SINGAPORE needs to change how its foreign policy is viewed, to correct the perceptions that it is a competitive country which cares only about its survival, said the author of a new book.
Political science analyst Amitav Acharya argued that Singapore's foreign policy 'is much more complex' than that.
Singapore has, for example, been an active promoter of regional integration in Asean. That does not benefit only the Republic, but the wider region as well.
'Once people begin to understand this, others will look at you and think this is not just a take-all, competitive country,' he said after the launch of his book on Singapore's Foreign Policy at the Institute of Policy Studies on Tuesday.
The India-born author was formerly deputy director and head of research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Now with the University of Bristol in Britain, he is director of its Governance Research Centre and chair of global governance at the Department of Politics.
While Professor Acharya makes it clear that he is not here to advise the government on what to do, he said there is a need to look beyond an 'us versus them' approach in foreign policy.
Political science lecturer Alan Chong, also speaking at the launch of the book, titled Singapore's Foreign Policy: The Search For Regional Order, noted that the Republic's foreign policy went beyond 'hard power' - the use of military might.
It has exhibited 'soft power' such as its role in helping countries struck by the 2004 tsunami to rebuild.Singapore has also long been a voice of rationality in times of conflict.
Besides the perception of the Republic's foreign policy, academics, diplomats and civil servants also discussed the decentralisation of foreign policy-making in a session after the book launch.
Prof Acharya said Singapore should look at how it can take in more input from non-governmental individuals when it comes to foreign policy-making.
'This helps to take into account the views of different sections of the public.'