Speech by Mr. Goh Chok Tong, Prime Minister of Singapore at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) in Japan, on Friday, 28 March 2003

Challenges for Asia

The world is being reshaped before our very eyes, for better or worse. The question is: how can Japan and Singapore influence the outcome in our national interests?

Reshaping of the World

The end of the Cold War has not resulted in a more peaceful world. On the contrary, the post-Cold War world is a messier and more dangerous place. After the Cold War, we were plunged into the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. That was followed by the long struggle to disarm Saddam Hussein, culminating in the on-going war. In the 90s, we also saw political turmoil, ethnic cleansing and a NATO-led intervention in the Balkans. We witnessed the collapse of states in Somalia and Haiti, and genocide in Rwanda. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues with increasing violence.

Then there were the horrific 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda. Suddenly, no one is safe. We are all vulnerable to further attacks from this highly-organized and well-financed global terrorist network.

The world is also being reshaped geo-politically. Three key developments contribute to this re-configuration of international political and strategic relations:
-First, the unprecedented pre-eminence of the US;
-Second, the rise of China; and
-Third, the political discontinuity in Indonesia.