SINGAPORE, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ruled out the possibility of a repeat of the Asian financial crisis despite concerns over capital flight as the United States ends its expansionary monetary policy.
Speaking at a dialogue session with business leaders on late Tuesday, Lee said the Asian economies are much stronger than they were in the late 1990s, with safeguards put in place to deal with the impact of large capital flows, he said.
"On balance I would take a sanguine view," he said in reply to a question from moderator Robin Hu, chief executive of the South China Morning Post Group.
However, certain individual countries may have problems, he added.
"On balance I would say we are in a safe position," he said, quoted by local media Wednesday. "I don't see this being a new global crisis or regional crisis."
He cited the Chiang Mai Initiative, a regional currency swap arrangement to help the economies in the region to strengthen their balance sheets and support their currencies in times of need, as an example of the safeguards.
He said he believes that big developed economies like the United States will unwind their quantitative easing with care so as not to destabilize their own economies.
He said he was confident of the future of China in spite of the many challenges and the bold reforms that are needed.
"They have made a lot of progress," he said. "Now they have to catch up on the reforms which are still outstanding and will continue to be a work in progress, and that is at the top of the minds of the leaders."
He said he saw the Chinese committed to continued economic liberalization, and that the officials understand what is at stake and will support what needs to be done.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is not likely to face the problems beleaguering the eurozone as it does not have a single currency problem.
"For ASEAN, the lesson is there is a lot of benefit from economic integration, but we must not put the cart before the horse. Let's work together, but do it in a way that respects the differences in our countries and also recognizes that we are 10 different countries.
"We are ASEAN: it is a regional association, not a union, and that makes all the difference," he said.
Nevertheless, Lee said that it was important to remain cautious about the future, and urged Singapore companies to continue looking outwards and become globally competitive.
For the local companies to succeed, they will need people who are prepared to work in difficult places. The lack of such talent could limit Singapore's potential success.
"We also want people who're prepared to go out and take adventure, dive in and be deployed in difficult places and learn what happens there and make your way in the world," he said.