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In dialogue with Singapore's former Minister Mentor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy's 7th anniversary

15 September 2011

Mr Lee (right) at the dialogue session moderated by Prof Mahbubani

Mr Lee and Prof Mahbubani unveiling the French edition of Mr Lee's memoirs
"The vision (of Singapore) has got to be your vision," said Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's former Minister Mentor, at a dialogue session held on 14 September 2011, marking the 7th anniversary of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP).

Speaking for the first time as a Distinguished Fellow of the LKYSPP, Mr Lee fielded questions on Singapore's government policies and political setting from LKYSPP students and other invited guests including diplomats, private sector leaders and LKYSPP donors, in a session moderated by LKYSPP Dean Prof Kishore Mahbubani.

Among the topics raised was whether the "Stop at Two" campaign launched in the 1960s had created today's ageing population and need for incoming immigrants. Disagreeing, Mr Lee said: "Stopping at two has nothing to do with what's happened. It's happening throughout the developed world." Instead, he attributed the current situation to the rising education levels among women today and economic development. Mr Lee then referred to a study by the Institute of Policy Studies and emphasised on the need for immigrants to make up population in view of the projected low fertility rate of 1.24 per woman.

Mr Lee also shared on the importance of having a balanced budget. He said: "I hope the Prime Minister and his Cabinet ensure that Singapore veers on the side of prudence and balance the budget, and not raid on its reserves which have been protected by a separately elected President."

When asked about his vision of Singapore, Mr Lee replied: "The vision has got to be your vision, not my vision…You have to have a vision on the kind of Singapore you want. And you got to crystallise that and get your leaders to adopt your vision."

On the future of Singapore, he felt that the situation is more complex and as a first world nation, Singapore now has many highly educated and highly combative people. While he agreed that there can be a competitive opposition, Mr Lee did not think that Singapore can have a two-party government yet. He also addressed questions on Singapore-Malaysia relations, the trade-off between economic development and democracy and the debt crises facing the European countries today, among others.

The session concluded with the unveiling of the French edition of Mr Lee's memoirs titled "L'Histoire de Singapour" ("The Singapore Story") and "Du Tiers-Monde a la Prosperite" ("From Third World to First").

Rounding off the event, the LKYSPP presented its inaugural Outstanding Alumni Award to Mr Sundram Pushpanathan, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, in recognition of his contributions in promoting good governance and public policy through his work. Mr Pushpanathan said: "I will continue to work with the LKYSPP and the alumni for the betterment of the livelihoods of the people of ASEAN and the world."