TIME Singapore

Singapore to Hold an Election on Sept. 11

Lee Hsien Loong
Koji Sasahara—AP Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers a keynote speech at the 20th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo on May 22, 2014

On election day, 16 areas in Singapore will be contested in groups

(SINGAPORE) — Singapore will hold a general election on Sept. 11, the government announced Tuesday, in what is expected to be a tight contest for the ruling party, which has dominated politics in the city-state for 50 years but is now facing growing disaffection among citizens.

The People’s Action Party, whose founder and Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, died in March at age 91, currently holds 80 out of 87 seats in Parliament.

Although that number implies massive popularity for the PAP, the party has been aided by an electoral system in which some constituencies are represented by a group of four to six lawmakers, boosting the winning party’s numbers.

The party usually fields groups led by senior, popular members of Parliament. The system has helped the PAP maintain a commanding majority, even though it received just 60 percent of all votes in the 2011 general election, in its worst electoral performance. It has lost two by-elections since then.

The decline in popularity results from growing resentment over political restrictions, an influx of foreigners and a high cost of living.

For the younger generation, Singapore’s economic success “does not have that much resonance compared with their parents or grandparents,” said Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.

“They are less enamored of a one-party dominant system and are inclined to more political diversity and contestation. The results will signal whether we are incrementally moving away from a one-party dominant system,” he said.

The virtual one-party dominance was led by Lee, who is widely credited with setting the country on the path of economic success and was lauded at the nation’s 50th birthday celebrations on Aug. 9 for his achievements.

Lee’s son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, recounted at the rally the country’s progress in the last 50 years and urged Singaporeans to think about the next 50.

“If you are proud of what we have achieved together, if you support what we want to do ahead, the future that we are building, then please support me, please support my team,” he said.

“We have to do it together, so that we can keep Singapore special for many years to come. Another 50 years. And Singapore has to stay special because if we are just a dull little spot on the map, a smudge, we are going to count for nothing. We have to be a shining red dot,” he added.

On election day, 16 areas in Singapore will be contested in groups, while 13 others will be contested individually, amounting to a total of 89 seats. Parliament was dissolved by the president earlier Tuesday and nomination Day is Sept. 1.

There are around 2.46 million eligible voters, up from 2.35 million in 2011, with an increased number of voters born post-independence.

The opposition Workers’ Party currently holds the other seven seats. It rose in popularity, particularly among the younger generation, after campaigning on the back of providing credible voices to keep the PAP in check.

In the 2011 election, the party snatched the five-member ward of Aljunied in Eastern Singapore, ousting a PAP team led by a former foreign minister.

TIME India

The Indian Government Is Seeking $100 Million in Damages from Nestlé Over Maggi Noodles

Maggi Instant Noodles On Sale As Nestle India Ltd. Face Prospect Of Trial Over Lead Levels
Dhiraj Singh—Bloomberg/Getty Images Packets of Maggi 2-Minute Noodles, manufactured by Nestle India Ltd., center, are arranged for a photograph at a general store in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

The ubiquitous product, often called India's "third staple," has been banned in the country since June

India’s consumer affairs department filed a complaint against Nestlé with the country’s regulatory body on Tuesday, accusing the Swiss company of misleading customers and endangering their health while also resorting to unfair trade practices.

The Indian government is seeking damages equaling around $100 million in its complaint to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), the Times of India reported.

It also moved to impose 18% interest on the damages until Nestlé makes the payment, and said the amount owed might increase as more findings about the safety of the company’s product surface.

The government’s main target is the hugely popular instant noodles brand Maggi, which it banned in early June for allegedly containing high amounts of lead. Nestlé insisted the product was safe for consumption but removed it from shelves across India nonetheless.

Officials accuse Nestlé of attempting to make a misleading association between the noodles and health in the consumer’s mind (through such means as the advertising slogan “Health is enjoyable”). They allege that Nestlé sold some of its noodles as containing no MSG, which was reportedly not the case. They also accuses Nestlé of falsely representing that a product called Maggi Oat Noodles had been approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), when it allegedly had not.

Nestlé India said in a statement that it had not yet received an official notice of the damage claims. “Our current knowledge on this issue is only basis media reports,” the statement said. “We shall be able to provide substantive response after we receive the official papers.”

Food safety authorities in several countries including the U.K., Singapore, Australia and Canada (as well as an Indian government-approved laboratory) have all said that the noodles are safe to consume, but the Indian government has questioned the validity of those findings.

TIME United Kingdom

The U.K.’s Foreign Minister Says ‘Marauding’ Migrants Could Lower European Living Standards

Politicians Attend COBRA Meeting To Discuss Tunisian Terror Attack
Rob Stothard—Getty Images Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, walks along Downing Street on June 29, 2015, in London

Philip Hammond says the current migrant influx is "not a sustainable situation"

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says that the quality of European life will fall if the E.U. is forced to absorb millions of African migrants.

He made controversial remarks while on a trip to Singapore, the BBC reports.

“The gap in standards of living mean that there will always be millions of Africans with the economic motivation to try to get to Europe,” he told the BBC.

“So long as the European Union’s laws are the way they are, many of them will only have to set foot in Europe to be pretty confident that they will never be returned to their country of origin. Now, that is not a sustainable situation, because Europe cannot protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social infrastructure if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa.”

He also spoke pointedly on the migrant camps in the coastal French city of Calais, where the entrance to the Channel Tunnel has become a bottleneck of those who seek to enter the U.K.

“So long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding the area, there always will be a threat to the tunnel’s security,” Hammond said. “We’ve got to resolve this problem ultimately by returning those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin.”

Steve Symonds, director of Amnesty International’s refugee program in the U.K., described Hammond’s comments as “mean-spirited” and “shameful.”

“Rather than throwing up the drawbridge and talking about how Europe can ‘protect’ itself from migrants, Mr. Hammond should be working with our E.U. partners to ensure that people don’t drown in the Mediterranean or get crushed beneath lorries at Calais,” he told the BBC.

TIME Singapore

Singapore Celebrates Its 50th Birthday

APTOPIX Singapore Independence Day
Wong Maye-E—AP Fireworks explode above Singapore's financial skyline at dusk as part of celebrations for the nation's 50th year of independence, Aug. 9, 2015, in Singapore. Singapore declared independence on August 9, 1965

The weekend of celebrations culminated Sunday

(SINGAPORE) — Singapore threw a big party Sunday for its 50th anniversary of independence and unrivaled economic success in a region struggling with poverty and political instability, even as the city-state began feeling the pinch of a midlife crisis.

As fighter jets screamed through the sky and nationalist songs blared, leaders made speeches and people took advantage of free rides on trains and buses. While marveling at the island’s leap from a poor colonial port to a wealthy metropolis, Singaporeans are also grappling with a growing resentment over political restrictions, an influx of foreign labor and a rising cost of living.

“This is a milestone. Coming from an older generation that has seen Singapore through the early years of independence, I know it took hard work by our leaders to get here,” said William Nathan, 70.

The weekend of celebrations culminated Sunday with a military parade and a fireworks display. The sense of unity and pride in Singapore’s achievements was reinforced with a tribute video dedicated to its founder and longest-serving leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March at age 91, after running a virtually one-party state.

To Lee and his cohort of leaders, setting Singapore on the path to economic success meant putting in place tough policies to try to harmonize a racial mix of majority Chinese and minority Malays and Indians.

Lee, who was prime minister for more than three decades, had no tolerance for political dissent. Opposition figures were either defeated in elections or taken to court on defamation charges until they were bankrupt. The country’s laws prohibit bankrupts from contesting elections.

His son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is now steering Singapore with similar restrictions, and is facing a general election expected to be held Sept. 12. The ruling People’s Action Party, which holds 80 of 87 parliamentary seats, suffered its worst results in 2011 elections.

Most of the mainstream media are controlled by government-linked companies, and the few independent news websites that exist are wary of strict defamation laws that government leaders have often used to silence critics.

Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index ranked Singapore 153rd of 180 countries, below Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The government’s recent moves to take a teenage blogger to court and require popular news sites to obtain licenses were met with outrage from the online community. But there were no street protests — demonstrations in Singapore can be held only in a designated area, the 0.97-hectare (2.4-acre) Hong Lim Park. All other gatherings require a police permit.

“Robbing Singaporeans of freedom is like killing part of the nation’s soul at any time. Is there a price on stealing a soul?” said senior research associate Bridget Welsh of National Taiwan University’s Center for East Asia Democratic Studies.

“Singaporeans would have made more progress if there had been more freedom, more ideas, more voices to address the country’s challenges,” she said.

When the population boomed to over 2 million in the 1970s from 1.89 million at independence, Lee vigorously campaigned for women to stop at two children – fearing it would impede economic growth. He also carved a place for a second language in the English-medium education system to make Singaporeans more marketable.

But as Singaporeans grew more educated and wealthy, wages rose, and the ruling party looked to the rest of Southeast Asia for blue-collared manpower to keep the wheels turning.

Today, Singapore is among the five most expensive cities in the world.

An unpopular government policy paper in 2013 predicted that foreigners will make up nearly half of the population of 6.5-6.9 million by 2030 to offset low birth rates and support an aging population. It triggered a rare protest of more than 2,000 against foreign labor.

“We want the government to know that we are not happy, and you can’t push everything down our throats. Peaceful protests are a legal platform for Singaporeans to voice out,” said organizer Gilbert Goh, who has since held several smaller rallies.

TIME Asia

Asian Superpowers China and India Top List of Nations Whose Millionaires Move Abroad

General Economy Images Of China
Tomohiro Ohsumi—Bloomberg/Getty Images The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, right, and commercial buildings are illuminated as they stand at dusk in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Tens of thousands of "high-net-worth individuals" have left to seek a better life overseas

We may be in the midst of “the Asian century,” but a new report shows that many of the wealthiest citizens of the continent’s two fastest-growing economies — China and India — have chosen to leave their countries and settle down abroad.

A total of 91,000 Chinese millionaires left the country and settled overseas in the past 14 years, while the exodus of Indian millionaires ranked second at 61,000, according to a report by consultancies New World Wealth and LIO Global. France, Italy, Russia, Indonesia, South Africa and Egypt round out the top eight.

