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PM Lee stresses need for “small states” to cooperate against wars and climate change

“If we do not manage our external relations carefully, our freedom to determine our own destinies can be severely circumscribed, even if we remain nominally sovereign or independent,” said the PM

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Singapore—Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized that Singapore must work together with other small states to advance common interests and overcome challenges.

PM Lee addressed world leaders during a reception of the Forum of Small States (FOSS) on Wednesday (Sept 25).

Currently made up of 107 countries from all economic statuses, the FOSS was launched by Singapore in 1992 and aims to increase the advantage of small countries considered to have a lack of “strategic weight” in the mechanisms of the international system.

“Unlike larger and more powerful countries, small states do not set the agenda or decide the trends. If Singapore disappears tomorrow, the world will probably continue on just fine,” said Mr Lee in a report by CNA.

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“If there is a war, we lack the strategic depth to defend ourselves. If we suffer an extreme weather event, it can take years to rebuild and recover,” he said.

He cited the reality of climate change and rising sea levels in Pacific, Indian, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian island states as a threat to the existence and economics of these countries.

Thus, he said it was important for small states to work towards crafting “enduring solutions” to challenges affecting all countries to make an impact in the world.

“If we do not manage our external relations carefully, our freedom to determine our own destinies can be severely circumscribed, even if we remain nominally sovereign or independent.”

PM Lee explained that while small states may be vulnerable to external threats, they are also better equipped to adapt to changing and unpredictable circumstances.

“With more constrained options, our collective minds are more readily focused. And we are less hampered by regional interests and differences, or multiple levels of government that bigger countries must grapple with,” he said. -/TISG

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