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Why S'pore must not be a failed state
Thu, May 20, 2010
my paper

By Kenny Chee

SINGAPORE must continue to be successful on various fronts, including its economic growth and social progress, said Senior Minister S. Jayakumar yesterday.

"If we were a failed country, no one would pay attention to us," said Professor Jayakumar, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, at the third S. Rajaratnam Lecture held at Shangri-La Hotel.

And, given its small size, the Republic must also stand out or risk being passed over by other nations for larger and better-endowed countries, he added.

So, despite being a little red dot, Singapore has done rather well in remaining relevant in international affairs and protecting its own interests.

For instance, it rallied many small states to form a grouping called the Forum of Small States at the United Nations in 1992 to represent their interests. It continues to lead this grouping of 100 member states.

The quality of Singapore's leadership and foreign-service officials has contributed to the country's international standing too, said Prof Jayakumar.

He noted that the views of leaders like Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are sought after by other world leaders, especially on regional developments.

And having various arms of the Government work as a seamless whole has been vital in helping the nation face global challenges, said Prof Jayakumar.

"We are just too small for fractious turf battles and inter-agency rivalry," he said.

But he cautioned that the challenges Singapore faced in the past as a small country will persist in the future, and this
geopolitical reality frames its foreign policy.

"The challenge for us is not to get lulled into complacency or take for granted that we can always stay relevant and be able to create diplomatic and economic space," he said.

kennyc@sph.com.sg

 


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