The study, released this month, looked at immigration data from 2000 and 2014 indicating applications for a second citizenship or change of domicile (permanent residence).

The U.K. — its capital city London, in particular — appears to be the most popular destination for the world’s rich to settle down in, followed by the U.S, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. The report says Indians tend to move to countries like Australia and the United Arab Emirates, while Singapore and Hong Kong are popular destinations for China’s wealthy.

Despite the large-scale departure of millionaires, both China and India still have plenty of wealthy citizens who chose to stay back — reflected by their respective positions at fifth and 10th on the list of countries with the most millionaires overall. They also remain the world’s most populous nations, sharing a third of the global population.

Those who leave generally cite reasons like “turmoil in home country, security concerns and optimizing education of children,” the report said.

Read next: China Slowdown? Depends on Where You Look

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Social Media

Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin Confirms News of Wedding in Facebook Post

The Brazilian-born billionaire tied the knot in June

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co-founder of Facebook, confirmed that he got married last month in a post on the social-media website Sunday.

Saverin posted a photo of himself with his bride, Elaine Andriejanssen, with a message in English and Portuguese. “I am incredibly happy and thankful to have married the love of my life,” the post said. “I look forward to building a family together and to contributing our time and resources to make the world a better place.”

Andriejanssen is of Indonesian-Chinese descent and works in the finance industry, Singapore’s Straits Times reported. She met Brazilian-born Saverin when he was at Harvard University in Massachusetts and she was a student at nearby Tufts University.

Saverin, portrayed by actor Andrew Garfield in the 2010 Facebook biopic The Social Network, moved to Singapore in 2009 and gave up his acquired U.S. citizenship two years later. The 33-year-old is said to be worth more than $5 billion.

TIME Singapore

Exclusive: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Speaks Candidly with TIME

Lee Hsien Loong
Terence Tan—AP Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation about the passing of his father, Singapore's founder Lee Kuan Yew, during a live broadcast on Monday, March 23, 2015, in Singapore

On Aug. 9, 1965, Singapore became an independent state. A half-century of unparalleled prosperity later, this Asian trading hub faces very different challenges

As Singapore gears up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence, the city-state once dismissed as a “little red dot” at the midpoint of regional maps now serves as the epicenter of Asian-style development. By combining Confucian values with state-sponsored capitalism, Singapore in little more than a generation moved “from third world to first,” as a memoir of founding father Lee Kuan Yew puts it.

In truth, Singapore — a mix of majority Chinese and smaller Malay and Indian communities — wasn’t quite as backward upon independence as its boosters claim. The city-state’s economic development was unmatched by individual political liberties. The nanny state admirably manicured Singapore but it had little patience for dissonant voices. Still, as TIME’s anniversary special on Singapore reports in this week’s magazine, the “little red dot” claims outsized geopolitical influence in the region and is a magnet for migrants worldwide.

“You don’t always agree with your parents, but I never had long hair or wore bell-bottoms”The rapid influx of foreigners into Singapore, though, has frustrated the electorate, which punished the ruling People’s Action Party in 2011 polls. (The party, now headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew’s son, still garnered a majority of votes.) The government was trying to make up for a precipitous decline in Singaporean fertility by importing more than 1 million people into a nation that now has a current population of roughly 5.5 million. Yet there was a sense that the flood of foreigners, particularly mainland Chinese, was straining the city-state’s much-vaunted public works, pushing up property prices and diluting the national character. “We are all sons and daughters of immigrants,” says Manu Bhaskaran, an economist whose forebears came from southern India. “But this immigration policy has made us addicted to cheap labor, and it was done without providing enough infrastructure to cope.”

Over the centuries Singapore has proven a master of reinvention. As a British colony, the island grew rich from a trade in rubber and tin. After independence, the country’s port — now the world’s second-largest by certain measures — again proved invaluable as a waystation for the products being churned out by East Asia’s export-led economies. To move up the value-added chain, Singapore also began focusing on developing its own oil-refining and IT industries, as well as luring foreign banks and other global companies to its shores. The city-state has reclaimed acres of land to provide space for the regional headquarters of these multinationals, as well as for a casino meant to lure deep-pocketed Chinese tourists.

Singapore’s latest round of reinvention will require the island to yet again leverage its geography, at a time when tensions are growing between the U.S. and China — both friends to the city-state. But Singapore’s greatest feat at age 50 will be to unleash the potential of its biggest asset: its people. Highly educated and boasting some of the world’s highest per-capita incomes, Singaporeans may no longer be quite so obedient. If the nation is to fulfill its ambition to transform into an innovation hub, perhaps that’s just as well. The question is whether the ruling party, the longest serving in the developed world, also sees it that way. On July 10, TIME spoke with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about the nation at the half-century mark, his reading of regional geopolitics and whether the son of Singapore’s founding father was ever a rebellious teenager. Excerpts below:

What is the single-biggest challenge Singapore faces?

If you are looking at 10 years, getting the economy to the next level is a very big challenge. If we don’t get to the next level then we will have malaise and angst and even disillusionment, which you see in many developed countries. And in 25 years, if we can’t get our demography balance between our births and immigration of foreign workers, then we will be in a very tight spot like the Japanese are. If you take a 50-year timeframe, then the most important thing is the sense of national identity, because before you can make any policies and get people to say “I want to do this or the other,” people must feel that we are Singaporeans and we want to be together and we are different from others and we are special. Keeping that sense of unity and specialness over the long term is critical.

What do you mean by the next economic level?

We are at 30% students going through our universities and we are going to push that up to 40%. A lot of people go to university outside of our state system — they may do part-time courses, they go to Australia or Britain, all kinds of degrees. When they come back they expect to have PMET jobs — Professional, Managers, Executives, Technical. [We need] an economy that can generate that quality of jobs and uplift those who didn’t go to university so you don’t have a wide gap between the tertiary-educated and the rest, which has happened in America where a college degree now makes a big difference compared to a high-school leaver. You cannot do that without growth and you cannot get growth just by expansion with bodies because I don’t have that many more bodies and I can’t bring in a lot more bodies without bursting at the seams. So I need qualitatively different jobs, qualitatively a more efficient overall economy. My infrastructure must run brilliantly. My whole system must be different from what you can get anywhere else in Asia. The others are catching up. So even as the others step into where we are, we have to be at the next level.

People overseas talk a lot about the Singapore model of development…

I don’t think there is a model but there is an approach that we have applied in Singapore. A government that is pragmatic—it looks for solutions that work, rather than starting out from any ideological presumptions. It depends to a considerable degree on the free market because markets make economies efficient. But at the same time, the government is not shy to play a very active role — in public housing, education, healthcare, infrastructure. You are talking about a society and a political system where we are trying to work toward a middle ground rather than division between economic interest groups or racial groups or rich and poor or left- and right-wing. Basically most people benefit from the system and uphold the system … We have come these 50 years and we have kept our mission substantially intact. That’s quite an achievement.

Can this Singapore approach be emulated by other countries?

What we can do in Singapore may not be doable elsewhere. Some things you know you need, you want efficient government, you want clean government, you want to do away with corruption, you must educate your people. You want to get housing and so on. All these are not such secrets, not so special to Singapore. But how you can do it is very difficult and very different. For example, we have worked very hard to bring together our government, our unions and our employers. We call it a tripartite relationship. It’s a bit of an ungainly term, but it means something valuable to us. We bargain, we discuss, in the end there is a significant amount of give-and-take and mutual confidence and trust built up over many bargainings and many experiences shared — ups and downs. And so, we have the trust to move forward.

Moving forward, the Singapore approach naturally will evolve. How do you see that change happening?

When we started out, backs were to the wall. Today, our backs are not to the wall, so it does not appear to be a life-and-death matter and yet, in fact, it continues to be an act of will to be where we are. The tactics we were able to use in the 1960s, 1970s — let’s have a campaign, mobilize everybody and, therefore, social pressure — stop littering, or stop spitting, or be courteous to one another: I am not sure that kind of approach will work anymore. Secondly, there are more interests and preoccupations. If you look at the young people today, they are passionate about all kinds of courses. We have dog-lovers, nature-lovers, those who are pursuing arts, we have quite many who are involved in religious activities through their church. Even the Buddhist groups are active. So there is a much more variegated society and to find that common ground to stand together and make unity in diversity more than a slogan; that’s quite a challenge. The conventional wisdom in the West is that you let a hundred flowers bloom and everything will be happiness and sweetness and light. We don’t quite believe that. You have to tend the garden to make it flower and the challenge will be how we can do that while having a greater degree of free play and yet not have things end up in a bad outcome.

You have said that the politics will change. But the government has also been criticized for being paternalistic, for stressing society and family over the individual…

That’s the standard liberal line.

It is. You say you are aware of the changing needs and aspirations particularly of the youth. At the same time, very recently, the courts have convicted a 16-year-old for a video and a blogger for a post. How do you reconcile this?

There is always a balance between freedom and the rule of law; freedom is never totally unlimited. It operates within certain constraints. In our society, which is multiracial and multi-religious, giving offense to another religious or ethnic group, race, language or religion, is always a very serious matter. In this case, he’s a 16-year-old, so you have to deal with it appropriately because he’s of a young age. But even in the recent couple of years, we have seen many cases where one Internet post injudiciously can overnight cause a humongous row, everybody gets offended because they said something bad about Christians, said something about the Buddhists, some Chinese said something about the Malays. It can be a very big problem. So we have to take this seriously. With the Internet, it’s harder because it’s easier to give offense and easier to take offense and if we get agitated every time somebody gives offense, then we’ll spend our lives very agitated. And yet, it is necessary with the Internet to be more restrained and to learn where the limits are.

On the other case of defamation, you have freedom of speech, you can criticize the government as much as you like on policy, on substance, on competence. But if you make a defamatory allegation that the Prime Minister is guilty of criminal misappropriation of pension funds of Singaporeans, that’s a very serious matter. If it’s true, the Prime Minister should be charged and jailed. If it’s not true, the matter must be clarified and the best way to do that is by settling in court. If it’s untrue, it will be shown so. If it’s true, the Prime Minster will be destroyed. Somebody says very bad things about me, I don’t clear my name — do I deserve to be here or not? In an Asian society, particularly, if the leader can’t maintain his standing, he doesn’t deserve to be there. He will soon be gone.

