[UPDATED] Lee Kuan Yew on Malaysia, Thailand, fertility rates, trade

10Jul08

Lee Kuan Yew attended the Nomura Asia Equity Forum on Wednesday. From the Straits Times:

POLITICAL turmoil in Malaysia and Thailand are ‘severe problems’ which may hurt growth and investment in the markets, Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said on Wednesday.

Malaysia is ‘trapped’ in personal politics amid accusations and counter-accusations among politicians, Mr Lee told participants at the Nomura Asia Equity Forum, according to a Bloomberg report.

Mr Lee added that the tension has hurt the country’s stock market.

And a second article on Lee’s comments:

‘If we don’t reproduce ourselves to 2.1, we are in trouble,’ said Mr Lee, referring to the natural replacement rate of 2.1, which Singapore’s fertility rate of 1.29 falls short of.

‘So we are going to revamp. We’ve studied what the Swedes have done, what the French have done.

‘The Swedes have completely changed their system. Support paternity leave, women get their children into creches, into nursery schools, all paid by the state. Very heavy expenses but Sweden can afford it.

‘We are looking at our budget, can we afford it? But we’ve got to go because these are proven ways.’

And CNA has yet one more section on trade and decoupling:

Mr Lee said: “I do not say we are decoupled; what I am saying is that we are less ‘completely-coupled’. There is a big difference.

“When we were completely coupled, we were totally dependent on US demand. When that (demand slows), Singapore’s IT exports will (also slow). But now, if the US slows down, it does not follow that China and India will slow down as well.”

While US bourses may be in a bearish phase currently, Mr Lee believes it is in everyone’s interest to prevent a sudden collapse of the US market, which will spread worldwide.

“I think in the real world of politics, never mind the theory, nobody wants a hard landing for America. If we can postpone the rate at which it is going to slow down, we may avoid a catastrophic collapse,” said Mr Lee.

He also believes the key to riding out the economic crisis is good governance, integrity and stability in the political system.

Video of the last segment only available on CNA.




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