Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Singapore political figures express concerns after Brexit vote

Brexit Britain


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Singapore's political figures show concern

Political figures in Singapore have expressed their views after a historic referendum which shows that UK would leave the European Union (EU) on Friday.

Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth said that the effects of the referendum would soon to be seen.

"The effects on the real economy will come quickly and last for years as investors and businesses work through the possible ramification...UK will have to deal with a messy situation that will cast a dark shadow on the global economy. Brace for gloomier outlook," said Fu.

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Brexit vote a 'turning point': PM Lee

Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU) is a turning point, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Fri (Jun 24), after the UK voted in a referendum to leave the EU.

The decision reflects the anxiety of the British population over immigration, their resentment at having to negotiate with and accommodate European partners, and their desire to assert British identity and sovereignty, Mr Lee stated.

"Other developed countries also face similar challenges as Britain. We all live in a globalised, interdependent world. The desire to disengage, to be less constrained by one’s partners, to be free to do things entirely as one chooses, is entirely understandable. And yet in reality for many countries disengaging and turning inwards will likely lead to less security, less prosperity, and a dimmer future."

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Will make the best of new reality: PM Lee on Brexit

The UK vote to leave the European Union (EU) is “a turning point” reflecting the anxieties of the British population, and the next few years will be uncertain ones for Britain and Europe, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as he cautioned against the consequences of countries disengaging from the world.

When the Brexit was agonisingly close at 11:57am, Singapore’s Ambassador at Large Bilahari Kausikan reacted and said: “The Brits are committing suicide before our eyes!”

When the results became official, Mr Kausikan said Britain will be “a much diminished (nation)”, adding that, with it leaving the EU, it is “divided and certainly on a faster downwards trajectory”.

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Lee Hsien Loong Facebook

The UK vote to leave the European Union (EU) in the ‪#‎Brexit‬ referendum is a turning point. It reflects the anxiety of the British population over immigration, their resentment at having to negotiate with and accommodate European partners, and their desire to assert British identity and sovereignty.

Other developed countries also face similar challenges as Britain. We all live in a globalised, interdependent world. The desire to disengage, to be less constrained by one’s partners, to be free to do things entirely as one chooses, is entirely understandable. And yet in reality for many countries disengaging and turning inwards will likely lead to less security, less prosperity, and a dimmer future.

The next few years will be uncertain ones for Britain and Europe. Leaving the EU is as complicated as joining it. What new arrangements will be made? Will Brexit hurt investor confidence more broadly, and the global economy? How will Britain’s leaving affect the rest of the EU? How will this affect us, living in Asia but part of the same globalised world?

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Tharman Shanmugaratnam Facebook

But the more profound questions revolve around politics. Many of the people who voted for Britain to leave Europe, like those in England’s industrial cities, may end up being hurt by its economic consequences. Yet their frustration over their jobs and wages, and their fear of uncontrolled immigration if Britain stayed in Europe, has shaped their votes.

There is a new brew in politics around the world, especially in the most mature democracies like the US, UK and in Europe. The growing appeal of nationalist politics, demagogues, and in some cases outright racism. (There was in fact all of that in the UK referendum debate.) A growing disaffection with the establishment. A weakening of trust and consensus in society, and of the centre in politics. That too has happened in the UK itself, with the two major parties now weakened.

As politics gets fragmented, the political extremes will gain appeal. We do not know where this will lead to, but it cannot mean anything good. But to tackle it, the politics of the centre must stay connected to the challenges that ordinary people face - and address their need for jobs and security, and a balance in immigration that preserves a sense of identity. Tackling this without turning inward, and weakening jobs and society further, is the central challenge everywhere.

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Vivian Balakrishnan Facebook

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he did not expect the Singapore-UK relationship to change significantly as the two had always had a "strong traditional relationship in the economy, in diplomacy, and even in defence relations".

"For instance, almost half our investments in the EU actually go to the UK ... I don't expect that to change significantly," he said on the sidelines of a Maker Faire event.

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Grace Fu Facebook

Meanwhile, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that there will be market turmoil ahead, which will affect Singapore.

"The effects on the real economy will come quickly and last for years as investors and businesses work through the possible ramification," said Ms Fu. "UK will have to deal with a messy situation that will cast a dark shadow on the global economy. Brace for gloomier outlook."

"Singapore thrives in a market with free trade and movement of goods and funds," she added in a reply to a comment from a member of the public. "If this signals a more nationalistic and protectionist world, it will not be good for us."

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Lawrence Wong Facebook

Beyond the initial turbulence in the market (which will settle down to a new equilibrium in time), this historic move is likely to raise concerns about the longer-term repercussions on global growth, trade and integration.

As a small open economy, we will always be subject to the vagaries of the global market, and of major forces beyond our control. So while Brexit may not be uppermost on our minds, we will have to be prepared for the consequences of the decision taken today.

For us in Singapore, it's yet another reminder that we must continue to stay alert and nimble; to continually adapt and innovate; to survive and thrive in an uncertain world.

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Ng Eng Hen Facebook

Will the Government be pressured to step down? What will Scotland do, having voted to stay in EU? Will other EU countries want referendums to leave too? Whatever the ramifications, no one doubts that this is a monumental, historic moment for this generation.

What do we in Singapore learn from this? For me, the most important lesson is that change is inevitable and that when it comes, it is the solidarity of a nation’s people with each other and their leaders that will pull them through.

Tomorrow will be a different world for UK people, and only unity and common purpose will lead them through safely and for a better future. Disunity and lack of strong leadership will blight their future, however they voted in the referendum.

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Bilahari Kausikan Facebook

Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan also weighed in on the Brexit vote.

“It isn’t often you see a country commit suicide before your eyes,” said Mr Bilahari to Channel NewsAsia.

“We are also witnessing the tragically irrational consequences of western democracy. The UK is only an example of the dysfunctionality of a system taken to extremes," he added.

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Tommy Koh Facebook

In a Facebook post, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh said Mr Cameron had "messed up big time by holding an unnecessary referendum".

"The result is a tragedy for the UK and for the EU. It is a victory for populism over rationality. It is a victory for fear over hope. It will probably lead to the secession of Scotland from the UK," he wrote.

"The global wave of populism which is sweeping the world is a danger to democracy and to democratic institutions. Let us hope that it will not invade Singapore," he added.

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Singapore political figures express concerns after Brexit vote

In the meantime, Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan showed his concern.

"It isn't often you see a country commit suicide before your eyes," said Mr Bilahari. "We are also witnessing the tragically irrational consequences of western democracy. The UK is only an example of the dysfunctionality of a system taken to extremes."

Singapore's National Development Minister Lawrence Wong also gave his comments, saying that such a move would pose long-term implications on global growth.

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5 Things Singapore needs to learn from Brexit
To learn from your own mistakes, that’s foolish. The wise man learns from other people’s mistakes

Hopefully Singapore learns these lessons well:

  • Fear-mongering can backfire
  • Lies work
  • Us vs Them is real
  • Rich vs the Not so Rich (and the Poor)
  • Politics is about convincing people emotionally too

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Brexit's negative campaign holds lesson for Singapore

In the lead-up to the UK's European Union referendum, the Leave campaign was long on playing up fears and short on substance ("Facts no longer seem to matter in campaigns"; last Wed).

Many of the emotionally charged messages were beset with lies, half-truths and misinformation.

These messages might have clouded minds and hearts about what is at stake for the future.

related: Brexit vote holds lessons for Singapore

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3 Reasons Why Singaporeans Shouldn’t Be Overjoyed By Brexit

It is not often that such a huge interest in financial markets is taken by non-market practitioners. Nonetheless, with the excitement akin to a World Cup Final, many were focused on Friday’s Brexit result. Singaporeans in particular – with their own unique brand of opportunism, jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the lower GBP exchange rates. While a cheaper UK holiday or cheaper clothes from online UK retailers are all wonderful things to celebrate about, the longer term perspective of the Brexit event needs to be considered as well.

While the one-day move is tremendous, with the breaking of serious technical support, the current level of GBP/SGD is not exactly at all-time ridiculous historical lows. In fact, you could have gotten approximately the same rate in 2013 or at 1.90 in April (not a huge difference from today’s 1.85 on a long-term basis). You probably would have had a better deal, given less time queuing at the money changer coupled alongside smaller bid-ask spreads.

Of course it could go lower from this point – but current exchange rates don’t really warrant such enthusiasm for money changing yet.

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PM Lee: Brexit reflects anxiety of British population over immigration and relationship with EU

The United Kingdom has voted leave the European Union (EU) by a vote of 52% to 48% on 24 June 2016 in its referendum to decide whether to leave or remain in the EU.

According to the results, Votes to leave the EU won the majority of votes in England and Wales, while every council in Scotland saw votes to remain in as majorities of the votes.

In response to the results of the referendum, Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong posted his views on his Facebook page.

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UK PM resigns over Brexit

The voters of UK have finally decided to leave EU with the results of the referendum showing 52% in favor of leaving and 48% against.

Soon after the results were out, UK PM David Cameron announced his resignation.

“I think the country requires fresh leadership. I do not think I can be the captain to take the country to its next destination,” he said, fighting back his tears with his voice breaking.

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Bad Brexit! Bad!

NOBODY is saying a good thing about Brexit. Which means that the majority of British voters (okay, 52 per cent who voted Leave Euro) could possibly be wrong? Gasp.

The fallout is immediate and bad. The poor pound has got poorer, down to 31 year low, and stock markets around the world are taking a dive. Take a look below.

So the economic/business types are reacting badly. British PM David Cameron, roundly castigated for holding the reckless referendum to appease Eurosceptics in his own party, has resigned. Whoever takes over the job will have to see how to negotiate the divorce settlement with the European Union. It will take at least two years to sort through the tangle of treaties and financial arrangements. But the new PM is expected to immediately do something about immigration – since that appears to be the message from voters which Mr Cameron described as “an instruction to deliver”.

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This is the only reaction to Brexit from a brainy Singaporean you need to read

And here is a brainy Singaporean’s reaction, as reported by Channel NewsAsia:

"It isn’t often you see a country commit suicide before your eyes."

"We are also witnessing the tragically irrational consequences of western democracy. The UK is only an example of the dysfunctionality of a system taken to extremes."

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Brexit is outright racism and unnecessary

Following the official announcement of Britain’s exit from the European Union, leaders of the Singapore government reacted very negatively with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman calling it “outright racism”.

Yesterday (Jun 24), the British majority voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum mainly because of the hefty amount of English taxes spent on helping other poorer countries in EU like Greece. Britain was the second-largest economic power, below Germany, who have to pay up to 350 million pounds a week to EU because of it’s membership obligation. English voters contend that the money could be better off spent on local investments, especially on it’s ailing healthcare system.

Another key issue behind the British exit, aka Brexit, is the influx of cheap foreign labour from the Europe continent. Salaries were depressed in the decade and the middle and low income saw falling income because of the liberal immigration policies. Britain were also denied from the rights to make independent policies without consulting other EU members, which pro-Brexit supporters felt is an infringement of their sovereignty.

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related:
Brexit: What Next for the EU?
EU referendum: Brexit or Bremain