SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singapore’s survival depends on how its people connect with Asia and the world.
In his keynote speech at the inaugural Singapore Summit on Friday evening, Mr Lee stressed the importance of living what he called the Global—Asia story.
The gathering of thinkers and policymakers at the Singapore Summit says a lot about Singapore’s links with Asia and the world.
Mr Lee said that with Asia, Singapore is closely linked to key markets — China, India and ASEAN — while many multi—national corporations are in Singapore.
"Global and Asian forces are constantly at play here, and the country’s survival depends on the Global—Asia story," said Mr Lee.
Even though the last two decades have been a time of tremendous change, excitement and opportunities both in Asia and the world, Mr Lee cautioned that the world faces some risks revolving around the economic troubles in Europe and the US, the trend of rising nationalism and the shift in the strategic balance as China grows stronger.
If these risks materialised, the world will be in for a rough ride, said PM Lee.
"We have to prepare for the risk scenarios just in case they materialise. We need an economy which is resilient, able to cope with a protracted global downturn. We need a strong armed forces and home team of security and police to protect ourselves against security threats and dangers. We need to build social cohesion to strengthen our sense of togetherness.
"While we prepare for this, we also hope that the risks will be successfully contained and on balance I believe this is likely. Therefore we should not neglect to prepare ourselves for a good outcome, that is, for a challenging but bright future."
To prepare for a challenging but bright future, Singapore has to harness and ride on what Mr Lee called the "Global—Asia Confluence".
Singapore can become a springboard for companies venturing into and out of Asia; embrace globalisation but at the same time strengthen itself to cope with the risks.
Singapore also has to build up foreign reserves and strengthen the social safety nets to cope with volatility and uncertainty.
Mr Lee also said the key to meet the challenges is mastering technology to transform Singapore into a Smart City.
At the same time, it has to adapt to the rapid social changes brought about by social media.
PM Lee said: "We are especially affected by this because we are small, we are open, completely English—educated. You don’t even need Google to translate the web for you to understand. We are fully wired up and totally wirelessly accessible. There is no magic formula or handbook for doing this. Nobody has an answer, all are looking for the way forward. We have to exploit fully the Internet and the social media but institute safeguards against its misuse."
If all these can be achieved, Singapore will be a special place to live, work and play at the crossroads of Asia and the world.
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