Singapore is striving to be a global city, and must manage the stresses and strains of becoming one, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
LONDON: Singapore is striving to be a global city, and must manage the stresses and strains of becoming one, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Prime Minister Lee, who is on a three-day visit to the United Kingdom, made that point after receiving the Freedom of the City award in London on Thursday.
Mr Lee said Singapore has to stay cohesive and united, as it continues pursuing excellence and remains on par with London, and other top cities in the world.
Mr Lee is the third Singaporean to receive the Freedom of the City award.
The award is given by the municipality to a valued member of the community.
The first Singaporean to receive it was former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1982.
In his speech while accepting the award, Mr Lee dedicated the award to Singaporeans and spoke of the similarities between Singapore and London.
"Like London, we too must manage the stresses and strains of being a global city. But unlike London, we have no larger country which is our hinterland. Our city is our country.
“Hence, we must get the balance just right -- between national identity and cosmopolitan openness, between free-market competition and social solidarity,” he said.
Mr Lee said London's global standing is an enormous advantage both for itself and the UK.
But, there are also challenges, like higher property prices and challenges in social integration.
He was, however, optimistic that London would grow from strength to strength with quintessential British resourcefulness and resolve.
In pointing to the strong economic ties between the two cities, Mr Lee spoke about London cabs and buses run by ComfortDelGro and the opening of Temasek Holdings' European office in London on Friday.
In a speech full of personal anecdotes, Mr Lee said he looked forward to even closer ties.
"Singapore and London are two cities, perched off the shores of two continents, but connected by an intertwined history and many personal ties and friendships.
“As your youngest Freeman, I look forward to building on our close and longstanding friendship, so that this happy Tale of Two Cities will long endure,” he added.
The first Freedom of the City award is believed to be presented in 1237. Even though most of the practical reasons for getting the award have disappeared, it remains a unique part of London's history.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Lee met his British counterpart David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
Both leaders reaffirmed the excellent relations between the two countries in a wide-ranging discussion, where they also welcomed closer collaboration in bilateral trade and investment.
Mr Cameron reiterated his country's strong support for the early ratification of the European Union - Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
In addition, he supported closer air links between the two countries.
Mr Lee was also updated on developments in the UK, particularly the referendum on Scotland.
In September, Scotland will vote on independence.