Events

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s Interview with Bloomberg TV at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Capella Singapore, 18 November 2021

BLOOMBERG NEW ECONOMY FORUM: INTERVIEW DR VB ON US-CHINA RELATIONSHIP, TPP & CPTPP

Photo Credit: Bloomberg Television at Bloomberg New Economy Forum

Shery Ahn (Bloomberg TV)Let us discuss a complicated relationship between China and the US, and Singapore’s role in it. We are joined by Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, it is great to have you with us. Thank you so much for having us in Singapore.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan: Great to be with you.


AhnSo let us talk a little bit about the comments that your Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong) has made. How are you on the ground, at the Ministry (of Foreign Affairs), preparing for any contingencies?


Minister: The first point I would make is that the probability of an actual conflict is low. Second point, it is a deep red line – certainly something which everyone needs to be concerned with. The third point is that the real risk is either an accident or a miscalculation, and the more there is engagement, there is talk, there is discussion, and there is hopefully a meeting of minds, I think that lowers the risk considerably. So that is really where we are at this point.       

Ahn: Are you trying to facilitate some of those talks?

Minister: No, it is not for us to facilitate. This is something which China and Taiwan needs to sort out amongst themselves first. 

Ahn: But Singapore is such a good partner to both of them.


Minister: We are long, old, and good friends to both sides across the strait. We really do hope for the best between them, that they can lower the temperature, lower the tensions, lower the risk of miscalculation. That is the only way you are going to get peace in a sustained manner across the strait.


Ahn: How much has the virtual summit between President Biden and (President) Xi helped?    

Minister: I think that was absolutely essential. This is a stage in which both countries’ decision making is localised at the very apex. The more the two leaders talk candidly, sincerely, frankly, the better. It lowers the chance of a miscommunication.

Ahn: Singapore is supporting China’s application to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) regional trade agreement. Where do you think that will go?      

Minister: Take a step back. The spirit behind the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) or the CPTPP is for it to be open (and) inclusive to any economy that meets its very high standards. It is the most ambitious multilateral free trade agreement in the world right now. On that basis, we will have to welcome anyone who meets and aspires, and is able and willing to fulfil its high standards.

Ahn: Is China able to fulfil (the high standards)?

Minister: That is something which will need to be discussed in greater detail. The second point is the process. It requires consensus by all the existing members. So this discussion, this dialogue, and this resolution, even on bilateral issues, if any, amongst all the individual members will need to be sorted out.

Ahn: Are you facilitating those discussions? 

Minister: Next year, as the Chair of the Commission, we will certainly have to facilitate these discussions. You need to understand that Singapore is unique because for us, trade is more than three times our GDP. So this is not just ideology or a negotiating point. For us, free trade is our lifeblood. Anything that promotes that cause is something which we would support, we would welcome.


Ahn: Taiwan applied to the CPTPP as well, just days after Beijing did.

Minister: Yes, not surprising.

Ahn: What is the dynamic there and how do you expect that to play out?


Minister: Again, the same principles apply. Are you willing, are you able to meet these high standards? 

Ahn: Are you backing Taiwan as well? 

Minister: We would welcome their application in the same way we would welcome any economy that is willing and able to meet those high standards. Now, having said that, there are obviously political complications in that respect. Like many of the issues across the strait, you do need resolution, you do need a meeting of minds across the strait between Beijing and Taiwan.         

Ahn: What about a meeting of minds when it comes to Myanmar, because of course the US has talked about Singapore having financial leverage on that point in order to help Myanmar achieve democracy. What can you do?


MinisterThe first point I would make is that what is happening in Myanmar is a tragedy – a real tragedy not just of progress towards democracy, but its impact on ordinary people. The increase in poverty, the pandemic – it is really a terrible shame that this has happened. (The) second point is not to overestimate the impact of external interference. It will not work. From our years of working and engaging the people in Myanmar, we know this is a proud nation that needs to resolve its internal problems internally, without others trying to interfere. Specifically, on Singapore, I think we should not overstate our influence or our ability to affect the cause of events in Myanmar. But the people in Myanmar and both sides across the entire political spectrum in Myanmar know our position. We want peace, we want negotiations, (and) reconciliation. That is the only way you can get the peace and prosperity.

AhnWhat is Singapore doing in order to help achieve that?

MinisterFirst, we are all in ASEAN. We have stated our position clearly. You saw the recent (38thand 39th) ASEAN Summits – the representation or rather the non-representation of Myanmar. But the first point is that Myanmar remains an integral member of ASEAN. We are not ejecting them. Second, we state our position clearly, categorically. No question about that. Third, we are delivering humanitarian assistance because our main concern is the people of Myanmar, the economic, the humanitarian plight and the suffering which they are undergoing.

