The Straits Times
Published on Sep 06, 2012

S'pore wants to see disputes managed responsibly: PM Lee


Singapore may not be a claimant country in the South China Sea issue, but it does have critical interests at stake and wants to see the disputes managed responsibly and peacefully, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Regardless of how the issue is resolved, freedom of navigation must be maintained and the centrality of Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) cannot be diminished, he stressed on Wednesday.

If the growing tensions in the waters affect Asean as a cohesive body, it would hurt Singapore's security and influence, he added in a speech to senior Chinese officials at the Central Party School, the top institution of learning for the Chinese Communist Party members.

"A divided or discredited Asean will lead to a scenario where the member states are forced to choose between major powers, and South-east Asia becomes a new arena for rivalries and contention. No one wins," he cautioned.