There are still limits, but also 'more free play' in S'pore

There are still limits, but also 'more free play' in S'pore

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not consider the phrase "nanny state" an insult, The Financial Times reports.

In an interview with the paper in London recently, Mr Lee was asked if Singapore was "lightening up a bit".

It quotes him as replying: "I think the fairways are wider. It doesn't mean there are no limits but it means there is more free play."

And he explains, with a laugh: "When people say they don't want a nanny state they are, in fact, in a conflicted state of mind. On the one hand, they want to do whatever they want and not be stopped. On the other hand, if something goes wrong, they want to be rescued."

Mr Lee also feels that while Singaporeans generally feel more secure these days, "an appropriate sense of insecurity is very helpful".

He says: "You don't have to be paranoid but you do have to take risks very seriously."

Taking the long view should remind Singaporeans to stay on guard, the paper quotes him as saying. The interview also touched on the crisis in Ukraine and what it means for Singapore.

He says: "We are a small country, we depend on international law, treaties and agreements and the sanctity of these things, and if they can just be overridden or ignored, well, then we are in serious trouble."

Asked what he makes of the West's reaction and whether it has been strong enough, he says he doesn't believe the West can do much more in Ukraine.

"I think you should have thought of that before encouraging the demonstrators on the Maidan (in the capital, Kiev)."

Mr Lee was also asked if he envisages a day when the People's Action Party is no longer running Singapore.

His reply: "It could well happen. I don't know how it will work but it could happen."

And the paper reports that a little later this is what he had to add: "It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated - you're getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now."

This article was published on April 13 in The New Paper.

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