In a meeting with the editors-in-chief and publishers of 17 English-language newspapers that comprise the Asia News Network, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remarked yesterday that recent progress in cross-strait economic agreement negotiations represents a good opportunity for Taiwan that should not be squandered.
Responding to queries by The China Post Executive Editor Tom Hsieh relating to ongoing tensions in Taipei over the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, Lee deemed the students' occupation of the Legislative Yuan and the storming of the Executive Yuan as abnormal for the rule of law under democracy.
Lee stated that the students should voice their concerns and opinions over Taiwan's future through existing legal processes, and that he hopes for a peaceful resolution to the current social discord.
"The cross-strait agreement is a good deal. It's a pity (if Taiwan) does not sign it," Lee told The China Post.
On whether the outbreak of student protests would harm cross-strait relations, Lee told The China Post that mainland China had not anticipated the outcome of current developments and has been monitoring the event closely.
According to Lee, under President Ma Ying-jeou's administration Taiwan has made great strides in normalizing cross-strait relations, with the current trade pact representing the final steps before the reaching of a momentous milestone.
From Singapore's perspective, normalized relations and closer ties between Beijing and Taipei are expected to benefit Asia's economies as a whole, said Lee.
Meanwhile, Lee urged Asian nations to exercise restraint when dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea as well as around the Diaoyutai Islands in order to avoid disastrous consequences.