Skip to main content

Singapore PM criticizes U.S. `game of chicken'

By Pamela Boykoff, CNN
October 8, 2013 -- Updated 0359 GMT (1159 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Singapore prime minister criticizes U.S. shutdown as a "game of chicken"
  • Prime Minister Lee fears the squabble could have long-term impact for world's largest economy
  • The economic fate of the city-state is closely linked with the health of the U.S. economy
  • U.S. President Obama canceled his visit to the 21-nation APEC summit over the shutdown

(CNN) -- Singapore's prime minister openly criticized the United States over the government shutdown and ongoing deadlock over the debt ceiling, calling them "problems you have created for yourself in a game of chicken."

In an interview with CNN's Patricia Wu on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Americans "are unable to get their act together," and that Washington's behavior sends a "negative signal which will last much longer that the shutdown."

The government shutdown led U.S. President Barack Obama to cancel his attendance at the APEC Leaders' summit just days before he was meant to arrive. The summit finishes today in Bali, Indonesia. Aside from Taiwan, Obama is the only leader missing among the 21 economies of the APEC group, which together account for half the world's output, 45% of its trade and 3 billion of its inhabitants.

READ MORE: Obama APEC absence boon for Xi, Putin

U.S. shutdown and APEC
General Electric talks long-term growth

The U.S. government is also facing an October 17 deadline to raise its debt ceiling or risk a possible default.

Prime Minister Lee said he was more worried about the long-term message the U.S. was sending than the prospect of a direct hit to U.S. growth.

FORTUNE: Debt ceiling scenarios freaking out traders

Asked if the U.S. would benefit from a system like Singapore's -- where government ministers are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries -- Lee said he believes his country runs a clean system in which officials are paid "what their job is worth."

He criticized the conflicts of interest that result from the "revolving door" between the United States government and the private sector. Lee is paid more than $1 million to serve as Singapore's prime minister.

Singapore is heavily dependent on exports and trade, so the fate of the city-state is closely linked with the health of the U.S. economy. Both Singapore's property and stock markets have boomed over the last few years as investors flooded in seeking higher returns thanks to loose liquidity from the U.S. Federal Reserve and China.

The prime minister said he is comfortable with Singapore's footing as the United Stated considers turning off the flow of easy money.

"The emerging economies, many of them are concerned. They didn't want the money to slosh in. They are afraid when the money sloshes out, but the tapering has to take place and we have to be able to manage it," Lee said.

CNNMoney: Fed taper won't cause another financial crisis in Asia

He also expressed concern over the stiffening tone in territorial disputes between Asia's power players, including Japan and China.

"It is very hard for any government to give up what it has claimed, because it will lose face and standing and domestic support, so you can only manage these issues, you cannot solve them," Lee said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT