Updated: 02/18/2014 02:44

Singapore has to balance competitiveness and caring for needy: PM

Singapore has to balance competitiveness and caring for needy: PM

Singapore will have to balance between maintaining its competitiveness and caring about the less well-off as it strives to reduce the income gap. 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this in an interview with China's New Century, a magazine published by Beijing-based media group Caixin, which was published today. 

He says there's a need to keep a balance between the yin, which he described as caring for one another, and the yang, which is the competitive element that drives the society forward. 

If it's tilted too much towards competitiveness, Mr Lee says cohesion and the sense of being Singaporeans together would be lost. 

If the balance is titled the other way, and Singapore doesn't compete, we will all loose. 

He says Singapore needs to do more to "tilt the balance towards the yin side", which means giving greater help to the low-income groups so that they can increase their earnings and their assets. 

Singaporeans would also have to stay connected to the rest of the world, particularly the Asian region, to take advantage of the many opportunities available. 

He believes as society changes so, too, will Singapore's political structure. 

But he adds that we would still want a system which encourages good people to come forward, and a Government that acts in the long term interests of the country.
Something he admits is not easy to do.
In the wide-ranging interview, he also spoke about the challenges that China should pay special attention to, and Beijing's relations with Tokyo. 

Domestically, he said, China needs to continue to restructure its economy so that it will not build up social tensions and it can continue to fulfil its full potential. 

He noted that, internationally, China has become much more active in engaging its partners in pursuing and defending its interests. 

Mr Lee was also asked about ASEAN's goal to achieve economic integration by next year (2015), which he said will be a significant step forward for the region and will lead to more opportunities for its members to prosper together and manage friction. 

Mr Lee also expressed his hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is an agreement set up to enhance trade and investment among several countries including Singapore, the United States, Australia and Japan, will be completed this year.

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