|Bright future: Fireworks brighten up Marina Bay, Singapore. — Photo Andrew Tan
To mark Singapore's National Day today, the country's Ambassador to Viet Nam Ng Teck Hean, wrote to Viet Nam News, on the relationship between the two countries
Singapore's National Day is a date close to the hearts of many. On this special day, Singaporeans remember the hard work and contributions of the previous generations, and celebrate their survival and progress against all odds.
As a small country with a land area of 700sq.km and a population of 5.3 million, our vulnerabilities are never far from our minds. We are mindful that our survival depends on a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Southeast Asia.
Singapore has thus been working closely with other ASEAN countries to promote a stronger regional identity and greater co-operation as we work towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.
We also know that Singapore's continued success depends on friends and partners we can count on.
Viet Nam is one such close friend and partner. Last September, as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, our two countries elevated bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to Viet Nam.
This was a milestone for Singapore-Viet Nam relations. It was also a commitment by our two countries to continue working together bilaterally, as well as regionally, in a wide range of areas such as education, training, finance, and defence.
I am pleased to note that relations between Singapore and Viet Nam continue to grow in strength. We have stepped up the tempo of high-level bilateral exchanges. A number of senior Vietnamese leaders have visited Singapore on study visits and participated in various programmes, including the S.R.Nathan Fellowship and the Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellowship.
Following the visit by Prime Minister Lee in September last year, a number of Singapore Ministers also visited Viet Nam. Mr Goh Chok Tong, Emeritus Senior Minister, will be visiting Viet Nam next month at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
These high-level visits build on the broader base of interactions and mutual understanding between our countries. Our people-to-people ties have strengthened due to increased interactions between our students. We are also pleased to have assisted with the human resource development and training of more than 14,000 Vietnamese Government and Party officials through the Singapore Co-operation Programme.
Our economic ties are excellent. Singapore remains one of the top three foreign investors in Viet Nam with a cumulative investment of US$30.5 billion and two-way trade amounting to $13.1 billion. Singapore investors recognise Viet Nam's economic potential and have a keen interest to be part of its success story.
Singaporean companies, such as Sembcorp, CapitaLand, Keppel Land and Mapletree, have been operating in Viet Nam for many years, and continue to create jobs for Vietnamese people while helping the country shape its urban and industrial landscapes.
In particular, the Viet Nam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) in Binh Duong, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, and Quang Ngai are iconic flagship projects endorsed by both governments.
The Vietnamese Government's commitment to create a conducive environment for foreign investment, coupled with VSIP's strong brand name, has enabled the successful operations of foreign firms in these industrial parks, to the economic benefit of both Singapore and Viet Nam.
There are now five VSIPs across Viet Nam with more than 140,000 jobs created. This was why we expressed serious concern over the actions of some protestors at VSIPs I and II in Binh Duong in May.
We welcome recent assurances from the Vietnamese Government that it will provide a safe and stable investment climate for Singaporean and other foreign investors, and that it will implement policies that create the best conditions for them to operate in Viet Nam.
As a key investor in Viet Nam and a Strategic Partner, Singapore remains committed to working with Viet Nam to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various sectors, further enhance people-to-people ties, and to work towards the realisation of the ASEAN Community.
As we celebrate Singapore's independence, we would like to thank Viet Nam for its friendship, and look forward to many years of strong co-operation and partnership. — VNS