Tuesday 9 April 2013

S'pore Conversation for people to decide country's "important directions": Ng Eng Hen

By Dylan Loh, Channel NewsAsia, 7 Apr 2013

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Sunday that it was through the Singapore Conversation that people can decide what the country’s important directions are, even as citizens have diverse views about Singapore’s future.

Dr Ng was speaking on the sidelines of a PAssionArts cultural event in Bishan, where he also touched on Singapore-United States defence relations.

Singapore is at a critical point in nation-building where many challenges faced by today's citizens differ from those experienced by previous generations, said Dr Ng, adding that remaining relevant is still the core challenge Singapore faces.

That is because other issues, like meeting people's aspirations, are discussed on the assumption that Singapore can remain competitive, said the minister.

Dr Ng said he was confident that together, people can make the right decisions that will chart the country's path forward, even after taking into account different viewpoints.

The minister said that he believed it was crucial for people to help the nation arrive at practical policies that can sustain the country for the next 20 years.

"It's an important time for Singaporeans to say what (are the) directions we want to take, how does our economy support what we want to do, how do we take care of the elderly and yet at the same time provide opportunities for the young," said Dr Ng.

The defence minister also said that his ministry was "very gratified" with US President Barack Obama's positive comments on the military ties between Singapore and the United States. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met President Obama during his recent trip to the US.

Dr Ng added that Singapore wants to continue facilitating an American presence in the region.

"We have to have a security architecture that is stable, that includes not only them (the US) as a resident power, but also emerging powers like China and India. And they recognise this," said the minister.

Dr Ng said both Singapore and the US are working very hard at forging multilateral relationships that can create regional stability.


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