Islamic State, Nationalism key worries for growth: Singapore PM

The growth of Islamic State militant group and rising nationalism in Asia are two key worries on the international front which could upset the conditions for economic growth in the Asian region, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

PTI| Updated: Sep 21, 2014, 15:02 PM IST

Singapore: The growth of Islamic State militant group and rising nationalism in Asia are two key worries on the international front which could upset the conditions for economic growth in the Asian region, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

Speaking at a dialogue session at 'The Singapore Summit' last night, Lee said, "You can't really change fundamentally the texture of the society and the people there and when you are gone, the problem will come back. So that is a very difficult problem in the Middle East".

"What we can do in our own homes is to watch the security, watch the confidence building and trust building between the different communities and make sure the Muslims have leaders that will stand up to say IS is not Islam - and try to prevent people from being misled by them," he said.

"And fortunately in Singapore, we have got religious leaders who have said that emphatically, and I think the population in general understand," Channel News Asia quoted Lee as saying.

Lee said there was no solution to the IS problem in terms of taking them out or putting military forces on the ground.

Another concern Lee highlighted was the rising nationalism in Asia, evident in territorial disputes, the tone of national debates or harsh messages in internet discourse.
He said nationalism could upset peace and security, which are necessary for growth in Asia Pacific.

"People say it is the Asia Pacific century, but to make that happen, you need peace and security and good relations with the major powers and there must be space for small powers like Singapore to survive and make a living for ourselves in a predictable and secure world and nationalism can upset that," he said.

Terming Nationalism as a "very powerful force", Lee said it can be used to transform the country if harnessed in a positive way.

"If you are not proud of your country, you are not going to go anywhere. You don't need a solution to nationalism, you need to channel nationalism in a direction which is constructive, which is compatible with us all prospering together," he said.

Another key point that Lee pointed out was Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, hoping that it could be concluded in 2014 and will contribute to regional prosperity.

He said about 85 per cent of the work has been done.

He said the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) would transform ASEAN -Association of South East Asian Nations - into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and freer flow of capital.

"The deadline is December 2015 but we have been making progress along the way and about 85 per cent of what we have promised to do we have already been done," he said.