AhnParliament just passed a foreign interference act. What are the biggest threats for Singapore right now?

MinisterWe live in a world in which hostile information campaigns, (and) influence peddling now has got so many additional tools to turbo charge. So to pretend that it is business as usual, and that there are no current or future threats is not tenable. It is not aimed at any country. But we are preparing defences so that we can ensure that there will be no hostile, surreptitious campaigns launched by external parties or through proxies who clearly are advancing the agenda of external parties. 

AhnIt is not uncommon for local Chinese language media toeing the line for Beijing. Have you seen any indication of that?

MinisterNo, I would not characterise it that way. We are unique. We are the only political entity outside China with a majority of Chinese ancestry, who understand the Chinese language, who respond to cultural cues. That is both a blessing and a burden. But the key point is this – Singapore is not China. We are in the heart of Southeast Asia. But we understand China. We certainly have a role sometimes for communication, for explanation, and even being a convening point for dialogue. That is our unique selling point, our value proposition.  

AhnMinister, it is really great to be here with you face to face and thank you so much for having us in Singapore. 

MinisterThank you for being in Singapore. 

AhnVaccination rates here in Singapore are very high, but the restrictions also have been pretty stringent. What are you expecting in terms of easing some of those restrictions and your outlook for 2022?

MinisterWe have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, I think we are now at about 85 to 86 percent (who have had) two doses. Boosters – 20 percent and rising. The unique thing about what we are trying to do is to get to the level where there is reasonable population immunity, but for this to occur with very, very low mortality rates. That is what we need. Right now, what you are watching in Singapore is that the virus is spreading in a population which is immunologically naïve – that is a big word. Basically, we used to be on “COVID Zero”. We are now transiting into an endemic, coping situation. But the difference is, we are transiting in the presence of very high vaccination rates, and our ambition is to get through this with the lowest mortality rate in the world.

AhnMinister, thank you so much for being here and for having us.

Minister: You are most welcome. 

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Call on President Halimah Yacob by President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, on 17 November 2021

Photo Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore
Photo Caption: Call on President Halimah Yacob by President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian
 

The President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, called on President Halimah Yacob at the Istana today. President Sarkissian is on a visit to Singapore from 15 to 20 November 2021 to attend the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

During the meeting, both sides reaffirmed the warm relations between Singapore and Armenia, which is underpinned by longstanding historical ties. They also noted our common interests as fellow small states, and the scope for us to learn from each other.

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Presentation of Credentials: REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE, REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE & KINGDOM OF BHUTAN

Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of Zimbabwe & Kingdom of Bhutan  presented their credentials to President Halimah Yacob in separate ceremonies via videoconference, conducted at the Istana and the respective offices of the foreign Heads of Mission

ERNEST MBAIMBA NDOMAHINA HIGH COMMISSIONER TO SINGAPORE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE

Mr. Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina is the High Commissioner of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the Republic of Singapore, with residence in Beijing. He is also the Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the People’s Republic of China, since 2018, and is also concurrently accredited to Malaysia; the Republic of India; the Commonwealth of Australia; the Republic of Indonesia; the Republic of Japan; New Zealand; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; the Kingdom of Thailand; and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

High Commissioner Ndomahina previously worked as an accountant and was a businessman. He has also served as Co-Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Co-Chairman of the Fund-Raising Committee of the SLPP, and Leader & Co-Chairman of the Committee during which he oversaw the inauguration of His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

High Commissioner Ndomahina is married and has four children.

SOPHIA NYAMUDEZA AMBASSADOR TO SINGAPORE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE

Ms. Sophia Nyamudeza is the Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the Republic of Singapore, with residence in Jakarta. She is concurrently accredited to the Republic of Indonesia as well as to ASEAN.

Ambassador Nyamudeza joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe in 1988 and has accumulated 33 years of diplomatic experience. She previously served as the Deputy Permanent Representative at the Zimbabwe Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (2006 – 2013) and as the Counsellor at the Zimbabwe Embassy in Rome, Italy (1995 – 2000).

She was also previously Deputy Director in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Policy Research and Communication, as well as Deputy Director of its Africa Department. She was also the Senior Desk Officer in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Multilateral Affairs Department, International Organisations Department and Asia Department.

Ambassador Nyamudeza speaks English and Shona. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Zimbabwe and a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from the UK Open University.

She is a mother of two sons.