You’ve got a big immigrant population that has helped the economy, that has probably enriched society, but that has also created resentment. How do you strike a balance between the local and immigrant population? What are the pitfalls of too much immigration?

It’s a big challenge, it’s very difficult to do. Ideally, no, not only ideally, but essentially, we must have a Singapore core in the society because if you don’t have that Singapore core, you can top up the numbers, but you are no longer Singapore. It doesn’t feel Singapore, it isn’t Singapore. So you really need a solid core of Singaporeans with quite deep roots here, born here or spent many years here and you need enough children born from Singaporeans here, Singaporean-born so that in the next generation it can continue and people know the society, do National Service here, school, work and so on. And then we can top up with immigrants in a controlled number. We can complement it with foreign workers who are not immigrants but come here, they work, their job is done, they go home.

Yet you have been quite successful in forging a national identity…

It is not so simple. If you are Japanese, there’s no doubt that you’re Japanese, you speak Japanese, you speak English with an accent most of the time and you will feel most comfortable in Japan. If you’ve grown up elsewhere as a Japanese, you go home, it doesn’t fit. Many Japanese diplomats have that problem with their children … In Singapore, we have race, language and religion to add to the mix. Language may be less, although the language identity of the Malays, or for that matter, of the Indians, will still be there and of a significant proportion of the Chinese population, that they want to keep that part of them even if their working language is English. The religion is a stronger motivator than ever before. It’s not just in Singapore, but all over the word, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, people take their religions very, very seriously. You can have other divisions. It can be values — LGBT issues can become a divisive issue. It can be based on ethnic and external relations. We are mostly Chinese, China becomes a great power, what is the impact on our people’s thinking and perspectives on the world and how does that impact on the Malays and the Indians who are non-Chinese? How will they feel if you find yourself tilted toward China? Will that not cause tensions at least? Divisions, we hope not. You cannot assume that people will automatically say “I am a Singaporean” and there’s no further sub-division or sub-classification that matters.

Could a non-Chinese be Prime Minister?

It could be, it depends on the person. You must have the right person — you must have the politics worked out, you must be able to connect both with the Chinese as well as the non-Chinese population. With the new generation, the chances are better. With the present generation, even today, if you go to the constituencies and you talk on the ground, you mingle, most of the time you would be speaking some Chinese. Even with the younger ones, a significant proportion of them would be more comfortable speaking in Mandarin because that’s their home conversational language. I have young people who write to me in Chinese. I am quite surprised, but they still exist. So, on the ground, if you cannot communicate in Mandarin and if they feel you cannot communicate in Mandarin, that’s a minus. That’s the ground reality.

You mentioned the increase in religiosity not just in Singapore but also in the rest of the world. What are the ramifications?

You could say it’s because of the stresses of modern living. You could also say it’s because these are global trends that have grown elsewhere and our people are influenced by that. If you look at our Christian churches, the Protestants particularly, they have very close links with Protestant churches elsewhere in America, even in Africa. And if you look at the Muslims, that’s worldwide. Maybe it’s Saudi Arabia, maybe it’s Iran, maybe it’s the madrassahs in Pakistan, but it’s worldwide, it’s a very, very strong Muslim revival.

Overall, religion is a good thing. If we were a godless society, we would have many other problems. Religion is a good thing provided we are able to bridge the differences between our different faiths, provided there’s give-and-take, provided we are able to get along together and not offend one another by aggressive proselytization, by denigrating other faiths, by being separate and, therefore, having suspicions of one another, which can easily happen. So you have to make an extra effort to develop that trust and to work together, which we have been doing.

Islam — you have an extra dimension because of the…

Because of the jihadist problem.

There’s a growing militancy in the Middle East and many of your neighbors are either Muslim-majority or have sizable Muslim populations. There have been cases of Indonesians, also Malaysians, going to fight for ISIS…

Singaporeans too.

So do you worry about a jihadist foothold in Southeast Asia?

We are very concerned about the jihadist terrorist threat. We had to take it very, very seriously since around 9/11 when we first discovered the Jemaah Islamiyah [JI] group here, which was intending to set off six or seven truck bombs and had got quite far advanced before we intervened and broke them up. The problem is endemic in the region. The Malaysians are having people getting converted and going and they’ve just arrested another couple of people. The Indonesians have hundreds who have gone and they are not just fighters going but families migrating to live under an ideal Islamic caliphate and they come back and when they come back, they are a problem. The ISIS objective is to set up a wilayat — a province of the worldwide Islamic caliphate — in Southeast Asia. I think that’s ridiculous. But there are a lot of corners of Southeast Asia where the government doesn’t run very strongly — in southern Thailand, southern Philippines, corners of Indonesia — and it’s not so far-fetched if they establish a foothold in one of these areas, as JI had a foothold in the southern Philippines. And if they have a little base there, you have a training camp there and then you claim that you are master of some territory and then people start to make their way there — that’s a different level of threat.

