Singapore

Chan Chun Sing identifies four lessons Singapore can draw from HK situation

Trade and Industry Minister Chan says there needs to be a well-functioning political system, long-term planning and social cohesion

The situation in Hong Kong has reached a breaking point, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said, adding there would be grave doubts about the Chinese territory's future and the sustainability of its political system if calm is not restored through dialogue.

"We watch with concern the deterioration of the situation in Hong Kong," he told reporters at his office at The Treasury yesterday following one of Hong Kong's most violent weeks of clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police.

"Hong Kong's continued success as an economic and financial hub is important for the region and the world, including Singapore."

Mr Chan said Singaporeans have wondered if the recent clashes in Hong Kong and other parts of the world could happen here. It can, he added, "if we are complacent or not careful".

Mr Chan added that his intention was not to pass judgment, but he identified four lessons Singapore can draw.

One, the need for a well-functioning political system and healthy political culture.

While political systems need to be representative, it is more important to find ways for diverse interests to co-exist, he said.

"Regardless of political systems and party interests, the exercise of leadership must be to put people's and countries interest foremost, and in our case, what this Government commits to it will deliver. It is our promise to our people in this generation, and the next," he said.

Two, policies for the long term. Mr Chan said events in Hong Kong have laid bare the drawbacks of focusing too much on immediate issues.

"Elections cannot be just about the here and now, without consideration for the long-term future of our people and country."

He cited how keeping housing affordable is fundamental to stability, adding that the Government has always prioritised public housing and put the interest of the wider public above that of private developers.

Three, preserve social cohesion.

Mr Chan urged all parties to think of the wider good of the country even as they champion the needs and wants of specific communities.

He stressed that conflicts must be resolved through dialogue and constructive actions, and not violence.

"To insist on maximum individual gains at the expense of the common and collective good cannot be the Singapore way. The pursuit of such narrow interests will instead fracture the political centre for compromise and constructive solutioning," he said.

Four, small states must stay relevant.

"Singapore will have to pick up the pieces ourselves should things go bad or go wrong," he added. "Singapore's continued relevance to the world is never a given. We must work hard, distinguish ourselves and stay exceptional amidst the global uncertainties."

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