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  Channel NewsAsia 4 Oct 07
Government committee looks at energy use in each sector: MM Lee

Straits Times 5 Oct 07
MM warns of 'dark side' despite economic boom

Straits Times 5 Oct 07
Is there no S'porean who wants to ask a question?

Straits Times 5 Oct 07
Talent flow hinges on green issues

That is the new twist on the global warming problem as outlined by MM Lee
By Li Xueying

THE urgency of the global warming problem was given a new twist last night.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said the environment will be a factor when immigrants decide where they want to park their talent.

During a dialogue with Nanyang Technological University students, a Chinese national undergraduate asked him about Singaporeans' reactions to an increasing number of immigrants becoming new Singapore citizens.

Mr Lee replied that migration is a 'worldwide phenomenon' which he does not think is stoppable.

'We are into a phase where there will be huge waves of migration of people across the globe,' he said.

Mr Lee then went into a discussion of the environment and how it may affect global population movements.

'With climate change, large areas will become less habitable, and you have millions - if not billions - of people on the move,' he said.

He then asked the student which part of China he was from.

Jilin province, in the Dongbei (East-North) region, came the answer.

'Dongbei will become warmer,' said Mr Lee with a laugh. 'In 50 years' time, the ice cap is melting and the sea passages will be open.

'But, anyway, you have to make up your mind whether Singapore is a nicer place,' he said, as the audience laughed and applauded.

Referring to a just-completed Cabinet paper, he revealed that ministers had discussed the issue of how to reduce energy consumption.

There is also a committee that looks into the efficiency of energy use in each sector, he added.

But Mr Lee appeared pessimistic on whether global warming problems can be resolved.

'I really do not know what the outcome will be,' he said. 'To solve this problem, you have to reverse your way of life. No country is going to do that. The lifestyles that everybody aspires to means high energy consumption - cars; in the tropics, air-conditioning; all your consumer items; traffic.'

One way out is if there is a technological breakthrough to use nuclear power safely without problems of nuclear waste, he said.

But 'we have already started this melting of the ice caps and I do not see that being reversed', he added.

World leaders had to put the issue on top of their agenda and prevent a major change in the condition of the world, he said.

'I really cannot tell you whether in 50 years from now what the water levels will be, what the temperature will be. If it gets two degrees up, then we are in real trouble...'

Giving a more sanguine assessment of Singapore's position in the global race for brains, Mr Lee said that while Singapore is losing 'a few', it is also 'gaining quite a few'.

'Our problem is, this is a globalised world,' he said in response to a student, an Indian national, who asked about Singaporean students who leave for Australia and Britain.

'You can go anywhere now. You can buy an air ticket like a bus ticket.'

And so if Singapore wants to retain talent, it has to be an 'exciting, vibrant place that offers careers, opportunities equal to anywhere in the world'.

Channel NewsAsia 4 Oct 07
Government committee looks at energy use in each sector: MM Lee

SINGAPORE: The government has formed a committee to study the energy use in each sector in Singapore.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was engaged in a discussion after delivering a speech on "Singapore in the 21st century" at a Nanyang Technological University forum on Thursday.

In response to a student's question on climate change, Mr Lee said, "We just had a Cabinet paper to discuss energy intensity. There's a committee that looks into how much energy is used by each particular sector.

"It is in our interest to do our utmost to keep the use of energy efficient. I really do not know how the outcome will be. I believe it's going to be a difficult problem for everybody." - CNA/ac

Straits Times 5 Oct 07
MM warns of 'dark side' despite economic boom

He cautions against complacency and ignoring warning signs that things could go wrong By Peh Shing Huei THE economy may be booming and Singapore's prospects over the next decade are favourable, but Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew warned yesterday of a 'dark side'.

Concerned over what he saw as 'too much euphoria everywhere', he warned Singapore against becoming complacent and ignoring warning signs that things could go wrong.

'Setbacks could come suddenly,' he said, noting how one such warning came recently with the global meltdown of stock markets in August.

While the markets have since recovered, he believed the underlying problems, linked to the United States mortgage woes that have not been cleaned up, have not gone away.

He cited other nagging worries: inflation going up, prices of commodities rising, and concerns over a volatile region caused by the instability in Myanmar.

Mr Lee painted this backdrop at a forum with Nanyang Technological University students, as he commented for the first time on the recent Central Provident Fund (CPF) changes. He counselled caution against those who had pressed for higher CPF returns.

A thorny issue in the suite of changes to the CPF is the extra 1 percentage point being given to members for the first $60,000 in their balances.

MPs had asked for more. Some suggested tapping into the reserves and pegging CPF interest rates to the returns of Temasek Holdings' and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

Yesterday, Mr Lee noted that amid this debate, there was one worry over a possible downturn in the US economy and resulting inflation worldwide. And that might lead to a repeat of the low growth and high inflation, or stagflation, of the late 1960s and 1970s.

It was during this period, he recounted, that Singapore's reserves suffered losses.

That was what prompted the Government to set up the GIC in 1981. It was so that there could be a dedicated team that could work at protecting the value of the reserves and investments, and especially at that time when inflation was raging.

'We never invested the CPF money in shares or bonds. We always invested the CPF money in Singapore Government bonds where the Singapore Government guarantees a fixed return and you're always going to get it,' said Mr Lee, who is the GIC chairman.

'In other words, you will never lose. And if anybody thinks he can do better, he's welcome to take his money and go to a fund manager and try and do better.

'The fact that we have done well was not because the GIC had a lot of geniuses. It's just that they learnt how to do it.'

Besides the turbulence of the global markets, Mr Lee also urged Singaporeans to remember that their country is in a 'volatile region'.

He believed that an unstable Myanmar was a time bomb that would rock South-east Asia. That was why it was in the best interest of Asean to help stabilise the country, he said.

In such a volatile region, it was all the more important for Singapore to continue to distinguish itself through better standards of governance.

The Government had already put in place the 'big pieces' of national solidarity, English as a working language, industrial harmony and an incorruptible system.

The founding leaders also had the 'basic principles' of building a clean and safe system with world-class infrastructure welcoming to investors.

This whole system evolved because of political leadership that insisted on meritocracy and incorruptibility at every level, he said.

'So our future depends on Singaporeans realising that we always have to be different, cleaner, more transparent, more efficient, always better,' he said, before an hour-long dialogue with students that touched on topics such as global warming and the Singapore media.

'Then we'll survive the competition against those with bigger girth, oil, gas, forest, rivers, whatever. And the next 40 years, if we heed those principles, we should do as well as the last 40 years, provided we change each time the world changes.'

Straits Times 5 Oct 07
Is there no S'porean who wants to ask a question?

By Jeremy Au Yong THREE from China, two from India and one from Vietnam - these foreign students lobbed six of the seven questions during the allocated question-and-answer session last night.

Only the first question for Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew came from a Singaporean.

But as the moderator began to wrap up the proceedings, MM Lee stopped him and asked: 'Is there no Singaporean who wants to ask a question?'

As the crowd of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students burst into laughter, one Singaporean pitched a question on the turnover rate of teachers here.

Mr Lee said Singapore has better teachers today than it has ever had.

The challenge is how to ensure that teaching continues to attract good people as the country develops.

Stressing that he had no worries about the current quality of teaching, he said: 'The attention and effort we have made recruiting good people into the profession have raised the quality of teachers to the highest level we ever had.

'It's partly because they are better remunerated and there is more progression in the profession.'

After fielding the question, he noticed another student waiting at one of the microphones.

He agreed to take the question on climate change but only after asking: 'You are Singaporean?'

Another Singaporean also took to the floor to ask about censorship in Singapore.

But until his intervention, it looked very much as if foreign students would dominate the forum.

With most of them, MM Lee would ask about their background: 'Where are you from?' and 'Where did you learn English?', before complimenting them on their command of the language.

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
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