SINGAPORE - Singapore has to know how to deal with its neighbours and maintain good relations, but look after its own interests at the same time, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The Republic is friends with its neighbours, but problems and issues will come up from time to time, he noted in a speech at an awards ceremony in Teck Ghee on Sunday (Jan 6).
While Singapore is a peaceful place, it lives in a very complicated world, he said.
And South-east Asia is quite a complicated place to be living in, he added.
"We need to know how to deal with our neighbours, from one country to another country, from one people to another people, to maintain good relations with them, to cooperate with them, but at the same time to look after our interests and stand up for Singapore."
He expressed the hope that students will see and understand what is happening around Singapore as they grow up.
"You would understand and you would learn that this is the world where we would have to stand up for ourselves, look after ourselves, and look after ourselves together as one people so that, small as we are, this little red dot can thrive and can prosper," PM Lee said.
He also highlighted the importance of having the resilience and determination to overcome adversity and defend the country, to prosper and thrive in the world.
PM Lee's remarks come as Singapore and Malaysia are locked in disputes over maritime boundaries and airspace.
The foreign ministers from both countries will meet on Tuesday (Jan 8) in Singapore for discussions.
PM Lee was speaking at the Teck Ghee bursary and Edusave awards presentation ceremony, where he gave out more than 1,100 bursary awards to students in the area. These included the Edusave Good Progress and Edusave Skills awards.
He congratulated the award winners, saying that these awards recognise not just their efforts and achievements, but also affirm their character and strengths.
This is because schools aim to help students develop the character and values to be good citizens who can make a contribution to Singapore, he said.