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PPF| Insights: Striving for greater global relevance as a Shining Red Dot

02 Dec 2023 4 min read

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Singapore must always stand firm and be principled, secure global mindshare, and keep Singapore credible, respected, said People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Party Chairman, and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Mr Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the People’s Action Party Policy Forum (PPF) PPF| Insights – ‘Shining Red Dot: Singapore on the World Stage’ dialogue, DPM Heng underscored these as fundamentals to ensure Singapore continues to be exceptional. It is the last of the three-part PPF| Insights dialogue series to commemorate the birth centenary of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, which marks the PPF’s continued efforts to drive change and champion policies for Singapore’s future.

DPM Heng noted that these key principles, which were established by the first generation of PAP leaders to secure the nation’s spot on the world stage, remain relevant as Singapore charts its progress. However, he cautioned, “Principles hold a certain timelessness, but they cannot be applied rigidly… So this is a critical leadership responsibility – to continuously examine, refresh and update, in order to keep Singapore shining and successful…”

The closed-door dialogue was attended by 310 participants, including activists, retired MPs, and invited members of the public. It also featured a dynamic exchange among a panel of eminent guests comprising Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Chairman of Business China and Mr Yatiman Yusof, Non-resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Kenya. The panel session, moderated by Ms Mariam Jaafar, Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC, delved into the multifaceted factors that have contributed to Singapore’s remarkable transformation and are needful for continued global relevance as a small nation.

Party Chairman Mr Heng Swee Keat and PPF Advisors Mrs Josephine Teo and Mr Chee Hong Tat,, with panellists at the PPF| Insights – ‘Shining Red Dot: Singapore on the World Stage’ dialogue

Growing importance placed on increasing Singapore’s global mindshare

DPM Heng’s emphasis on securing global mindshare through creating space and contributing constructively to international relations is corroborated by the finding of a survey with more than 1,300 respondents.

PPF Advisor Mrs Josephine Teo shared key findings from the survey, which was based on a selection of Mr Lee’s core beliefs on Singapore’s international engagements. The survey revealed that a majority of Singaporeans recognise our limitations as a small nation, and it is this awareness which contributed most to our current international standing. When asked to highlight the priorities for the 4G leadership, most respondents favoured focusing on strengthening global relevance and building coalitions of support over other factors – suggesting a strong desire among Singaporeans to see the nation continue to play a prominent role on the world stage.

Mrs Teo commented, “It is because we recognise the limitations of being small that we choose to leapfrog the region and to differentiate ourselves.  And in doing so, our aim must be to make ourselves relevant to the world and build coalitions of support, to ensure that our national interests are always upheld and that we never become collateral damage…The shift in the responses suggests there is some understanding that our emphasis must now change. The global stage is much more contested than before, and to remain a shining red dot, we will have to work harder in staying relevant to our international partners and friends.”

She added, “Our PPF| Insights surveys have helped us to reach out to more Singaporeans and get a sense of how they are thinking about issues and is part of the party’s effort to listen more carefully, and to be more responsive in the way we govern…As we are about to make another leadership transition, the People’s Action Party remains committed to every Singaporean, to deliver on our promises, as we have always done.”

Party Chairman Mr Heng Swee Keat, and PPF Advisors Mrs Josephine Teo and Mr Chee Hong Tat, with participants at the PPF| Insights – ‘Shining Red Dot: Singapore on the World Stage’ dialogue

About the PPF 

Since its inception, the Party has championed for a Singapore with opportunities for all. The People’s Action Party (PAP) Policy Forum (PPF) serves as a platform to enhance the understanding of policies and the policymaking process and facilitate deep engagement with government leaders on policy issues.   

In commemoration of the birth centenary of PAP’s founding Secretary-General Lee Kuan Yew, PPF will introduce PPF | Insights, a dialogue series discussing key ideas and values espoused by Mr Lee in the areas of tripartism, policy-making and international policies. The series is headlined by past and present PAP Chairmen – Mr Lim Boon Heng and Mr Khaw Boon Wan, and Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Mr Heng Swee Keat; and marks the PPF’s continued efforts to drive change and champion policies tailored for Singapore’s future. Prior to each dialogue, PPF will also conduct a survey to understand the public’s perspective on the values to be discussed at the dialogue.