You can control within your own borders. But are you satisfied with the efforts made by neighboring governments to combat this potential threat?

We can control within our borders as long as we know we have information. We cooperate with our neighbors, we cooperate with other governments and security agencies, they share their information with us and us with them, and it’s very helpful. But when somebody radicalizes himself, we may not know because there is no network, there’s no trail. It’s between him and his computer and some video on the other end, or perhaps a contact he has established on the other end. If we are lucky, we may find out. If we are not lucky, well, he can get quite far. That’s a problem. Our neighbors have a much harder problem because they are much bigger countries. One police chief of one of my neighbors came to visit Singapore and we had a conference and he said to me, our difficulty is that 90% of our population is Muslim. And, therefore, it is very difficult for them to act against the terrorists without antagonizing the 90% who are Muslims. Not that the 90% of Muslims are terrorists, but how do you winkle this part out without causing collateral damage and political difficulty?

Lee Kuan Yew once told us that what China’s leaders called their nation’s “peaceful rise” was a contradiction in terms. Since then, China has become even more powerful and influential. Is the Chinese leadership overreaching? Is it, through its growing power, growing might, alienating its neighbors? Is it forfeiting its goodwill?

Every year the Chinese Premier attends the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. He comes with a very carefully thought-out set of things which he wants to do with ASEAN and he makes sure that there’s a little Christmas present for everybody and everybody sees that this is a relationship from which they can benefit. So the Chinese want their neighbors to be their friends. At the same time, on something like the South China Sea, they want their interests to prevail. [But] if they push too hard, there’ll be a pushback and even if you can’t resist the pressure because one country is big and the other is small, over the long term dominance based on just overwhelming power is not really an adequate basis for influence, much less soft power.

In the case of South China Sea, you do not have a claim…

We don’t have a claim, but we have an interest in seeing it managed and settled peacefully and in accordance to international law and UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]; we also have an interest in freedom of navigation and overflight.

So what are you telling the Chinese?

We’re telling the Chinese that you have your rights, you are entitled to assert your rights, but at the same time, you have to look at the broader relationship and calculate that how you handle the South China Sea issue will be seen as one marker of how a powerful China will assert its place in the world.

Do they get it?

I do not know, but I’ve said that to them … There’s some internal dynamics involved. The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will have a harder line; it is influential in their deliberations. I don’t know where in their system a soft line will come, but I think the Chinese population, if you ask them instinctively, I don’t think their instincts would be to say “let’s take a gentle approach because this will help us be seen as a benign panda.” I think that’s the mood in China now because the country has done well, it has prospered, it’s stronger, it has got an aircraft carrier. They think it’s time to stand up and assert their rights. They have been humiliated for too long.

The building, the expansion of reefs into full-fledged islands — what does that do to the delicate balance?

It’s creating facts on the ground.

You have spoken in Beijing about the need not to underestimate the U.S, not to overestimate the U.S. decline. Does China understand that?

The Chinese understand that it would be very many years before they can catch up to the Americans in terms of level of technology or science or defense. But they may think that with American elections coming and the administration approaching its last phase, that there’s a window of opportunity when the Americans are distracted elsewhere, that they will have greater freedom of maneuver. These are tactical calculations.

And what advice are you giving the Americans about what they should be doing in Asia and how committed they should be?

You have a lot of friends here, you have a lot of investments here, you have a lot of interests here and it’s foolish of you not to look to them. When you make decisions, you have to think about that, and not just your congressional district.

Do you get heat from Beijing that Singapore is too pro-U.S. or reflects too much the American point of view?

Every country would like their friends to stand closer to them on policies and issues, but I think they understand the reason why we take the stand we do. As a small country, we have to have our own independent stand, otherwise nobody will take us seriously.

You’ve talked a lot about the philosophy and character of Singapore. So much of that was shaped by Lee Kuan Yew. How much of your own thinking on politics, culture, world affairs, life itself, is influenced by him?

A great deal. I mean, he’s my father, I grew up learning from him, I worked under him when he was Prime Minister, with him in the Cabinet these last 30 years until he died. So it’s bound to be a very deep influence. Yet at the same time, it’s a different world and he knew that and he was very good at preparing for Singapore to move on and not be stuck in the Lee Kuan Yew mode. Only very rarely did he assert a strong view and asked us to please rethink something. But otherwise, he allowed an evolution to take place so that Singapore would carry on beyond him. And if you watch what happened when he died, we had an enormous outpouring of sorrow, but Singapore carried on. The stock market didn’t crash, investors didn’t panic, confidence was maintained.

Were you a rebellious teenager?

In my generation we didn’t think in those terms. You don’t always agree with your parents, but I never had long hair or wore bell-bottoms.

Besides Lee Kuan Yew, when you look at the pantheon of world leaders, both current and past, who are the other great men and women whom you admired?

Lula [Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] in Brazil was remarkable — very little education, left-wing firebrand, mobilized a nation, became President and was able to not only to get people to support him, but actually pursue very sensible policies that promoted growth and development and improve people’s lives. He was able to make that transition from being a firebrand and a revolutionary to somebody who can cause growth and development. I thought it was remarkable. I met him and I was very impressed. Then you look at Angela Merkel; she’s a very careful politician. She’s got many constraints, but she’s well-established in her home base and deeply respected outside of Germany and not only in Europe. And if you talk to her, I mean, she’s not somebody aloof and overbearing. Very personable frau, but a very capable and steady woman. She will not cause a revolution, but she knows what she needs to do as Bundeskanzler [Chancellor of Germany].

You’ve mentioned two leaders from liberal democratic nations.

I only met King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia once and he was already in his late 80s. I was quite impressed because you think of this as a society where people scrape and bow and I’ve seen some other Arab monarchs where people literally scrape and bow and prostate themselves. But I called on him and he had his ministers in attendance and we had a conversation, him with me and then he brought the ministers into the conversation. I watched them, and the ministers addressed him, at most primus inter pares. It was a very easy, confident, relaxed relationship. There’s a conversation, there’s a respectful response. He made reforms within what’s possible in the society. To do that at the age of 80-something, that’s not easy.

What is your sense of Xi Jinping?

I have met him quite a number of times. I have chatted with him before he became President and then even after, called on him, just talked to him sometimes over dinner. He masters his brief, he knows what he wants, and he will discuss many things with you. When people think of a Communist country with a leader, you will think of somebody like Brezhnev or Tito. [Xi] is not like that. He’s not a pushover at all. He knows what he wants, and there is a curiosity about the world.

READ MORE: Singapore’s Next Story

TIME Travel

These Are the World’s Best Airports

From China to Texas

For years, airports were little more than stale, gray holding grounds endured only briefly before boarding and during layovers. Cramped, tandem chairs and saran-wrapped sandwiches were the status quo.

Significant innovations and attractions have transformed airports into more than just a stopover to your final destination. Efficient layouts, epicurean dining, and luxe shopping are just a few of the features turning the airport experience on its nose.

That’s why Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards added airports to its annual survey in 2013. That year, Singapore’s Changi Airport took the No. 1 spot for international hubs. And it did so the following year, too. Since inaugurating the category, Changi has come out as the best international airport every time.

Last year, we separated International and Domestic Airports into two distinct categories. In doing so, Portland International Airport was vaulted to the top of the U.S. list. It’s been No. 1 two years in a row, and we suspect it will continue to be a local and visitor favorite.

The next time you’re booking a flight, consider connecting to one of the world’s best airports—both small regional terminals and major international hubs made the list—and you might even find yourself actually enjoying the wait between flights.

  • No. 5 International: Munich Airport, Germany

    munich-airport
    Courtesy of Munich Airport

    Score: 75.615

    Would you expect anything less than pint perfection from Germany’s second busiest airport? Travelers celebrate flight delays over a cold brew at Airbräu, a tavern-style biergarten with onsite brewery, live music, and a fringe of chestnut trees. Afterward, retreat to an individual, space-age sleeping pod (outfitted with iPhone and USB docks) or wake up with a cup of free coffee and complimentary copy of the Financial Times. This impressive steel-and-glass complex, with its impressive runway views from the skywalk and assortment of Bavarian pastry shops, is becoming even more notable. Before the end of this year, the airport’s new satellite Terminal 2 will be complete.

  • No. 4 International: Zurich Airport, Switzerland

    zurich-airport
    Zurich Airport

    Score: 77.188

    Calm and convenience are two words rarely associated with airports: or travel in general, for that matter. But as the Swiss historically do, logic and order have been enforced with an airport we can only describe as graceful. Self-service check-ins (programmed in three languages), seamless integration with the metro, and separate arrival zones for speedy security are a few of the airport’s smart innovations. Thanks to a $200 million expansion that was completed in 2011, the European hub now sports twin rooftop terraces. Board the Skymetro to enjoy the calming sounds of the Alps while shuttling between Terminals A and E.

  • No. 3 International: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands

    amsterdam-schiphol
    Remko de Waal—AFP/Getty Images

    Score: 79.198

    Century-old Amsterdam Schiphol Airport boasts a number of firsts. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the world’s only museum annex at an airport, and for no cost travelers can spend their layovers appreciating paintings by Dutch masters such as Steen and Rembrandt. Settle into a cushy armchair at the world’s first airport library and browse the collection of tomes printed in 29 languages. Can’t get enough of this airport? A five-star Hilton will open before the end of the year. All the more reason to linger at one of the outdoor terraces and appreciate the relative airport calm made possible by the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a noise-reducing series of ridges and ripples.

  • No. 2 International: Hong Kong International Airport, China

    hong kong
    Courtesy of Hong Kong International Airport

    Score: 85.067

    If all airports had iSports simulators, regulation golf courses, and IMAX theaters, we might (cheerfully) arrive a few hours early in the hopes of securing a bit of playtime. Kick-off the fun at the city’s Central station, where you can check your bags for a comfortable, hassle-free train ride to the airport. Fill up before boarding on tender pork dumplings at Crystal Jade, or the outpost of Michelin-starred Hung’s Delicacies. After all that action, head to the OM Spa at the connected Regal Airport Hotel. Treatment highlights include mosaic steam rooms and soothing jasmine milk baths.

  • No. 1 International: Changi International Airport, Singapore

    changi airport
    Changi Airport Group

    Score: 89.547

    For three years in a row, Changi International Airport has asserted its superiority over all other international urban hubs. As the 15thbusiest airport, Changi’s layout is necessarily intuitive and thoughtful. Hundreds of so-called “Changi Experience Agents,” sporting purple and pink blazers and wielding iPads, are on hand to assist lost, perplexed, or harried travelers. Charging stations with lock-boxes and free foot massage machines are a few of the small touches that make people pleased to idle here. There is also something clearly Singaporean about the aesthetic. There’s a two-level butterfly habitat in the new Terminal 3 filled with thousands of fluttering creatures, a Balinese-style rooftop pool, and five distinct gardens throughout the property presenting everything from waterfalls to sunflowers and orchids. Movie theaters, lounges, and authentic restaurants are great for those seeking a diversion. And for those looking to refresh, there are dedicated Snooze Lounges in every terminal. One thing is for certain—we’re sincerely looking forward to the new terminal, scheduled to open in 2017.

  • No. 5 Domestic: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

    austin-bergstrom
    Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

    Score: 74.022

    Despite a growing volume of travelers—nearly 11 million in 2014—Austin-Bergstrom International Airport keeps flights on time and passengers pleased. The hassle-free hub is just around the corner from downtown Austin, and for those who experience serious pinings for local grub before leaving the city limits, there’s Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. The venerable local franchise serves up sauce-covered sandwiches and sides worthy of entrée portions, such as coleslaw and potato salad. Excellent customer service from check-in to departure doesn’t hurt, either.

  • No. 4 Domestic: Dallas Love Field, Texas

    dallas-love-field
    Courtesy of Dallas Love Field

    Score: 74.621

    DFW’s little brother is moving up the ranks, beating mainstays like Charlotte Douglas and Orlando. While enplanements at Love Field plummeted when Fort Worth opened, the result was a unique, leisurely airport experience. Murals, sculptures, and paintings from local Texan artists decorate the new Terminal 2, which is also home to community-favorite food and beverage options. Wait for your next boarding call (probably for Southwest, which now has 16 gates at Love Field) while sipping a frozen margarita at Cantina Laredo.

  • No. 3 Domestic: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

    minneapolis-airport
    Courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

    Score: 75.48

    Maintaining its spot at No. 3, this bustling hub doesn’t falter when it comes to cheerful service (even in the face of those horrible Midwestern winters). Shopaholics have long favored Minneapolis-St. Paul for its upscale mini-mall disposition, with storefronts like Aveda, Bose, Tumi, and Wilsons Leather making it a worthy retail destination even if you don’t have travel plans. A full-scale renovation in 2010 saw $3.2 billion in improvements to infrastructure, including two new terminals with a skyway security checkpoint.

  • No. 2 Domestic: Tampa International Airport, Florida

    tampa-international-airport
    David Lawrence

    Score: 76.671

    Travelers may just choose to enter the Sunshine State via Tampa, thanks to its uncomplicated layout and light-filled rooms. The current renovation and expansion project aims to add an indoor/outdoor terrace and dozens of new concessions, as well as a new conductor-free train to teleport the airport into the 21stcentury. Already, modern features such as estimated checkpoint wait times have kept things sailing smoothly through security and ticketing.

  • No. 1 Domestic: Portland International Airport, Oregon

    portland-airport
    Courtesy of Port of Portland

    Score: 79.162

    PDX shines as the best airport in the U.S., thanks to an impressive on-time departure record and convenient location just minutes from downtown. Advancements like in-line baggage screening have helped keep the process streamlined, while such quirky, crunchy granola novelties (goats to remove invasive plant life, protected from predators by a llama) and food trucks (steamed buns and vinegar sodas from Pok Pok) give the airport an authentic Portland vibe.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

    More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME viral

Watch Two Filipino Divers Spectacularly Mess Up in International Competition

That's two perfect zeroes

A video of two Filipino divers has gone viral after the two athletes botched up their fourth dives in the men’s 3-m springboard event Wednesday at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

John Elmerson Fabriga, 21, and John David Pahoyo, 17, both landed awkwardly on their backs after attempting their dives, fails that earned them both a score of zero from the judges, reports the Inquirer.net.

Both men tried to laugh off their blunders after the dive and Pahoyo even commented on the video, which has racked up over 1.6 million views after it was posted to the Facebook page SGAG.

“I even laughed at myself after I did this dive,” he said tagging his teammate Fabriga. “I am still proud because not all of us has the privilege to represent our own country to such a big sporting event like this. And by the way can I ask all of you if you can still smile after getting embarrassed in front of thousands of people?”

But not everybody is laughing, as Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia reportedly said Thursday he wants an explanation from the aquatics chief Mark Joseph.

“I will give the opportunity for the Philippine Swimming Inc. president to explain, because he fought for these divers to come here and compete,” said Garcia.

[Inquirer.net]

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