Singapore An update from the
APRIL / MAY 2010
PM Lee Visits Washington and Chicago Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was in the United States from April 12 to 16, visiting Washington DC and Chicago. He was
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accompanied by Mrs Lee, as well as officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Environment Agency.
Nuclear Security Summit On April 12-13, PM Lee attended the Nuclear Security Summit. Convened by President Barack Obama, the Summit was organised with the objective of safeguarding against nuclear terrorism by bolstering international cooperation and improving security for nuclear materials worldwide, and to provide an opportunity to discuss practical ways to identify and disrupt illicit trade in nuclear materials. At the plenary session of the Summit on April 13, PM Lee told the 45 other gathered world leaders that one major aspect of nuclear security was the focus of the conference—reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. “This is not just a low probability, worst case scenario, but a disaster which can realistically happen, sooner or later, unless all countries do their part to secure nuclear material and combat illicit trafficking.” In this regard, PM Lee stressed in particular that the global trading system had to be strengthened to prevent illegal nuclear cargo from slipping through, which would have dire consequences. PM Lee noted that Singapore’s status as a major transshipment hub made it an important player in efforts to curb any shipment of illegal nuclear cargo. In recent years, Singapore had tightened President Obama greets PM Lee at the Nuclear Security Summit
its export control system in line with United Nations regulations, and is also an active participant in multinational efforts to check the proliferation of nuclear materials. PM Lee also talked about the need to boost nuclear safety as a growing number of countries, including those in South-east Asia, are looking to atomic power as a cleaner way to meet their energy needs. “Even Singapore is studying the possibility of nuclear energy despite our severe constraints,” he said, and also added that ASEAN members had begun discussions on a regional nuclear safety regime, given that the complex safety and security concerns involved may overlap national boundaries. PM Lee also asserted that Singapore strongly supported the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts to set tough global norms and rules for nuclear energy. In September, Singapore will serve on the IAEA’s board of governors for the third time. “We are neither a nuclear power nor are we experts in this issue, but we will play a constructive role to help strengthen the nuclear safety regime, in our own interests,” he added. Giving his impressions of the summit to Singapore media, he said President Obama deserved credit for bringing the Continued on next page ➤
PM Lee Visits Washington and Chicago continued from page 1 Singapore Press Holdings
issue of nuclear terrorism to global attention, and bringing world leaders together to discuss what could be done to mitigate the risks.
Other Washington Events
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While in Washington, PM Lee also met several top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. During their meeting, PM Lee and Secretary Clinton discussed how the U.S. could further engage ASEAN and Asia, and also exchanged views on issues related to the Nuclear Security Summit as well as recent regional developments. PM Lee and Mr Bernanke discussed the
PM Lee meets Secretary Clinton at the sidelines of the Summit
state of the U.S. economy and the health of the global financial system when they met. PM Lee also attended a tea session at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While in Washington, PM Lee was also interviewed by veteran journalist Charlie Rose on his programme on a wide
Left: PM Lee meets Singaporeans in Chicago
range of topics, including U.S.Asia engagement and regional political developments.
In Chicago On April 15, PM Lee delivered a keynote speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, during which he sketched a broad picture of Asia’s emergence from the economic crisis—as seen from Singapore’s perspective—and outlined what he considered to be the top concerns of regional countries going ahead. PM Lee said that Asian countries are emerging strongly from the downturn and are pressing ahead with economic restructuring that has been
Below: PM Lee and Mrs Lee meet Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago
under way in recent years. In particular, for Singapore, credit had to be given to many of the measures taken to overcome the global recession, including the unprecedented step of tapping into Singapore’s foreign reserves in order to fund a major fiscal stimulus package to save companies and jobs. PM Lee also noted that the U.S. will be a key partner for many Asian countries in this transformation—given its market, vitality and culture of innovation and encouraged the U.S. to continue seeking an active trade agenda with Asia. While he was in Chicago, PM Lee also had meetings with Mayor Richard Daley and University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer. PM Lee was also interviewed on the Chicago Tonight program on Chicago’s premier PBS station WTTW11, during which he answered questions about Singapore’s governance issues as well as his personal links with the U.S., amongst other issues. PM Lee also met about 150 Singaporeans based in Chicago and the Midwest region at a lunch reception.
Transcripts of speeches and interviews referenced in this article can be accessed via http://www.pmo. gov.sg/news/speeches
Dr Goh Keng Swee
(1918 - 2010)
Dr Goh Keng Swee, former Deputy Prime Minister and one of the founding fathers of Singapore, passed away on May 14 at the age of 91.
the conventional wisdom then that poor countries could achieve economic development only through import substitution and protecting their own markets. Dr Goh also helped create the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the de facto central bank, where he laid out the policies that produced a stable Singapore dollar. One example was the setting up of a currency board system instead of just getting the central bank to issue currency, as a signal that governments cannot “spend their way to prosperity”. Dr Goh was also responsible for preserving the purchasing power of Singaporeans through setting up Central Provident Fund savings, as well as establishing the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation to invest excess reserves instead of having them held in cash by the MAS. At the time, it was unprecedented for a non-commodity-based economy to have such a sovereign wealth fund. When Singapore became independent in 1965, Goh also assumed responsibilities for strengthening Singapore’s security capabilities, taking up the task of building the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from scratch. A key policy was the creation of National Service, a mandatory conscription system for able-bodied young men.
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In a public eulogy just before Dr Goh’s state funeral on May 23, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described him as a “giant” in Singapore’s short history—a man who helped “turn the tide for Singapore and create a successful nation against the odds.” “Dr Goh was one of our nation’s founding fathers. In our formative years, he dealt with the most pressing problems of the day. But more importantly, he introduced sweeping initiatives that set the basis for the country’s long-term prosperity and security. Without him, much of today’s Singapore would not exist.” As the first Finance Minister when Singapore attained self-government from the British in 1959, Dr Goh assumed the initial stewardship of Singapore’s burgeoning economy. One of his key legacies was to instil fiscally prudent measures which turned a substantial budget deficit into a surplus within the first year, and set the tone for the Singapore Government’s approach to budget management ever since. In the early years, Dr Goh also embarked a strategy which has since formed the cornerstone of Singapore’s economic development—rapid industrialisation and attracting investments from multinational companies. This was despite
Dr Goh went on to serve a total of 12 years in the portfolio, and left his greatest imprint in policies that ensured that the SAF had commanders and staff officers with the leadership qualities, intellectual abilities and professional competence and commitment to build and operate a modern, hightech defence force. Dr Goh also served two terms as Education Minister, introducing major reforms with an approach that was systematic, analytical and results-oriented. “Today, nearly every student completes secondary education, masters both English and a mother tongue and attains standards of mathematics and science that are among the highest in any country,” PM Lee remarked, of Dr Goh’s contributions to Singapore’s educational standards. Dr Goh was also responsible for projects that sought to improve Singaporeans’ cultural and leisure life, amongst them the Jurong Bird Park, the Singapore
Zoological Gardens, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Sentosa Island, the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. Dr Goh was first appointed Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) of Singapore in 1973. In 1980 he was redesignated First DPM and also served as Chairman of the MAS until he stepped down from Parliament in 1984. In 1985 Dr Goh was awarded the Darjah Utama Temasek (Order of Temasek), First Class, Singapore’s highest civilian honour. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew eulogised: “Of all my Cabinet colleagues, it was Goh Keng Swee who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore. He had a capacious mind and a strong character. His robust approach to problems encouraged me to press on against seemingly impossible odds. As a result, we reached better decisions for Singapore. With his passing, we have lost a remarkable and outstanding son.”
Gearing Up for the Inaugural Youth Olympics YOG will be an event of the highest international sporting standards and participating athletes will have a conducive environment to achieve their best performances and also have an enriching experience in Singapore.” International Olympic Committee(IOC) president Jacques Rogge added: “The tireless and enthusiastic way in which the local organisers have taken the vision of the IOC and made it a reality is as inspirational to us as it is immensely appreciated. I am confident that this will be a successful and memorable Games that will leave a positive legacy for Singapore and most importantly, for the youths of the world.”
Culture and Education Programme Sporting history will also be made when, for the first time ever, a foremost international sporting event will have equal emphasis on both Sport as well as Culture and Education. All the YOG athletes as well
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In less than three months’ time, the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) takes centre-stage in Singapore. From August 14 to 26, the YOG will host some 5,000 athletes and officials from 205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), along with an estimated 1,200 media representatives, 20,000 local and international volunteers and more than 500,000 spectators. Singapore, which began its quest in 2007 amid strong international competition to host YOG, has been gearing up to welcome the youth athletes from all over the world. Organisers and volunteers are busy putting the finishing touches to the various aspects of the games preparations. The Youth Olympic Village, which will house the athletes, and all venues and facilities are at the final stages of development and are expected to be ready by July. Mr Goh Kee Nguan, CEO of the Games Organising Committee, said: “Our priority is ensuring that the inaugural
Goh Wei Ning (left), was Singapore’s best track and field performer in the Asian Zone Qualification for the YOG, held in Singapore on 23 May 2010
as Singapore youths would have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities outside of the actual Games. These are aimed at enriching their skills and creative expression, developing their appreciation and experience of Olympic values, and inculcating respect for the diversity of people, cultures and the natural environment as well as the importance of healthy living and social responsibility.
One of the programmes, Friends@YOG, is a twinning programme where all Singapore schools will be paired up with two schools from each of the 205 NOCs. During the Games, Singapore students will also be at the Youth Olympic Village to interact with the athletes and present their interpretations of the twinned counterparts’ culture and heritage.
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The interior view of the Toa Payoh Sports Hall, which will host the volleyball and weightlifting events of the YOG
Marking the 99 Day Milestone May 9 marked the 99-day mark to the opening of the YOG. Many celebrations were organised to commemorate this milestone.
Photo courtesy of the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee
Above: Student dancers from Bukit View Secondary School performing an item to commemorate the 26 YOG sports for the 99-day countdown celebrations Left: A teenage parkour performer wowing the crowd as part of celebrations to mark the 99-day countdown to the YOG
Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame Singapore Press Holdings
YOG Theme Song Launched
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The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song Everyone combines the musical talents of five top singers— Jamaican-American Sean Kingston, 2007 South Africa Idol winner Jody
Williams, British singer-songwriter Steve Appleton, Jessica Mauboy of Australia and 2009 Singapore Idol second runnerup Tabitha Nauser—to create a global anthem for today’s youth. The song was written by
Singaporean record producer and composer Ken Lim, and premiered worldwide on May 31. The video features the five singers performing at various Singapore landmarks. Combined with clips of aspiring young athletes, the video celebrates the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect. All five singers will reunite in Singapore to perform the song “live” on August 14 at the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
Head of Hype Records Ken Lim (third from left) with the five singers chosen to perform Everyone, the theme song of the YOG
The Olympic flame for the first YOG will be lit in Greece in July and journey to Berlin (Germany), Dakar (Senegal), Mexico City (Mexico), Auckland (New Zealand) and Seoul (the Republic of Korea); making its way through all five Olympic continents before arriving in Singapore. At each city, the Youth Olympic Flame will be welcomed in a city celebration focused on youth and the power of the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, to make the world a better place. Athletes and youths in these continents will be invited to witness the lighting of the cauldron and join in the city celebration. Visit http://www.singapore2010.sg/ to find out much more about the Youth Olympic Games
Business Briefs Singapore’s Economy Scores 15.5 Percent Growth from Last Year Singapore’s economic growth has surged by 15.5 percent from a year ago. When compared with the previous year, the figure is even higher, at 38.6 percent. Announcing this on May 20, the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) noted that the American economy’s continuing resurgence, the likelihood of ongoing growth in Asia, and the ramping up of global electronics demand were all key factors which boosted the Republic’s economy. However, the ongoing debt crisis in Europe – Singapore’s largest export market – plus a spike in Asian asset prices have led the MTI to decide against hiking its current full-year forecast of 7 to 9 percent growth, according to the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ravi Menon. On the other hand, as the rest of
the world (outside Europe) continues to rebound from the downturn, MTI has projected that total trade would grow 14 to 16 percent – with exports expanding by 15 to 17 percent.
HP Setting Up R&D Lab in Singapore American tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) is setting up a research and development laboratory in Singapore to work on its new generation of Webenabled inkjet printers. The Inkjet Web Solutions Global Design Centre – HP’s only such facility outside the United States – will have upwards of 50 researchers in January 2011, when it opens its doors at a yetto-be-determined location. Unlike traditional models that print documents sent from computers, HP’s Web printers can be connected directly to the Internet, allowing users to download pictures from the Web, put together customised magazines or newspa-
pers, and then print them. HP’s executive vice-president for its imaging and printing group, Mr Vyomesh Joshi, said the researchers at the Centre will focus on improving the navigation and design of the printers, which had been launched late last year.
Singapore Banking System Among Top 4 in World Singapore’s banking system has emerged from the global financial crisis as one of the Top 4 in the world along with Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, according to ratings agency Moody’s. Singapore banks were found to be more resilient than many global banks throughout the crisis, with limited damage to their asset quality, adequate earnings, and very liquid and well-capitalised balance sheets. “Their asset quality and earnings were far less affected this time than during the Asian crisis because the corporate sector had entered the recession
with a stronger financial position,” remarked Moody’s vice-president and senior analyst Christine Kuo.
Non-oil Domestic Export Growth at Fastest Pace in Four Years Singapore non-oil domestic exports (NODX) have grown at their fastest pace in over four years, on the back of a resurgence in the electronics sector, placing them close to pre-recession levels. The value of total NODX in March was S$15 billion (about US$10.7 billion), the highest level since January 2008. Shipments had surged 26.6 percent in March from last year, while exports of tech products also grew a record 39.4 percent last month from a year earlier. They are now worth a total of S$5.6 billion (about US$4 billion).
Photo by Craig Ruttle
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Dance Your Way to Singapore
Visit http://www.YourSingapore.com/dancetosingapore to watch the videos of the dances at Times Square.
People soaking in the atmosphere at the opening of The Helix
Marina Bay Bridges Open Two landmark bridges spanning Marina Bay were opened on April 24 by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, to a crowd of 2,000 people and fireworks. The Helix, at 280m (about 920 feet) long, is a spiral-shaped pedestrian bridge while the Bayfront Bridge, spanning 303m (about 995 feet), is the parallel bridge for vehicles. The Helix itself arches 8.8m (about 29 feet) above Marina Bay, giving enough clearance under it for pleasure craft to enter the Bay. It is of particular architectural interest as it is of a double helix shape, made of special duplex stainless steel. At the western end of both bridges resides a string of new attractions—the just-opened Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, the Marina Bay Financial Centre, and the upcoming Fullerton Bay Hotel and Customs House, a nightspot complex amongst others. On the eastern side, the new Youth Olympic Park which also opened at the same time features 27 pieces of art by local youths, depicting life’s aspirations, to be introduced in July. Just a stone’s throw away is the two-year-old Singapore Flyer, the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world, which was recently featured in an episode of the popular U.S reality series The Amazing Race, when a team had to climb from one capsule to another at the top of the ride. Said Minister Mah: “Marina Bay should be the people’s bay, and The Helix the people’s bridge—a place where people from all walks of life can enjoy and feel at home... We want Marina Bay to be a vibrant destination for all Singaporeans,” he noted.
The new tourism brand identity for Singapore, “Your Singapore”, was launched in funky style at New York City’s Times Square on April 1. Mr Matt Harding—an American video game designer and internet celebrity known as “Dancing Matt” for his viral videos that show him dancing in front of landmarks and street scenes in various international locations—led dances with passers-by who were encouraged to perform their own personalised dance moves. This was all captured on video, which were uploaded to YouTube. The top 20 most viewed videos were put on the new Singapore tourism portal, YourSingapore.com for voting, and the person featured in the video which garnered the most voters, as well as one lucky voter, won an all-expenses-paid holiday for two to Singapore. The United States is one of Singapore’s top 10 markets in terms of visitor arrivals and generating tourism receipts. The new campaign for “Your Singapore”, which replaces the “Uniquely Singapore” brand, aims to leverage strongly social media and viral marketing to make Singapore a prime destination for Web-savvy tourists. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, “YourSingapore” is underpinned by Singapore’s strengths as a destination—that its concentration of offerings is so accessible and user-friendly, empowering travellers to easily personalise their own Singapore experience according to what they like, how and when they like it.
Hundreds of people danced enthusiastically at New York City’s Times Square in support of the new tourism brand identity for Singapore, “Your Singapore”. The dancing was led by “Dancing Matt”—an American video game designer and internet celebrity known for his viral videos that show him dancing in front of landmarks and street scenes in various international locations.
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APRIL / MAY 2010
Spring Cocktail Party for St John’s Community Services
Photo by Kea Taylor
On May 4, the Singapore Embassy was the venue for a Spring Cocktail Party hosted by the St John’s Community Services, to support its mission of providing needed education, housing and
services to children and adults with development disabilities in Washington, DC. About 200 guests enjoyed a balmy evening of mingling amidst bites of Asian cuisine as well a costume and textile display that reflects Singapore’s historic Chinese, Malay and Indian cultural influences. Both Ambassador Chan Heng Chee and President Terrell McDermid made remarks at the event. St John’s Community Services was founded in 1868 as the oldest charity for children, but has since developed many more expanded programs for all age groups. They include early intervention programs for infants and toddlers, school programs for children with autism and related disabilities and community participation and living programs for adults.
Ambassador Chan with Terrell McDermid, President of St John's Community Services