Dear readers of The Phnom Penh Post,
As Singapore celebrates 53 years of nationhood, we also acknowledge and honour the friendship and support of our regional and international partners and friends, without whom the Singapore Story could not have been written.
In particular, Singapore has benefited from the peace and stability that ASEAN has provided to its member states and the broader region.
As a firm believer in ASEAN, 2018 is of special significance as it is not only our chairmanship of ASEAN, but it also marks the first of the next 50 years of ASEAN’s journey.
Through the themes of Resilience and Innovation, Singapore as ASEAN Chair 2018 has worked closely with ASEAN Member States (AMS) and Dialogue Partners to embark on projects that will deepen innovative cooperation and strengthen our collective resilience to common trans-boundary threats and challenges.
One key initiative is the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), which will see AMS and Dialogue Partners cooperate closely to mitigate the disruptive nature of new technologies, while leveraging on smart innovation to transform how our cities and peoples deal with future challenges. (See story on the right for more information on the ASCN and Cambodia.)
Singapore-Cambodia Bilateral Relations
On the bilateral front, Cambodia is a longstanding friend and one of the first countries to recognize Singapore’s independence in 1965. Bilateral relations are characterised by a regular exchange of visits at the political, official, business and social fronts.
Over the past year, Singapore’s Foreign Minister HE Dr Vivian Balakrishnan made his introductory visit to Cambodia in October 2017, while then-Communications and Information Minister HE Dr Yaacob Ibrahim visited Siem Reap in November/December 2017 to attend the 17th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting. From Cambodia, we welcomed Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen to Singapore for the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018.
We also welcomed two Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellows to Singapore – then-Deputy Chief of Joint Staff and Deputy Commander of Army HE Hun Manet (June 2018) and Member of National Assembly HE Hun Many (January 2018). Earlier this week, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation HE Prak Sokhonn and Minister of Education HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron attended ASEAN events in Singapore. We look forward to welcoming Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen for the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in November 2018, and hosting HE Prak Sokhonn soon for his introductory visit.
We continue to see a growing number of Singapore businesses and delegations visit Cambodia to explore collaborative and mutually beneficial opportunities with local and foreign partners, which have culminated in a number of successful tie-ups.
This is a strong testament to their continued confidence in Cambodia’s economic potential and future, and the peace and stability narrative in the Kingdom. On the social front, numerous outreach groups ranging from doctors and students to NGO volunteers continue to increase their community engagement footprint in Cambodia.
Our economic links are robust and growing. Singapore is one of Cambodia’s top 5 trading partners with over US$3 billion in total trade in 2017. More Singapore companies have established their presence in Cambodia. This propelled Singapore to become Cambodia’s second largest foreign investor in 2017 with over US$250 million in approved fixed-asset investments. Overall, Singapore’s cumulative fixed-asset investments in Cambodia reached US$1.2 billion as of end-2017.
Singapore Cooperation Programme
Singapore also works closely with the Cambodian government on capacity building programmes and sharing of development experiences.
This is done chiefly through the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) since 1992. Regular courses and workshops include inter alia public administration, economic development, trade facilitation, disaster management, aviation safety, project proposal writing and English language.
To date, over 8,500 Cambodian officials have participated in courses at the Cambodia-Singapore Training Centre (CSTC) in Phnom Penh, bringing the total number of officials trained under the SCP to over 13,500.
We will be exploring stepping up sharing of our development experience through the upgrading of our CSTC into the new Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Centre (CSCC). The CSCC will look into expanding our range of technical assistance to Cambodia and offer new modalities for capacity building that go beyond classroom teaching. Singapore hopes to share our experiences and at the same time learn from Cambodia’s experiences as well.
On this joyous occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cambodia and its people for the longstanding and warm friendship shown to Singapore. I wish all Cambodians, Singaporeans, and friends of Singapore good health, success and prosperity!