Singapore—In a radio interview with CNA938 on September 27, Friday, that was primarily on the economy but touched on a number of other topics as well, while Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat did not specify when the next General Election will be, he told the hosts, “it is coming nearer each day.”
Earlier in the interview, Mr Heng commented on statistics from the day before from the Economic Development Board that said that the country’s manufacturing output fell 8 percent year on year in August. DPM (and Finance Minister) Heng said that the Government is very closely monitoring the trends in the economy throughout the year, and is prepared to take action if and when it would be necessary.
DPM Heng mentioned that while the economy has been under threat due to trade tensions between China and the United States, there are sectors, including financial and insurance services, that continue to thrive.
He told Arnold Gay and Yasmin Jonkers, the program’s hosts, that the Government has counter-cyclical measures at the ready, and that at this point he does not see the need for an extraordinary Budget.
He assured listeners that the Government is prepared for various scenarios when it comes to the economy.
“MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) is looking carefully at what is the appropriate exchange rate and will be announcing this as part of the normal monetary policy cycle.”
He also mentioned China as one example of a country that is reforming its economy. “When our trading partners change the structure of their economy and upgrade, we too must upgrade, otherwise we’ll be left behind.
We are helping our workers learn new skills, and working with companies to restructure jobs so their workers can do better.”
In response to a question about a possible reshuffle to the Cabinet before the next GE, Mr Heng said he regularly meets with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whom he said has shared “quite a lot of his views” with him.
And while he did not comment on when the next election would be, he did say, “it is coming nearer each day”.
The most important thing is for the country to keep unity and work for common goals, although this can be a challenge as well.
”This is always work in progress… but when it takes on racial or religious dimensions, it can be dangerous.”
He also noted the dangers of single issues becoming overly dominant in national discussions.
”We must work doubly hard to make sure these do not become fault lines. The key is… to look for areas of common interest and concerns for which we can work together.
We are stronger by working together, than by working apart.”
The Deputy Prime Minister also made mention of the country’s vulnerabilities, which makes working together all the more important.
“How we keep ourselves cohesive and united is key to our success. If we spend all our energy fighting over issues big and small and fragment our society, we will be overtaken and not have a good future.”
While larger nations, he said, have the space to disagree on even fundamental issues, Singapore does not. “They can bounce up and down and still survive, but Singapore does not have the luxury of such a wide margin.” -/ TISG