MESSAGE BY HIS EXCELLENCY KEVIN CHEOK AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE TO THE KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA ON THE OCCASION OF SINGAPORE’S 50th NATIONAL DAY
On 9th August 2015, the Republic of Singapore will celebrate its 50th birthday. This is a moment of great pride for all Singaporeans as we reflect on what Singapore has become. When we declared independence in 1965, we were a poor country with high unemployment and inadequate housing. We suffered from labour unrest and communal tensions. We had to quickly establish institutions of statehood, learn how to defend ourselves, and find ways to make a living. The odds seemed daunting. Fortunately, Singapore’s remarkable pioneer generation were a hardy lot. While they understood the challenges, they never despaired. They envisioned a fair, inclusive, cohesive and prosperous country and they worked together to build its foundations. Successive generations of Singaporeans have built on these foundations.
The Singapore of today is a result of all these efforts. But no country succeeds alone. This is why we have always treasured the support of our friends. The Kingdom of Cambodia is one such friend. Cambodia was one of the first countries to recognize Singapore. This was a welcome vote of confidence that we have always appreciated.
Eventually, Cambodia became the fourth country with which we officially established diplomatic relations. In fact, 2015 is not just Singapore’s 50th birthday, but also the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relations with Cambodia.
Today, Singapore and Cambodia continue to enjoy strong and multi-faceted relations. There are frequent high-level exchanges. Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Singapore in March this year to attend the state funeral of our first prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The prime minister will also be attending Singapore’s 50th National Day Parade on 9 August. Singapore’s speaker of parliament, MdmHalimahYacob, visited Cambodia in May to help commemorate 50 years of bilateral ties. Our economic links are substantial. Singapore is one of Cambodia’s key trading partners with about SGD$1.7 billion in total trade. Singapore is also Cambodia’s 10th largest investor in cumulative terms with approved investments over the past two decades totalling $786 million. The Singaporean business community is active in diverse areas including manufacturing, logistics, finance, trading, property development, retail, education, energy, and hospitality. Many Singaporean professionals are also working in the Kingdom.
Our extensive people-to-people ties are deep, aided by 37 weekly flights between Singapore and Cambodia. Both countries also cooperate closely within ASEAN, especially as we work to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015. Building up human resources was a crucial area that Singapore focused on for our economic development. Cambodia is trying to do the same. In this regard, Singapore has been happy to share its development experiences through the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). Under this programme, Singapore continues to provide regular courses for Cambodian officials in diverse areas like public administration, trade, tourism, information technology, civil aviation, health, environment, urban planning and English. These courses are conducted either in the Cambodia-Singapore Training Centre in Phnom Penh, or in Singapore. About 13,000 Cambodian officials have participated in these courses since 1992.
As Singapore celebrates its Golden Jubilee, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Cambodia for its longstanding friendship.
Let me also thank all Cambodians for the warmth that they have bestowed on the Singaporean community in Cambodia. I am confident that our countries will continue to deepen and broaden our relations for the mutual benefit of both our peoples. Let me end by wishing all Cambodians and Singaporeans good health and best wishes on our 50th birthday!