Singapore

Be friends with other countries, but never fall under their influence: PM Lee

Singapore must never let another country influence its domestic debate and politics, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the People's Action Party convention yesterday.

"While we are friends with many countries, we must never inadvertently fall under foreign control or influence," said PM Lee.

Such influence can be open or covert, and can divide and weaken Singapore, he told 2,000 party activists in a speech, which was also broadcast on Facebook.

PM Lee cited Australia's worries about foreign influence, and America's accusations against Russia of trying to influence its presidential elections last year through Facebook and Twitter.

"Can it happen to us? Yes, it can. But we must prevent it from happening," he said.

His comments come three months after Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy academic Huang Jing was expelled as "an agent of influence of a foreign country" by the Government.

Singaporeans have to understand the core interests of the country, said PM Lee.

"When we are put to the test, we will stay united and back the Government.

"Then we can stand our ground and defend Singapore's interests as one single, cohesive country," he said.

Right now, Singapore has good relations with the United States and China, as well as its immediate neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia, said PM Lee.

However, he noted that "there will always be ups and downs in Singapore's relations with other countries, big and small.

"Our interests will not always coincide with theirs. But our fundamental approach must not change," he said.

This approach is a long-term one: Not to take good relations for granted, and also not to "get flustered or cower" when relations are down, said PM Lee.

Singapore Politics