Rosy outlook for Singapore

MM Lee predicts another 10 years of prosperity

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, gazing into the future, sees continued prosperity in Singapore over the next five to 10 years, even if there is a slowdown in the United States and Europe.

Predicting that China and Europe will grow between 8 to 10 per cent, Singapore will – with the integrated resorts and Formula One coming on stream – be at a new level after five years to take off to new heights in growth, with a robust inflow of tourists, capital and talent into the Republic.

“At the end of the five years, I think we should be on a new platform. The old Singapore we are leaving behind.

“And if that continues for another five years, we will be like, say, Italy or Austria, which isn’t bad, considering that we started off with zero reserves after independence in 1965,” he said, speaking at a dinner to mark the 40th anniversary of the Institute of South East Asian Studies (Iseas).

He might well be around to see that happen – “if we take care of our growing pile of chips, remember we will be then playing at a bigger table and so, we must be practical, don’t rush, move cautiously,” he said, reminding his audience that Singapore did take its chances well in the ’60s, when nobody gave the Republic much chance of survival.

But as to whether Singapore would grow into a gracious society where, for example, motorists give way to one another, he was not that confident. It would take a long time, he said. “Maybe not even in 50 years and I will not be around to see that happen.”

But Singaporeans had come some way. Forty-five years ago, “we were living in shanties, a hole in the ground for a toilet and some took their chickens with them when they moved into high-rise apartments”.

Mr Lee, who took a variety of questions from the audience, which included business leaders, academics and diplomats, had this to say about Myanmar: “Thailand, China and India can have an influence on Myanmar. The rest of Asean, we are background mosaic.

“Because you are dealing with leaders with fixated minds, quite convinced that they got the natural resources to weather any sanctions, they can dispense with the world. They got China, they got India and the Thais wanting to trade with them.

“I personally have given up trying to solve this problem. I leave it to the Singapore Foreign Ministry to sort things out.”

Source : Today – 8 Jan 2008

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