Singapore—Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talked about the next General Election at the People’s Action Party (PAP) convention on November 10, Sunday, characterizing the upcoming GE as “high stakes, not masak masak,” a Malay term denoting child’s play.
He added, “Others will be watching us closely to see if the PAP wins a strong mandate, especially at a time of leadership transition.”
Strong leadership was also a recurrent theme in the Prime Minister’s speech. According to a report from Channel NewsAsia (CNA), he emphasized the need for the country to have a leader who is confident of people’s complete support and is able to “negotiate skillfully” in order to minimize tensions stemming from bilateral issues.
PM Lee discussed current problems in other parts of the world, wherein people have lost their trust in their leadership, mentioning an example from Chile, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit had been cancelled because of mass protests due to various social problems in healthcare, public transport costs, and others.
He also talked about Hong Kong, wherein he said that “young Hong Kongers are deeply unhappy with their government. But the angst and pessimism is also about social and economic issues. Their young people feel that no matter how hard they study or work, there is no path to a better future.”
The Prime Minister added that while Singapore is “not immune” to similar problems, “the anger and frustration that have divided societies elsewhere have not taken root here,” which would be detrimental to the country.
“And if it happens to us the consequences will be worse for us than other countries, may even be irreparable, because we are so small and so vulnerable,” he said.
Concerning the ongoing trade tensions between the two biggest economies in the world, China and the United States, PM Lee talked about how difficult this is for Singapore, “because we are friends with both countries,” the CNA report said.
“We have every reason to want good relations with them, and minimise friction,” he added.
As for the country’s closest neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, PM Lee said that Singapore has had good relations with both countries, despite challenges when it comes to issues such as water or airspace disputes.
He said, “For all these issues, my approach is to be constructive. Don’t politicise the issue, or clash with them and damage the overall relationship.
Discuss matters calmly, government-to-government, behind closed doors. Try hard to find a win-win solution that also secures our long-term interests.”
He added, “Managing these external issues will not be easy. We will need a capable government.
Leaders who are tactful but firm, who can negotiate skillfully to defuse bilateral issues, and who are confident that they have the full backing of the people.”
We must convince Singaporeans to give us a strong mandate. Not just to return a strong PAP government, but also to secure Singapore for the long term.”