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We are doing more for the needy: PM Lee

Staying competitive and caring for the needy - it's the yin and yang that Singapore has to balance, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview published yesterday. And more has to be done now to tilt the balance a little from competitive to caring.

The Chinese magazine New Century, published by Caixin, had asked Mr Lee about the challenge of finding this difficult balance.

The yang "is the competitive element which drives society forward, and the yin, the softer, maybe you can say the feminine element which expresses our care and concern for one another and the way we help one another... form a society together", he was quoted as saying in reply.

"If you go too much towards competitiveness, you lose that cohesion and sense of being Singaporeans together. If we go all the way the other way and say, well, we don't compete and everybody will be first in class, I think nobody will be first in class and we will all be losers!

"We have operated a competitive system which has targeted significant social safeguards on public housing, in health care, in education...

"With conditions getting more challenging for the middle- and the lower-income people in many societies, I think we need to do somewhat more to tilt the balance towards the yin side.

"That means to give greater help to the low-income groups, so they can increase their earnings and their assets to keep our society more open, so people who have talent can move up and will not be daunted by the gaps in the incomes between the rich and poor. That is what we have been doing."