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Thread: Extradition treaty won't harm Singapore banks, property: MM

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    Default Extradition treaty won't harm Singapore banks, property: MM

    Extradition treaty won't harm Singapore banks, property: MM

    By Lee U-Wen, TODAY | Posted: 25 April 2007 1018 hrs

    The agreement between Singapore and Indonesia to sign an extradition treaty will not scare wealthy Indonesians away from Singapore, nor will the pact harm the Republic's banking and property sectors.

    Making these points yesterday, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said the treaty — to be signed in Bali on Friday — would, rather, "act as an inhibitor".

    "It's laughable. Do you believe that any Indonesian who was likely to be extradited would be here at all? (The treaty) acts as an inhibitor, and does give an extra barrier for any would-be escapee from their system," he said in an interview with Reuters before gracing the opening of its new office at One Raffles Quay.

    It was late on Monday when both countries reached an agreement on the treaty and the Defence Cooperation Agreement, after years of discussions.

    At a dialogue yesterday with business and financial market leaders, Mr Lee said: "The Indonesians are not babes in the woods, and neither are we. They know that before an Indonesian can come to Singapore, they must go through their customs and immigration. If he doesn't get through with a passport, how can he come to Singapore?"

    Meanwhile in Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said he was hopeful the treaty would lead to the arrests of a number of officials and business figures accused of corruption during former President Suharto's regime, and who had fled and parked their money in Singapore.

    Mr Lee stressed that Singapore's financial sector was "not built up on Indonesian money". He added: "We have, today, handled about $720 billion in funds. They come from not just the immediate region but now from India, the Gulf, some from China, some from Europe. Indonesian money is no more than 2 to 3 per cent of it."

    During the lively 50-minute dialogue, Mr Lee touched on a range of issues, but a question on global warming drew a passionate response from him. One participant had sought his views on how Singapore, despite its reputation as a green city, had a significantly high per-capita amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Putting that view into the proper perspective of Singapore's position as a manufacturing base for many multinational companies with large operations, Mr Lee added: "Global warming is a threat to humanity. We are a small part of it, but we must do our best ... As we move from big industries to smaller ones (like) electronics, pharmaceuticals, services, I think the (emissions) ratio will go down. I'm a big believer that we have to be part of the movement."

    With sea levels rising due to global warming, the world had "left it too late", said Mr Lee. "There are times, I feel the human mind ... has not caught up with reality."

    The Minister Mentor also touched on the rising number of Singaporeans living, working and studying abroad, currently standing at 150,000. He estimated this figure would double to 300,000 in 10 years.

    "Singaporeans don't like to travel, they like the comforts and security of home. But the attractions are now elsewhere. How can you turn away doubling or trebling your net income?" he said.

    As the Singapore economy continues to prosper, concerns remain about the high cost of living and doing business here, noted one participant. In response, Mr Lee said many recent reports had painted Singapore as "the place to be", leading to a sudden spike in demand for office space and manpower, among other things.

    "This is a temporary phase ... Rents are cyclical. They will come down. We are not Hong Kong, and we know that. We just cannot afford to let (rental rates) become astronomical," he said. - TODAY/ra

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    Default Re: Extradition treaty won't harm Singapore banks, property: MM

    Published April 25, 2007

    Pact won't chase away Indon money

    Accord no surprise to anybody, says MM Lee


    (SINGAPORE) Singapore's extradition treaty with Indonesia won't scare rich Indonesians away because it comes as no surprise, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said last night.

    He made the remarks - the first by a government minister here since the pact was agreed on Monday - in response to a question at a media event organised by Reuters news agency.

    'These discussions and negotiations on the extradition treaty have been going on for several years,' he said. 'It's no surprise to anybody.'

    Mr Lee also said he believes economic growth this year will reach the upper end of the government's forecast range of 4.5-6.5 per cent.

    'Much will depend on how the US consumer behaves,' he said. 'My guess is it doesn't look as if there will be a major downturn in the US, so we may be at the higher end.'

    The treaty with Indonesia, which will be signed on Friday in Bali, was agreed after several years of negotiations.

    Details will be released after the signing.

    Indonesia has been pushing for the treaty, which it believes will help it in its fight against corrupt tycoons fleeing the country with ill-gotten funds. Singapore has denied allegations that it is a centre for such money, saying it has strict rules in place to prevent money laundering.

    Mr Lee estimates that 'no more than 2-3 per cent' of the $720 billion of funds managed in Singapore comes from Indonesia. The rest comes from around the world - 'not just the immediate region, but from India, the Gulf, China and Europe'.

    'The money is put here because we have a sound and stable economic and security environment. And we have a collection of some of the most experienced fund managers and financial analysts in the world.'

    The current property market boom, fuelled in part by foreign buyers, is a demonstration of the depth of confidence in Singapore's economy, Mr Lee said. 'In the old days when we had an upturn, we had lots of people from the region buying - Malaysians, Indonesians, Hongkongers, Thais. This time, we're finding expatriates buying - Gulf Arabs, a wide diversity of people - which means they believe this is going to be for a long time.'

    There have even been buyers from Monaco, he said. 'I took that as a great tribute. That is the difference between this particular spike and other spikes - the other spikes were regional, this one is international.'

    The growth is likely to continue, he reckons. 'I do not see any major instability either in Korea or Taiwan . . . short of an oil crisis or major crisis over Iran, I think we're set to grow.'

    Mr Lee also spoke on the recent controversy over Genting International's ties with Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho.

    'We knew that when we decided to go for integrated resorts with two casinos, we were exposing ourselves to social and criminal problems,' he said.

    'We're going to take every measure possible to make sure that we do not lose the qualities that we have . . . social order, low crime, no money laundering, no Mafia. We'll try every single precaution and we'll take every remedial action that's necessary.

    'If you talk about Macau's Stanley Ho, I'd say that's a matter for the police and the financial people who know about money laundering to decide. But we're not taking any risks.'

    On global warming, Mr Lee said there is a strong need for governments to act.

    'I think global warming is a threat to humanity,' he said. 'We are a very small part of it but we must do our best to show that we are as active and responsible as we can be. I am a great believer that we have to be a part of the movement.'

    Responding to a question on a report earlier this year that said Singapore's energy usage per person was among the highest in the world, he said: 'We are really a base for multinationals here, a manufacturing base. It's not the Singapore population using (the energy). It is the world market using Singapore through these multinationals to produce.'

    As Singapore moves more into services and smaller manufacturing industries such as electronics and pharmaceuticals, per capita energy usage will decrease, Mr Lee predicted.

    But even a small increase in sea level due to climate change would drastically reduce the liveable land area here, he said. 'We are into a very serious problem not in 100 years, but in 50 years.'

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