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


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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 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


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


New media- Are we getting smarter AND wiser?

Singaporeans Say

I have to thank this “new media revolution” for letting me have the chance to air my personal views on events and things that’s happening around us. With a small population of slightly more than 5 million, it seems that we certainly have a wide range of opionions on a wide range of issues, none more so than online media. Issues like the high ministerial slalaries, high public housing prices, COE prices etc are getting a lot of activity online.

However, I would just like to draw on a comment by Mr Lee Kwan Yew in 1 of his speeches or in 1 of his books (I’m not sure which one); Singaporeans nowadays are getting more educated, therefore they’re getting smarter, but not necessarily wiser. I’m not quoting him word for word but the gist of the comment, which is we are getting smarter but not necessarily wiser.

There is a…

View original post 649 more words

Asian Youths Go Overboard on Facebook

Associated PressApple fans entertain themselves with iPads and iPhones while waiting in queue to purchase the iPad 3 in Singapore during its launch in March.

Young people in Singapore and China may need a break from all the time they’re spending online.

A recent survey of youths between the ages of 19 and 26 in Singapore, China and the U.S. by advertising agency JWT found that more than half find it too demanding to keep up with their activities on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Managing their commitments on the social networks – which were designed in part to ease communication between people – is now becoming a chore, according to the survey’s results.

In Singapore, 93% of youths have Facebook accounts – one of the highest percentages in the world – and more than a quarter check their Facebook pages every few hours. One in ten check their pages every minute, and almost all log on to the social networking site once a day. More than half say that this has a negative effect on their jobs or schoolwork.

“Young adults are super wired, and that’s created an ever-present social obligation that’s starting to wear them down. They feel they have to look at and ‘like’ their friends’ photos and status updates to keep up and show they care,” said Angus Fraser, managing director of JWT Singapore.

A growing number of people in Singapore is also plugged in to newer applications like Instagram and LinkedIn – with 16% now signed up to Instagram, and almost 46% logging in to LinkedIn once a day.

In China, nearly two thirds of those surveyed said they felt pressure to be in constant contact with various social media sites – most notably Qzone, Weibo and Ren Ren – with 58% saying that this obligation to social media is stressful. More than half said that this stress has increased from just a year ago.

The Chinese market is one of the most robust in the world for social media, and according to a survey by McKinsey released last month, 91% of Chinese respondents said they visited a social media site in the last six months.

Additionally, the JWT survey found that conversations on social media often permeate spill over into the real world, with 73% in Singapore and 81% in China saying it was important to keep up with social media activity since it is discussed in face-to-face conversations.

In Singapore, where smartphone penetration is the highest in the world at 55%, according to, young adults are most inclined to visit social networking sites when out and while waiting – as well as in the bedroom. One in ten people surveyed admitted to visiting a social networking site while being intimate with a partner, and 17% have used social networking while on a date.

The solution – at least according to JWT – may lie in yet another piece of technology that’s supposed to make life easier. JWT Singapore and Nestle have created a “KIT KAT Social Break Widget” whose name borrows from the Nestle candy bar Kit Kat’s tagline. The widget, which sits on a desktop computer, will allow social media users to automatically “like” photos their friends have tagged them in, and even tweets back short, quick messages – helping to save precious seconds that could be used for more Facebook stalking. It works by letting users program it to auto-reply certain friends and twitter users so they don’t feel ignored.

The popularity of social networking has also spread to Asian politicians. Recently, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joined his Malaysia counterpart Prime Minister Najib Razak in setting up his own Facebook page, using it to respond to Singaporeans who flood the page with questions, concerns and messages of praise.

Some residents were also quick to leave messages warning Mr. Lee not to spend as much time on Facebook as they do, saying this might be “distracting,” according to one visitor to the site.

By Shibani Mahtani
May 9, 2012, The Wall Street Journal 
Link : Asian Youths Go Overboard on Facebook 

Three ways to get netizens to be responsible

Dr Yaacob speaking to participants at a Singapore Press Club event yesterday. He prefers a ground-up approach for a code of conduct and says the community has evolved and there are enough moderating voices online. — ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A more balanced and responsible Internet can be achieved if everyone – not just the Government – pitches in, said Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday.

Speaking at a dialogue organised by the Singapore Press Club, he outlined three ways to achieve the goal.

One is for the Internet community to create and uphold a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour.

There had been discussion on whether the Government should take the lead in producing the code, but he preferred a ground-up approach.

His reason: ‘Because all of us have to decide how new media will help develop a good society and what values our young should grow up with.’

Asked later why he thought this was more feasible, Dr Yaacob said the community has evolved, and there are enough moderating voices online.

He disclosed that when the Government announced the idea of the code last year, some individuals had contacted his ministry to ask if they could take part in the process.

This, he said, shows ‘there are people out there who want to make sure the Internet doesn’t get killed by the downsides… and they are prepared to be part of the process’.

These downsides, he said, include how rumours and hoaxes can spread like wildfire online.

Dr Yaacob cited two recent cases.

One was the rumour that children were being kidnapped.

The other was of a boy being targeted by netizens for upsetting his neighbours with his noisy playing of the drums. It turned out later that they had fingered the wrong person.

Dr Yaacob’s second suggestion on how to get netizens to behave more responsibly is for more Singaporeans to set up websites that offer constructive and serious viewpoints. He offered it in his response to a participant’s question on the divide between mainstream media and new media.

‘It’s really a buffet in a sense, where more is being offered to people to read. If there are no good online sites or platforms that offer good views, people would naturally gravitate to the ones that are more popular and available,’ he said.

Finally, major media companies could help ‘set the right tone online’, said Dr Yaacob.

He noted that Singapore’s media model is one based on forging consensus and facilitating nation-building, in which social cohesion is preserved while empowering people to make informed decisions as a society.

Towards this end, traditional media companies can lead by example with good practices in information sharing and exercising moderation on their online platforms, he said. ‘We can encourage information and viewpoints that inform and evaluate, and not disturb and divide,’ he added.

About 90 media professionals were at the dialogue, which started with Dr Yaacob giving a speech on traditional and online media in the new normal.

Other questions he fielded included the Government’s engagement with its people and media coverage of the ongoing vice-ring court case.

A Vietnamese journalist asked if the local media was going too far in publishing the names and faces of those charged. She said the families of those accused would be affected.

Dr Yaacob said he shared her sentiments on the family impact but noted that as the cases are being heard in open court, ‘you can’t prevent the newspapers from reporting on it. That’s what the media is supposed to do’.

He added: ‘In terms of coverage, we leave it to the better judgment of the media providers. I think good sense has prevailed and will continue to prevail on the part of the media.’

Background story

1 The Internet community creates a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour

2 Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoints

3 Major media companies could help set the right tone online

By Tessa Wong

Link : 3 ways to get netizens to be responsible


Your Voice :

  • I agree with this, but it’ll be extremely difficult to enforce. Some people are already observing unspoken rules of conduct, but others are not. For instance, where exactly do you draw the line? It’s difficult to say. And who is monitoring? Nobody. Good, but unless everybody is responsible for their own postings, it won’t work.
    Plus if everybody was responsible, we won’t need this.
  •  think the aims is to get admin of major website to enforce the COC.
    If yahoo, ST, Today, EDMW, TOC & TRE can enforce the COC on their website and FB page, that would be a sizeable population of the netizen.