Dear readers of Khmer Times,
As Singapore celebrates 54 years of its independence on 9 August, we also commemorate the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival on our shores in 1819 when he founded modern-day Singapore as we know it today. The celebration is also an occasion to remind ourselves that Singapore’s journey was made possible because of the strong support and cooperation of our friends and partners around the world.
Robust Bilateral Relations
As one of the first countries to recognise Singapore’s independence in 1965, Cambodia is a longstanding friend. We enjoy regular and frequent exchanges of bilateral visits at all levels, and the past year was no exception.
President of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia Hun Many visited Singapore as part of the Cambodian delegation for our Chingay Parade in February 2019, while Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing visited Siem Reap to attend the 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Meeting in March 2019. Minister Chan also called on Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Meeting. Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck also visited in March to explore increased law enforcement collaboration. This was followed by RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Commander of Royal Cambodian Army Hun Manet’s introductory visit to Singapore to boost military ties in June 2019. Cambodia hosted the first Singapore-Cambodia Bilateral Consultations between both foreign ministries in June as well. I am happy that it will be Singapore’s turn to host the next Bilateral Consultations.
Growing Business Interest
There continues to be growing interest from Singapore businesses who recognise the growth potential and investment opportunities that Cambodia offers. This is evidenced by the larger footprint of Singapore businesses in Cambodia across various sectors, including food and beverage, real estate, energy, hospitality, insurance, finance, fintech, healthcare and more. Our bilateral trade increased to USD4.8 billion in 2018, and cumulative investment was over USD1.2 billion (since 1994).
Infrastructure is another area that Singapore has interest in. Infrastructure Asia (IA), a new Singapore agency, aims to bring the best-in-class and good fitting international solutions to Asia’s infrastructure needs. It intends to do so by tapping on Singapore’s socio-economic development experience and capitalising on the large number of infrastructure multi-national corporations, companies and experts based out of Singapore. IA also plans to leverage on Singapore as a financial hub to source for the most suitable financing options for infrastructure projects. I am happy to inform our readers that IA has identified Cambodia as one of their priority markets, and has begun working with several Cambodian ministries on waste water and waste to energy projects.
Partners in Development
Singapore is committed to sharing its development experience and journey with Cambodia through our Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). Under the SCP, we conduct capacity building programmes at the Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Centre (CSCC) in various fields that are
tailored to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s specific needs and requests. We are happy that to date, more than 9,200 officials have participated in a course or workshop at the CSCC. The Singapore Embassy in Phnom Penh has also facilitated several study visits to Singapore each year. Through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements and the involvement of organisations such as Temasek Foundation International (TFI) – the Singapore-based philanthropic arm of sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings – we have supported various in-country train-the-trainer programmes in public governance, leadership, healthcare and other priority reform areas identified by the Ministry of Civil Service and other line ministries.
Another example of our PPP approach is the partnership between TFI and SingHealth – Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster –– with the Cambodian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) to provide assistance to victims of landmines and their families who suffer from psychological and psychiatric trauma. This will include a pilot 3-year train-the-trainers programme so that medical practitioners, allied health therapists, care givers and volunteers will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide assistance in an area of need that has not been adequately addressed. Singapore is working with the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC) to bring the project to fruition.
I am also pleased to note that beyond these formal arrangements, hundreds of Singaporeans – students, doctors, housewives, businessmen, employees – visit Cambodia each year to participate in community outreach projects. The volunteer and social work in the various provinces include water sanitation/treatment, teaching English, offering free medical assistance, helping out at mobile clinics and aid distribution centres, among others. An example is Singapore-based NGO Operation Hope Foundation (OHF) which operates an 80,000 sq feet “Hope Village” in Prey Veng. With the assistance of Singapore volunteers, OHF recently commissioned new water treatment plants and houses for the poor which was officiated by Prey Veng Governor Chea Somethy in July 2019. On this occasion, I would like to remind and encourage my fellow Singaporeans and Singapore businesses in Cambodia to always be on the lookout for ways to give back to the host community, whether through CSR or through the transfer of knowledge, skills and opportunities to your Cambodian employees or colleagues. This will truly be a meaningful way to celebrate Singapore’s 54 years of development journey with the host country and its people. I wish all Cambodians, Singaporeans, and friends of Singapore good health, success and prosperity.
Singapore Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia