Global threats endanger existence of small states like Singapore: Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the US Capitol, in Washington on 30 March 2022. (PHOTO: Reuters)
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the US Capitol, in Washington on 30 March 2022. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE – Global threats and uncertainties, ranging from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, rising oil and food prices, climate change, to novel pathogens can pose grave dangers to the economies and existence of small states like Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (23 September).

But what small states lack in size, they can make up for it by being flexible, resourceful and cooperative to support and uphold the global multilateral rules-based system, he said.

"Small states depend on the multilateral system for our security and survival. This international order is imperfect but it is by far our best bet," he said.

"If we regress to a world where 'might is right', small states would find it impossible to survive and even big countries will not be better off," he added.

Lee was speaking in a recorded video message for the Forum of Small States (FOSS) in New York, held in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting of the world leaders.

The forum, which is commemorating its 30th anniversary this year, is an informal group of more than 100 small states, or over half of the UN's members. It was started by Singapore in 1992 with 16 countries initially to discuss issues of mutual concern and give small states a bigger voice at the UN.

In his video message, Lee urged small countries to participate actively in strengthening the multilateral system and protecting the interests of small states.

They should work together on interests ranging from sustainable development, cybersecurity, to the governance of oceans and outer space, via various international instruments. Through their participation in shaping the international agenda, they can ensure the concerns and interests of small states are taken into consideration.

"Small states often lack the resources and capacity to engage effectively across the whole range of international issues. This is why FOSS is an invaluable platform for informal exchange and mutual support, capacity building and technical cooperation," Lee said.

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