Strong support for leaders 'good for Asia'

Strong support for leaders 'good for Asia'

SINGAPORE - Asia would benefit from strongly supported leaders in China, Indonesia and India, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a discussion with Asian editors as elections get under way in the latter two countries which are also two of Asia's largest democracies.

A strong mandate will make it easier for businesses and regional affairs to be managed in a cooperative way.

"I think it's good for Asia if the countries have capable, responsible and strongly supported leaders," he said. "Then you can do business, then you can manage regional affairs collectively and in a cooperative way."

Mr Lee made these remarks in response to a question on implications for Asia given that China has a powerful leader and the likelihood of India and Indonesia gaining strong leaders with credible mandates after the elections.

Parliamentary elections in Indonesia took place yesterday and the presidential election is due in July. General elections in India are ongoing, with the process due to be completed next month.

That was one of the questions put to Mr Lee when he met editors of the Asia News Network during an hour-long dialogue at the Istana on Tuesday, which was moderated by Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez.

Founded in 1999, the Asia News Network has a membership of 22 newspapers in Asia.

Besides The Straits Times and The Star and Sin Chew Daily in Malaysia, other members include China Daily, The Nation, Eleven Media of Myanmar, the Yomiuri Shimbun and The Jakarta Post. Editors were in Singapore for its annual meeting and to mark the grouping's 15th anniversary on Monday.

Taking up the point of strong leadership, Mr Lee added: "If the leaders are not strongly supported, or if their leaders are weak personally, then you may be able to have a discussion but it may not be so easy to deal with problems."

"Of course, strong leaders also have strong preferences and ideas, and it doesn't mean that they will all get together and it will all be the best of all possible worlds. There will be friction, there will be disputes, there will be difficult problems to be solved," he said.

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