NATIONAL DAY RALLY: REACTIONS

Foreign reports on PM's speech

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally was reported by some foreign media, most of which carried articles focusing on issues such as rising anti-foreigner sentiments and the four Asian Dragons being at a critical juncture.

The Wall Street Journal online reported that the PM was worried that "rising anti-foreigner sentiment has hurt the city-state's global reputation and he urged citizens to be more tolerant of foreigners".

It said "criticism of foreigners has taken an increasingly xenophobic tone over the past year", with more people turning to social media to air their views.

An article by China's Xinhua news agency focused on Singapore's aim to raise the proportion of local youth admitted to universities to 40 per cent by 2020, by increasing the number of universities from four to six.

Taiwan's Central News Agency highlighted Mr Lee's comment that the four Asian Dragons - Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan - were anxious about the future after experiencing an era of rapid growth, and that economic growth would still be Singapore's main aim.

The Bloomberg news agency had a lengthy article that focused on Mr Lee's remarks on Singapore's low fertility rate, shortage of workers and the need to raise taxes in the next two decades to boost social spending.

On raising taxes, the report quoted Mr Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank, as saying: "I don't think anything will change in our tax policy to make us less competitive in the next five to 10 years, but the Prime Minister is talking about something much further out."

The article noted that Singapore, ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business, has cut taxes in recent years to spur investment.

Bankers in Britain favour working in Singapore over New York and London, where they face lower wage growth and higher taxes, said the article, quoting an annual survey by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden.

On Singapore's low fertility rate, the Bloomberg article cited an April report from the Bank of America which said the median age of Singaporeans would rise to 43.1 in 2020 from 37.6 in 2010.

This compares with 23.9 in the Philippines, 31 in Indonesia and 28.4 in Malaysia at the end of this decade.