You are here

Singapore's paranoia is necessary: Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday night admitted that Singapore is "paranoid" and constantly worried that it could lose all of its accomplishments, saying that such concerns are "necessary".

"You don't expect to go back to where you were in the 1960s, and yet it is not natural that you stay at this place. Is it to be expected that the population of three-and-a-half million citizens and maybe a million foreign workers will have the best airline in the world; the best airport in the world; one of the busiest ports in the world; a financial centre which is one of three or four key financial centres in the world; and an education and healthcare and housing system which gives us a per capita GDP which is - at least by World Bank calculations, if you look at PPP (purchasing power parity) - higher than America or Australia or Japan?

"It is an entirely unnatural state of affairs, and one which we should count our blessings for - if not every day, at least (at) every election," said Mr Lee, who was speaking at the SG50+ conference, jointly organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP).

During a wide-ranging hour-long dialogue session with US journalist and author Fareed Zakaria, Mr Lee also said that he would "strongly prefer not to" continue as Prime Minister of Singapore for another decade, because he believes that a younger person should take the reins.

"I strongly prefer not to. This is a job which needs a young man - people with energy, people who will be there and can connect with young people, and will fight the battles with the young people; not for five or 10 years, but for 20, 30, 40 years to come. And you need somebody of that generation," said Mr Lee.

Your feedback is important to us

Tell us what you think. Email us at

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to