TODAY Online - Countries must work together to deal with shared problems: PM Lee

Singapore must continue to be successful to play role in multilateral affairs


PM sees sg moving forward

Sharing his reflections after a series of summits with global leaders over the past week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that many countries today face the common challenges of fighting terrorism, exploring new possibilities in economic development and improving the livelihoods of their people in a slow global environment.

“These are things which concern us, problems which we share in common … How we can work together and cooperate and integrate our economies so that we can mutually benefit, whether it’s talking about global institutions like the (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank, whether it’s talking about the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), whether it’s talking about the ASEAN Community. We all have to work together in order to better our lives and in order to deal with shared problems, including problems between ourselves,” said Mr Lee.

He was speaking to the Singapore media after a week-long trot around the world to attend the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Turkey, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Manila and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits here.

The 10 ASEAN leaders pronounced yesterday that they have become a single community on Dec 31. Among the various supporting mechanisms of the ASEAN Community is the formation of a prosperous and highly competitive economic bloc, known as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

But not all measures under the AEC Blueprint to be completed by the end of this year have been met, with many of the targets being rolled over to next year.

The prime minister said that these issues require “patient” work.

“You go meeting by meeting and item by item, sometimes (it) seems to take a long time. But cumulatively, if you look back to where we were today when we started this process 20 years ago maybe with ASEAN, when we first started having regular ASEAN summit meetings and talking about an ASEAN Free Trade Area, we’ve come a long way.”

He cautioned, however, that much work remains to be done.

“In practice, of course, countries have their own preoccupations and priorities so ASEAN is never the only item on the agenda. There’s always some domestic issue which they’re attending to or some other urgent matter, so they’ve got to trade off. But the fact that we meet means that our officials have got pressure, have got a deadline, have got to settle matters, and show progress.”

Reflecting on Singapore’s relevance to the wider world in the context of SG50, Mr Lee said that the city state has to continue to be successful, constructive, trusted and reliable in order for it to continue playing a role in multilateral affairs.

“If Singapore is not a successful country, then attending these high-level meetings would not be very meaningful because people know that we say one thing, but whether we can deliver is another matter,” he said in Mandarin. “You may not always agree (with Singapore) but people know that you (Singapore) are straight, you are dealing with them, and we can do business,” he added in English.

Source: TODAY Online

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