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SINGAPORE — Singapore's approach to dealing with criticism is to listen to it, because "nobody has a monopoly of wisdom", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"You may be right, you may be wrong. Nobody is right all the time. Nobody has a monopoly of the wisdom in the world," he said at a press conference during his official visit to Rwanda on Monday (27 June).
"Objectively does it make sense? Do they have a point? Have I made a mistake?"
PM Lee was responding to a Rwanda journalist's question on how he stayed the course in pursuing national development despite criticism.
Noting that leaders will still get criticism even when doing what is right, he said, "You will have to ask yourself, what is the purpose of this criticism? Is it trying to help you to do better?
"In the end, you have to make up your own judgment because you carry the responsibility for the outcome."
Ultimately, elected leaders are responsible to the citizens, who will give them their mandate if they endorse their leaders, PM Lee said.
Attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
PM Lee was in the Rwanda capital of Kigali to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting from 23 to 25 June. It was his first official visit to an African country.
He held bilateral meetings with other Commonwealth leaders on the sidelines of the event, and remained in Kigali for his official bilateral visit on 26 and 27 June, when he called on Rwanda President Paul Kagame.
In his opening remarks at Monday's press conference, he noted that Singapore's interactions with Africa has grown over the last decade, with regular visits between officials and leaders.
More Singaporeans are working in Africa and Singaporean companies are also venturing into Africa due to the growing economic opportunities as the continent opens up to digitalisation, regional integration and global trade.
"There are many bright spots in Africa, and Rwanda is one of the brightest. Singapore looks forward to deepening our cooperation, and increasing trade and investment between Singapore and Rwanda," PM Lee said.
He noted that under the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) established in 1992, more than 12,000 African officials, including many from Rwanda, have attended courses in Singapore.
He also announced a three-year technical cooperation package called the Singapore-Africa Partnership Package.
"We will customise courses in priority areas for Africa. These will cover emerging issues such as on climate change and sustainability, and digitalisation and smart cities," he said.
"We will provide priority placement for African officials in our SCP courses. And we will also offer postgraduate scholarships for senior African officials in Singapore universities."
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