Mr Lee: Stay relevant by being efficient

WHILE Singapore is a “reliable” and “secure” energy hub, it is important for the country to be efficient so as to remain relevant in the face of competition, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

Mr Lee was answering a question on whether plans for a petrochemical hub in Johor Baru’s Iskandar project will be a threat to Singapore.

“We cannot prevent them from having a petrochemical hub... The answer is which is the more efficient hub,” he said during a dialogue at Shell Singapore’s 120th Anniversary charity gala dinner.

He said a few countries had tried asking Shell to move its operations to “where the oil is”.

But based on what he heard, Shell said it had not had any trouble with its operations in Singapore, as the country is “reliable, secure, predictable”.

Mr Lee, a Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, admitted that he would starve if he had to work as an artist.

Instead, if asked to solve a mathematical question or argue a point, he felt that he would be confident of doing so.

He used this to illustrate his answer to a question about the meaning of life.

He said: “Life is what you make of it. You are dealt a pack of cards, your DNA is fixed... Your job is to make the best of the cards that have been handed out to you.”

When asked what lessons in the past 50 years of Singapore’s history would be key to the future, Mr Lee replied that it was difficult to look to the past.

He explained that it is unlikely the events five decades ago would repeat themselves.

Furthermore, he added that the challenges going forward would be very different from those in the past.

For instance, he cited the problem of Singapore’s diminishing population and low fertility rate.

The situation now is the opposite from that in the 1950s when Singapore had a high fertility rate and the Government started the stop-at-two-children campaign, he noted.

The dialogue, held at Resorts World Sentosa, was moderated by Mr Warren Fernandez, Shell’s global campaign manager for future energy.

The charity event saw the oil giant and its industry partners raise $1.2 million for causes such as The Straits Times’ School Pocket Money Fund and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore.

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