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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was delivering a televised speech ahead of the country’s 57th National Day on August 9, pointed to the geopolitical challenges facing the city state. Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong urges unity as region faces less ‘peaceful and stable’ climate

  • In his annual address, Lee urged Singaporeans to stay united to better tackle global challenges and stressed the importance of a strong military
  • The leader also discussed economic challenges, that the economic outlook has ‘clouded considerably’ given supply chain woes and inflation
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday warned citizens that the region “may not be as peaceful and stable” as it has been in the decades to come, amid a harshening geopolitical environment.
The solution to Singapore’s survival was for its people to stay united. “It is the only way to deal with challenges in an increasingly troubled world,” he said, while stressing the importance of maintaining a strong military.

“We must also brace ourselves and be psychologically prepared that in the next decades our region may not be as peaceful and stable as it has been thus far.”

Lee, who was delivering a televised speech ahead of the country’s 57th National Day on August 9, pointed to the geopolitical challenges facing the city state, including souring ties between the two world powers and the war in Ukraine.

Singapore will continue not to take sides between US and China, says PM Lee

US-China relations, he said, are worsening “with intractable issues, deep suspicions and limited engagement between them”.

“This is unlikely to improve any time soon. Furthermore, miscalculations or mishaps can easily make things much worse,” added Lee.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently concluded trip to Taiwan – which she proceeded with despite rstern warning from the Chinese government – had triggered a series of retaliatory actions from Beijing.
Earlier this week, China halted cooperation with Washington on a range of issues and on Monday announced that it would conduct further drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan, which it views as a renegade province.

Singapore’s Lee had emphasised the importance of stable US-China relations for regional peace and security during his meeting with Pelosi.

Singapore says stable US-China ties crucial as Pelosi keeps mum over Taiwan stop

On the conflict in Ukraine, Lee on Monday said the war has “profound implications” for Singapore and the world. For instance, it has set Russia against many states, especially the US and countries belonging to Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).
The invasion also violated “fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity under the United Nations Charter”, he added. “This is particularly vital to Singapore, because these principles underpin our security, and even our existence.”
“[The] war in Europe will affect regional security in the Asia-Pacific. Already it has further strained China’s relations with the US, and with America’s partners in Asia. Singapore will be buffeted by intense rivalry and tensions in the region around us.”

“Our road ahead will not be easy,” cautioned Lee in his 10-minute annual address.

He also touched on the economic challenges ahead, noting that the economic outlook has been “clouded considerably”.

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The Ukraine war has aggravated supply chain disruptions and high inflation, sending food and energy prices soaring. While the Singapore government has pledged to support its citizens, the reality was that low inflation and interest levels would not return “any time soon”.

Lee also rallied Singaporeans to support Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and his recently launched initiative “ Forward Singapore”, an exercise to refresh the city state’s social compact. The initiative sought to address citizens’ growing concerns about social mobility and workplace discrimination, among other things.

The ruling People’s Action Party has governed Singapore continuously since self-rule in 1959, and has held several such major national consultation exercises in the past, especially during periods of political transition.