KINZANG DORJI AMBASSADOR TO SINGAPORE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN

Mr. Kinzang Dorji is the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the Republic of Singapore, with residence in Bangkok. He is concurrently the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Ambassador Dorji joined the Civil Service in 1993 and has served in various capacities, including in public administration, public finance management, and bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador Dorji served as the Governor of Haa District in Bhutan (2016 – 2021). He served as Minister/Deputy Head of Mission at the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi (2011 – 2015), Head of Multilateral Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009 – 2011), Chief of Planning and Policy Division in the Ministry of Finance (2007 – 2009), and Commissioner of Tax Division in the Ministry of Finance (2000 – 2007).

Ambassador Dorji holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sherubtse College (affiliated to Delhi University) in Bhutan and a Master’s Degree in Economics and Political Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He speaks Dzongkha, English, Nepali, and Hindi.

He is married and has two daughters and two sons.

PM Lee to attend G-20 Leaders’ Summit

PM Lee to attend G-20 Leaders’ Summit

PM Lee Hsien Loong to visit Rome, Italy for the G20 Summit (Oct 2021)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make a working visit from 28 October to 1 November 2021 to attend the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, at the invitation of His Excellency Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, in Italy’s capacity as the 2021 G20 Presidency.

The Italian G20 Presidency’s agenda rests on three main pillars of “People, Planet, Prosperity”, with the focus on ensuring a swift international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, looking beyond the crisis towards a sustainable and inclusive recovery, and securing a firm commitment to protect our climate and environment. Apart from participating in G20 discussions, Prime Minister Lee will have bilateral meetings with Leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the Summit.

Prime Minister Lee will be accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will be the Acting Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s absence as Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean will be on leave and not available to act.

32nd Singapore International Film Festival

32nd Singapore International Film Festival Celebrates the Enduring Joy of Cinema with New Perspectives

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: We’re pleased to share that the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) returns for its 32nd edition this year. Happening from 25 November to 5 December 2021 in theatres-only, SGIFF will be presenting a strong array of over 100 films by film makers from 40 countries that informs, transforms and inspires.

A champion of Southeast Asian independent cinema, this year’s Festival will present a diverse, inclusive range of over 100 films by filmmakers from all over the world. These carefully selected films speak of memories, emotions, inspired conversations and discussions — that together celebrate the rejuvenation and continuity of film and storytelling in the cinematic community. 

Highlights of SGIFF 2021 includes:

  • New film sections join hallmark categories in the 2021 programme as the festival goes back to cinema-only format, curated by recently appointed Programme Director, Thong Kay Wee
  • More than 100 films will be screened across 6 cinemas in Singapore during the 11-day festival, representing works from more than 40 countries with strong representation from Southeast Asia
  • Indonesian filmmaker Edwin’s Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is this year’s opening film
  • SGIFF presents the inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Southeast Asian Cinema Award to Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC)

Download Press Kit and Festival Guide. Please also see attached the opening press release, under embargo until Tuesday, 26 October, 10.30am (GMT+8).

Should you be interested to interview any of SGIFF’s executive team, film directors or producers, or have any media enquiries, please feel free to reach out to us at sgiff@vimandvigourpr.com.  

Presentation of Credentials: Vietnam & Korea

President Halimah Yacob received the credentials of the Ambassadors of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea on 13th July 2021 at the Istana.

H.E. Mai Phuoc Dung Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Singapore

PRIOR to H.E. Mai Phuoc Dung’s appointment as Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Singapore he served as the Director General, Directorate of State Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam. The career diplomat majored in International Relations. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990. He served as the Third Secretary at the Embassy of Vietnam in Italy from 1998 to 2002, and as Vietnam’s Consul General in Sydney, Australia from 2011 to 2014. He is married with a son and a daughter.

(Pictured here): President Halimah Yacob expressed her delight at the comprehensive development of the ties between the two countries in all fields, especially since both sides lift up relations to a strategic partnership in September 2021. She also said that Singaporean investors are keen on expanding investment in Vietnam, especially in areas of Singapore’s strength such as digital transformation, 4.0 technology, green growth and education.

H.E. Choi Hoon Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Singapore
President Halimah Yacob noted that the level of substantive cooperation between the two countries has increased due to high-level exchanges and the Korean government’s New Southern Policy. Ambassador Choi Hoon said he will do his best to promote bilateral relations during his tenure, and expand the horizon for bilateral economic cooperation

PRIOR to Ambassador Choi Hoon posting here he was the Standing Commissioner and Deputy Chairman for International Cooperation at the Republic of Korea (ROK) