Singapore. In short, only the PAP truly cares for our people and the future of our children and grandchildren 

The Opposition does not see any duty to bring people together, solve problems and plan for the future. Every time we put out a popular policy, they say "Do More"  But they do not say How. They do not say whom they will "Take from", in order to "Give more." They do not articulate any vision for Singapore, because they say they cannot form the government.

In the meantime, the opposition tells people: Vote for me so that I can check on the PAP, and make the Prime Minister and his team work harder.

If everyone accepts what they say, we will only have politicians checking each other – and gridlock like in other countries. 

There is no running away from the truth: for every one more “checker” we have in the Parliament, there will be one less “doer, thinker and leader” in the Government, to serve the nation, to serve the people.

Eventually, there will be no PAP to check, no able team of ministers working and solving problems for Singaporeans, no progress for Singapore. That will be the last check, because it will be checkmate for Singapore!"

image : Fabrications About The PAP

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“Rising costs related to an ageing demographic would be offset by Singapore’ s CPF system”. Moody’s affirms Singapore top-level Aaa rating

Moody’s affirms Singapore top-level Aaa rating
Singapore’s Central Business District skyline. TODAY file photo

Published: June 19,  news  source link ->Moody’s affirms Singapore top-level Aaa rating

Moody’s affirms Singapore top-level Aaa rating

Stable outlook expected to remain over next 12 to 18 months

SINGAPORE — Moody’s Investors Service today (June 19) reaffirmed Singapore’s top-tier Aaa credit rating, citing the Republic’s “very strong fiscal and debt metrics, strong growth outlook over the coming five years, and an extraordinarily large net external creditor position”.

In a press statement accompanying the release of its Singapore credit analysis report for investors, the ratings agency assessed the credit profile of the city-state according to the four areas of its Sovereign Bond Rating Methodology:

• Economic Strength: Very High (-)

• Institutional Strength: Very High (+)

• Fiscal Strength: Very High (+)

• Susceptibility to Event Risk: Very Low

Singapore’s long-term issuer rating — Aaa with a stable outlook — is unlikely to change over the next 12 to 18 months, “given the government’s very strong credit fundamentals”, Moody’s said.

But the ratings agency noted credit challenges on the horizon, including the possibility of regional political or economic instability, rising domestic social pressures due to a rise in the cost of living and “other side effects stemming from the implementation of the government’s economic restructuring programme”.

To stay credit positive at the highest ratings level, Moody’s recommended that Singapore maintains “a market-friendly and fiscally prudent economic policy approach”.

In giving Singapore the fiscal strength rating of “Very high (+)”, Moody’s cited the country’s “very strong fiscal and government debt metrics, which are supported by a prudent fiscal policy framework, the specific nature of the Singapore government securities market, and sizeable government assets”.

“These will help mitigate the expected medium-term impact from an ageing society on both government revenues and expenditures,” said Moody’s, adding that the rising costs related to an ageing demographic would be offset by the country’s CPF system.

“Singapore’s fully funded compulsory pension system and the absence of a comprehensive government-funded social welfare system mitigate future liabilities,” the statement read. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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What the alternatives would say :

When it’s a negative report of Singapore, they say it’s reliable.
When it’s a positive report of Singapore, they say it’s unreliable.

images source : The Silent Majority – Singapore

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Singapore is confronting the perils of please-all economics.

Came across this thoughtful piece by Andy Mukherjee over the weekend. It explains clearly the issues and trade-offs Singapore faces in building our ideal society, while ensuring that Singaporeans have jobs and economic opportunities to build better lives and a brighter future.

As the article points out, we do enjoy important advantages compared to other countries, but it will still not be easy. There are serious trade-offs, which we must be willing to acknowledge and address. If we just pretend that everything can be better, and no hard choices are necessary, we will get into trouble. Mukherjee calls this “please-all economics”, and expresses confidence that Singaporeans are too pragmatic to fall for it. We must make sure that he is right. – LHL

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The perils of please-all economics

Source link – > The perils of please-all economics
Published on Jun 14, 2014 7:39 AM,  By Andy Mukherjee

Singapore is confronting the perils of please-all economics. Ageing citizens are pushing the Government for bigger nest eggs and more subsidised health care and housing. There is also popular resentment against letting more foreigners in, and not much appetite for increasing the 7 per cent consumption tax. Squaring this fiscal circle will be a long-term challenge.

Already, there’s simmering anger in the city-state about overcrowded trains and costly public housing. About 2,000 people gathered recently to demand that the state-run retirement plan raise its 4 per cent annual interest rate.

People protested last year, too, when the Government unveiled a plan to boost the resident population by 30 per cent to 6.9 million by 2030, with immigration compensating for a drooping birth rate.

The multifaceted discontent puts Singapore’s fiscally conservative Government in a quandary.

Expanding the economy – and the tax base – with less foreign labour will mean improving the productivity of the local workforce. That’s a long shot.

Another way to pay for everything people want is to tax companies more heavily. But Singapore’s business costs are already quite high. A third strategy could be for the city-state to try to earn more on its substantial sovereign wealth by buying riskier assets. That could backfire, leaving less money for welfare.

Alternatively, the Government could skimp on investing. The outlay on the city’s development budget in the most recent five- year period has jumped by a third.

Slowing the pace might be a mistake, however. Pricey real estate would swoon if Singapore loses its urban buzz and stops attracting investors and tourists. That will make Singapore’s property- loving citizens less wealthy and more miserable. The trade-offs are difficult.But Singapore has some advantages.

Rival Hong Kong is facing an existential threat as China tightens its grip on the former British colony and boosts alternatives like Shanghai. By contrast, Singapore offers investors proximity to India and Indonesia, neither of which will boast a global city soon.

For all the grumbling, the majority of Singaporeans are too pragmatic to opt for unbridled welfarism at the next elections, which will take place by 2016.

Still, please-all economics is scratching at the door. If it finds a way in, prosperity could be in jeopardy.

Andy Mukherjee is a columnist with Reuters BreakingViews.

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Overheard:

  • Sadly, many Singaporeans have lost their sense of pragmatism, overhlemed by deceit and emotionalism- want 1st world perks but only willingly to pay 3rd world rates. Most times, anti – government commentators have no real feel of the challenges confronting Singapore at the global and regional arenas.

    Well, PAP had made policy mistakes , and will continue to do so in the years to come since no man is perfect ; thus its system. However, what is important is that mistakes were acknowledged and rectification measures taken. some cried : ‘ Vote out PAP is 2016 ‘. Seriously, given our limited local talent pool, are there alternatives? I cannot fathom WP, or a coalition of opposition parties as the next government. It will potentially be a disaster given what I have seen and hear in parliament and at the Speakers’ corner .

    Unfortunately, it may take a crisis for Singaporeans to realise the importance of good governance albeit long term damage which we may not be able to recover. This is the price of absurdity and lack of wisdom…….

  • As a Malaysian Chinese, we are constantly reminded that we are migrants, even though our forefathers are born here. Then we have politicians who will scream on front page newspapers asking us to leave, then we have to sell land, sell house so that we can provide education for our children as local university has no placing for them, believe me, I could go on. It saddens me thoroughly, when I think about all these and wonder when all these tortures going to end for all of us. As such, I sold all I’ve worked hard for, to try my luck in my current place, hoping that this place will be a home for my family. Following all these posting by your PM, if I’m a Singaporean, I’ll honour the ground that he and his team walks on. Definitely there’s no pleasing everyone, for me, all I’ve seen is good enough to earned my highest respect. I believed, God didn’t create the perfect human, if their good is more, then I’ll say, that’s a good human.
  • The past generation leaders has it easier when the people rally behind them are united and not split, maybe partly because of the hard line approve that the then Gov took but it works to unite the people and move forward. Now is very different, citizen are divided across political line and no matter how strong or good is the leader, it does not matter anymore. People on either camp are setting up to oppose one another, this will be the demise of our country if people are not united with the Gov of the day and adopting the idea of the next one will always be better. This start the revolving door of leadership that lead to instability.
  • it remains vital to separate important must do’s from selfish and emotional outbursts, stoked largely by the clueless opposition. The intelligent know that PAP does a wonderful job, seeing the larger and long term picture, and doing the best always for its citizens. You will never please all the people all of the time, there will always be noise, and when that is non accusatory without foundation, then it can become an interesting discussion topic. When it is merely baseless innuendo, need it needs to be stamped out, as it is simply not constructive or at all value adding. Keep on going PAP, you are doing the right things, and you will be recognized for that always.
  • Mr Lee, I think the majority of Singaporeans are well educated and they understand it is difficult to please all. What most people are hinging on is the transparency of the investments made by the government which pledges on democracy. Sure, we understand that the government is trying their best. But the important thing is not to identify wrongly the purpose of the noises.
  • I remember having cake on national day and many biscuit after we draw pic when I was in primary school. One things we feel sad that sometimes Singaporean bully our own people and we dunno what to feel. We never give face to our own citizen.
  • PM, in the next 10 years, leaders like you and the cabinet leaders need to engage the population more. Tell us bluntly that if we want this, we cannot have that and vice versa, just like you telling us medisave life have to increase premiums. Continue the honest conversation with us. Thank you!
  • Sir, please put the tradeoffs in the starkest possible way in your Facebook so that we’ll realize the choices we face and not be so ready to listen to irresponsible bloggers who cast things in terms of conspiracy theories and say there’s one simple solution.

    Conspiracy theories are emotionally appealling but they don’t solve problems, and life won’t get better but worse.

  • The trade-offs that Singaporeans need to make are not just internal issues like CPF or health-care but also external threats like those from the Iskandar region.

    With Singapore’s ageing population, and with the TFR refusing to go up despite the govt trying for a few years with incentives, etc, we are not well-positioned to ward off the ‘clear and present’ danger that the rising and looming Iskandar poses to Singapore in terms of attracting away investments and talents to the north!

    They are asking for a third link bridge ‘friendship’ bridge, more high-speed rail-link, MRTs, etc, connections to JB Iskandar so that this siphoning can proceed faster.

    They are building INSTANT Medical hub, INSTANT Logistics Hub, INSTANT Education Hub, INSTANT Biotech Hub, INSTANT CyberHub, INSTANT Financial Hub, etc, just next to Singapore to compete directly with Singapore after they failed with their Port Klang container port. They are launching their attack on a much wider scale now and it’s a matter of time (20-50 years) before they are as good or if not even better than Singapore in all these areas.

    Iskandar is aggressively pulling investors as well as foreign talents to their huge and vast empty land to compete with Singapore and if Singapore doesn’t similarly do so(getting a booster jab of foreign talents), we may lose out to them.

    If Singapore don’t buck up and leap-frog them quickly, Singapore may be left on the shelves! And Singaporeans may in the future have to travel across the causeway to work instead of the other way round currently!

    These are some of the trade-off Singapore and Singaporeans have to make!

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