MM Lee upbeat about Singapore’s growth prospect

The coming decade could be the most promising for Singapore, says Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. But to achieve progress, Singapore must have a top-class government.

Mr Lee shared his views about Singapore’s growth and challenges during a dialogue session hosted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Economics Society of Singapore (ESS) on Friday.

Barring any serious global recession, Mr Lee said Singapore could achieve growth of up to 7 or 8 per cent over the next 10 years.

The optimism sprang from the evolving economic landscape as Singapore adjusts itself to stay competitive. However, in order to make progress, Singapore must have a first-class government.

Mr Lee said the current team will last for two terms, within which they will have to seek and groom talent with energy and integrity.

He said: “The system is there, but the system cannot run with inadequate, mediocre men; you need top men, able men to choose able people to join you, to make sure that at every level you have the most able, the most meritocratic (people) in charge.

“So what is it (that) we are trying to do for the opposition? We are not trying to block them, we are trying to force them to collect a group of MPs or candidates that will equal us in integrity and competence, so that when the time comes, if we fail, they have a team that is equal to us, who can take over.”

On whether liberal democracy is needed to bring about economic success, Mr Lee said different people seek different solutions to problems. What Singapore is doing is to create a system which will have the strongest team in place to lead.

Minister Mentor Lee said: “We are not stupid people, they give us all these advice… International Bar Association, human rights, whatever it is. Who are they, what are they? Have you run a country? Have you ever done a community and created jobs for them, gave them a life? We have, and we know what it requires.”

One requirement is to continue to attract foreign talent, integrate them and build up Singapore’s labour force.

On the whole, Mr Lee said Singapore has not done too badly. But he said he would always be worried about Singapore’s long-term future, because there is little room for mistakes, given Singapore’s population and resources.

The dialogue was held with over 800 guests at the 7th MAS-ESS Essay Competition Awards presentation ceremony. They included economists, industry players from the financial sector and government officials.

The competition focused on growing income disparities in Singapore, and 146 entries were received, which was more than double last year’s submissions.

Organisers said this reflects growing interest among students to analyse and debate socio-economic issues. – CNA/ir

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Jul 2008

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