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Message from Ambassador of Singapore to Cambodia HE Michael Tan

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Dear readers of Khmer Times,

A National Day is a day to celebrate a country’s nationhood or independence. For Singapore, it commemorates the nation’s determined journey from a trading outpost in the British Empire to attaining sovereignty as a city-state. It is also a reminder that without the support, help and cooperation of friendly countries and institutions both near and far, and big and small, it would not have been possible for the Little Red Dot to elevate its economy and its people’s standard of living from Third World to First in two generations – in other words, the Singapore Story could not have been written.

Regardless of whether Singapore is a modern miracle or paradox, August 9 is therefore a day of celebration for not just Singaporeans, but also the friends and partners of Singapore.

Singapore-Cambodia bilateral relations

As one of the first countries to recognise Singapore’s independence in 1965, the Kingdom of Cambodia is one of our longstanding friends. It is hence no surprise that the past year has been a busy one for Singapore-Cambodia bilateral relations.

On the Singapore side, we started the calendar year with the State Visit by President HE Dr Tony Tan. Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information HE Dr Janil Puthucheary attended the World Economic Forum on Asean in Phnom Penh in May, and our Foreign Minister HE Dr Vivian Balakrishnan looks forward to making an official visit to Cambodia in the later part of the year. From the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron made an official visit to Singapore last October, and we look forward to hosting Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation HE Prak Sokhonn in the near future.

On the business front, several visits to Cambodia by Singapore business delegations to explore collaboration opportunities with Cambodian and foreign partners show confidence in Cambodia’s potential and future, and the Kingdom’s peace and stability. [See pages 3 & 6 for the latest bilateral economic and trade figures.]

Our people-to-people ties are warm and friendly, underpinned and bolstered by frequent exchange of visits between the two countries, governments, institutions and people. An increasing number of youth groups from Singapore schools and the National Youth Corps, as well as NGOs and volunteers, also participate in community engagement projects in Cambodia.

Singapore cooperation programme

Singapore was a beneficiary of developmental assistance in its early years of independence, which allowed it to invest in and develop its only natural resource – its people. Singapore is thus committed to being a responsible member of the international community and to paying it forward, including through the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). The SCP was established in 1992 to share our developmental experiences with others. Through the SCP and other platforms, in particular, the SCP’s Cambodia-Singapore Training Centre (CSTC) in Phnom Penh, we will continue working with Cambodia to help grow its human development capacity in diverse fields such as public administration, vocational training, sustainable development, urban planning, tourism, information and communication technology and the English language. 

Asean

Singapore is a firm believer in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and we share in Asean’s common challenges, potential and destiny. As Singapore assumes the Asean Chairmanship in 2018, we look forward to working closely with Cambodia and other Asean member countries to build a strong and well-integrated Asean Community.

On this occasion, I would like to thank Cambodia and its people for their longstanding and warm friendship. I wish all Cambodians and Singaporeans, and friends of Singapore, good health and success.

History and our unconventional existence

Singapore is an anomaly, an improbable nation birthed out of an accident of history. Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew observed in 1957 that “island nations are political jokes”. Singapore’s leaders and policy makers took serious heed of this sobering prognosis. They worked smart and toiled hard to determine that Singapore would be a master of its own destiny. Today, Singapore is the only sovereign and independent city-state that is fully responsible for its own defence; its national boundaries coincide exactly with its city limits. Yes, it is that small and vulnerable; but this pressure is also the reason for Singapore’s relentless pursuit of excellence, which ensures our continued relevance and existence.

Michael Tan

Singapore Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

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