TODAY published excerpts of Mr Lee’s question and answer session that was part of a 45-minute dialogue held last night at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
Among more than 10 questions posed to Mr Lee, a couple looked at sustainability issues of energy and food.
Question and answer time with Lee Kuan Yew
Student: We know Singapore is trying to be self-sufficient in terms of water. But with regards to energy, do you think that it is inevitable for Singapore to have nuclear power? If that’s the case, what challenges do you think Singapore will face?
Mr Lee Kuan Yew: Eventually every country will have to consider nuclear power because we have a completely carbon-based economy, either coal or oil, earth warming will become a dangerous biological change for everybody with rising sea levels. Can it be managed after the fearful event at Fukushima where an earthquake and a tsunami and the breakdown of the nuclear power station? Yes, I think it can. And it must because there is no other choice. Mine may be a minority view at present but you look at the alternative, burn all the coal, burn all the oil or gas, warm up the earth, sea levels rise … So, can it (nuclear power) be made safe? I think so. US and China are trying to do (the) same with nuclear submarines … they stay under the ocean for years without detection and they produce their own water and their own oxygen recycled. Now if they can make nuclear machines, power machines that safe for a group of 150 people or more and out in a submarine, it is not beyond the imagination of man to make it safe for multiples of that number.
Student: In the next 20 to 30 years time, what if global demand for food outstrips supply, then what will be of our food security plan?
Mr Lee: It doesn’t matter whether you grow your own food or you buy your food. The question is the price. If there is a food shortage worldwide, the price of food, produce will go up. And the answer for a country like Singapore is to make sure that our incomes rise, our total GDP rises faster than the food prices.
Student: Youth are becoming more politically aware since the recent elections. What do you think of this trend and do you have any advice for youth in terms of understanding the governance and politics of Singapore?
Mr Lee: When you say they are politically aware, what do you mean by that? Because to be aware of your political situation in Singapore, you have to be aware of the political divide between classes, in the way the economy is going, what opportunities there are for different groups of people. So being politically aware after the election means you just got excited for the election and voted for one party or the other, that does not mean you are politically aware. If you are politically aware, your votes must have been much wiser.