Government must work in a more open way and accept more untidiness: PM Lee

Singapore's government has to work more openly even as it negotiates a transition to a different brand of politics which will be more untidy and unpredictable, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

"It's a different generation, a different society, and the politics will be different," said Mr Lee in the interview published on Friday, US time.

"We have to work in a more open way. We have to accept more of the untidiness and the to-ing and fro-ing, which is part of normal politics," he added.

On whether the change was hard for him, Mr Lee said it is a "major change" and he hopes Singapore will be able to navigate it "safely over a period of time and not suddenly".

Asked by Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth if this meant making government more transparent and open to social media, Mr Lee said: "It's completely open to social media.

"Previously, everything was orderly and predictable. Now there are many more voices, views and interests...and the outcome is a lot more difficult to predict, and the reactions are more difficult to judge."

But that is part of the transformation that Singapore is going through, as it moves towards a new generation that "is growing up with the Internet and Facebook and has access to the whole world and is seeing opportunities all over the whole world".

Mr Lee said Singapore is also managing another major change in its development as it slows down economic growth and tightens the foreign workforce - hotly debated topics of the recent Budget and Population White Paper.

"We are accepting a lower growth because we can't just expand our workforce without limit and constraint," he said, adding that Singaporeans feel the physical pressure of the foreign worker influx.

However, he cautioned: "I don't think everybody fully appreciates the consequences of slower growth, which are very serious. You need growth to have the resources to build the infrastructure, housing, to uphold the standard of living."

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