PM Lee: Singapore Tested Again Amid Geopolitical Tensions, Economic Uncertainties

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Picture: Reuters
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - Reuters pic.

In his National Day Rally Speech, PM Lee Hsien Loong said “Singapore feels acutely the pressure mounting all around us.”

SINGAPORE — Having come through COVID-19, Singapore, like any other country, is once again being tested amid geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In his speech for the National Day Rally (NDR) 2023, titled “A Better Home, A Brighter Future”, Lee said: “Singapore feels acutely the pressures mounting all around us”.

The prime minister earlier delivered his NDR speeches in Malay, followed by Mandarin.   

Lee said the rivalry between the United States and China affects every country and region in the world and their mutual wariness and distrust has deepened.

“The rest of the world has to tread a careful path, to avoid being caught in the crossfire,” he said.

Concerned about the raging war in Europe, Lee stressed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a continuing human tragedy and an assault on international norms and values.

“Never Take Peace For Granted”

“It is a cautionary warning to the rest of the world never to take peace for granted and a reminder to us of the vital importance of a strong Singapore Armed Forces,” he said.

Lee also said that the global economic order is fraying and the concept of globalisation is weakening.

“Supply chains are splitting up. Countries are layering on multiple protectionist measures. This hurts all countries, especially small, open trading nations like ourselves,” he said.

Lee said the world is also experiencing more extreme weather due to global warming.

“From China and Japan to Europe and the US, no region is spared from floods and droughts, heatwaves and wildfires.

“This will affect food production and prices worldwide. We have not fully felt it in Singapore yet, but it is coming,” said Lee, adding that economically, Singapore is keeping up.

Positive Growth

The prime minister said he expects positive economic growth this year and hopefully, avoid a recession.

“Inflation is, at last, coming down, but it will probably stay higher than what we were used to. The cost of living is still on everyone’s minds.

“We will weather this storm together,” he assured.

On 11 Aug, the republic’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) narrowed the 2023 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast range to 0.5-1.5 per cent, as the external demand outlook remains weak.

This is down from the previous forecast range of 0.5 to 2.5 per cent.

Retirement

Meanwhile, on 24 July, MTI and the Monetary Authority of Singapore said for 2023, as a whole, headline and core inflation are projected to average between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

Lee also touched on Singapore’s leadership succession plan, noting that in preparing for the future, one crucial task is leadership renewal.

“As you all know, my original plan was to hand over and step down as prime minister by 2022, before my 70th birthday. But the pandemic disrupted this plan.

“Now, COVID is behind us and my succession plan is back on track,” he said, adding that several controversies which have drawn Singaporeans’ attention recently will not delay his timetable for renewal. — Bernama

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