Singapore

I want to be on their Facebook feed too

Journalists from the Association of South-east Asian Nations ask PM Lee Hsien Loong about social media, gay marriage & democracy

SOCIAL MEDIA

Editor-in-chief of Vietnam's Thanh Nien newspaper Nguyen Quang Thong called Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a prominent Facebooker and asked if social media is an effective means of strengthening understanding between him and Singaporeans, especially the youth.

PM Lee:

I think it is one avenue which is growing in importance.

If you look at the way young or not-so-young people consume media, more and more people are spending time first on their mobile devices; second, on the messaging type platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even Snapchat. And not so much time on the formal news sites.

So they will not go to BBC, but they expect to see BBC turn up on their Facebook feed or Nantian or whatever it is. And so I want to be there too.

And it does not meet all my needs because sometimes you need to make a speech and it is very difficult to have a one-hour speech in a Facebook post.

But there are people who will be on Facebook who will not often be reading speeches and this is one way to reach them.

GAY MARRIAGE

Philippines' ABS-CBN News Channel broadcast journalist Antonio Velaquez asked PM Lee about his views on gay marriage.

PM Lee:

No, I do not think Singapore is ready.

There is a trend in the developed countries. In America, they have gay marriage. Not all states have agreed.

In Europe, some countries have done it.

So in Singapore, there is a range of views.

There are gay people in Singapore, and they have a place to stay here, and we let them live their own lives.

And we do not harass them or discriminate against them.

But neither, I think, if you ask most Singaporeans, do we want the LGBT community to set the tone for Singapore society.

The society is basically a conservative one.

So individually we have views on gays, on how it happens and how they should fit in.

But the government view is that where we are, I think, it is not a bad place to be.

There is space for the gay community, but they should not push the agenda too hard because if they push the agenda too hard, there will be a very strong pushback.

DEMOCRACY

Bangkok Post assistant news editor Kamolwat Praprutitum asked if there is such a thing as Singapore-style democracy and what stage it is at.

PM Lee:

Well, I don't know whether you call it Singapore-style democracy, but we have a democratic system in Singapore and it works for us.

And we have elections every five years or so, we have a Parliament and we have a President who is also elected directly.

So it is a system which has delivered stable and competent Government for Singapore and one which has a mandate to govern effectively and do what Singapore needs.

It is a system which is evolving over time because our society is changing, expectations are changing and so the way it operates I think will gradually adjust.

So we are looking for our own way forward.

I don't know if you call it a Singapore model for other people to follow, but it is a model which Singapore is making it work for ourselves.

Mr Kamolwat then asked if it was a sign of progress with more opposition MPs in Parliament.

PM Lee:

I think the progress comes from the quality of the discussion in Parliament.

It is not the numbers which count. It is what contributions they make.


There is space for the gay community, but they should not push the agenda too hard because if they push the agenda too hard, there will be 
a very strong pushback.

- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong