Skip to main content

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

By Pamela Boykoff, CNN
updated 11:59 PM EDT, Mon October 7, 2013
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
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT