Viet Nam News
Singapore’s National Day is close to the heart of every Singaporean. It is a time when we celebrate our past but at the same time look towards the future. This year’s National Day is also special as it marks the beginning of the next chapter of Singapore’s development, after we commemorated 50 years of independence last year. It is therefore apt that the theme for Singapore’s National Day this year is “Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow”.
This theme would also have been relevant when Singapore became independent in 1965, except that we were literally concerned with what happens “tomorrow”. At that time, few believed that Singapore could survive as a small nation with no natural resources. Against all odds, we managed to prosper. This was possible because we sought to improve ourselves and make ourselves relevant. It was also possible because the Southeast Asia that we live in has been relatively peaceful, stable and prosperous. ASEAN has played an important role in fostering this environment for growth and that is why one of the key goals of Singapore’s foreign policy is to maintain a cohesive, strong and autonomous ASEAN.
Within ASEAN, Việt Nam has been a close and long-standing friend of Singapore. We elevated relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2013. Our leaders visit each other regularly and also meet at multilateral forums. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc twice in the short few months after the leadership change in Việt Nam. Last month, our Senior Minister of State Mrs Josephine Teo made a working visit to Hà Nội and HCM City.
Our economic ties are also excellent. Singapore is the third largest investor in Việt Nam, with a cumulative investment of US$38.1 billion in 1,663 projects across the country. In some cities such as HCM City and Đà Nẵng, Singapore is the largest investor. We are also seeing more Singapore SMEs investing in Việt Nam in recent years. This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Việt Nam-Singapore Industrial Park, or VSIP, which is an iconic project supported by both governments.
Apart from the traditional sectors of real estate and manufacturing, Singapore companies are also looking at newer areas of investments, such as in the high-tech, banking and healthcare sectors. With the many opportunities brought about by Việt Nam’s further integration with the global economy, I am confident that Singapore companies will want to continue investing in Việt Nam.
Apart from our economic links, we also enjoy close people-to-people ties. Many Singaporeans visit Việt Nam, not just to the traditional tourist destinations of Hà Nội and HCM City, but also to other provinces that are off the beaten path. Many Vietnamese also visit Singapore, many of whom are return visitors looking to explore new sights in Singapore. There are also extensive educational exchanges between our countries, such as the scholarships that we give to bright Vietnamese students to further their studies in Singapore, and the training courses that we have provided to some 17,000 Vietnamese officials thus far under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
As we embark on building our Singapore of tomorrow, we are optimistic in large part because of our close co-operation with friends like Việt Nam. We look forward to working closely with our Vietnamese friends to strengthen our co-operation. — VNS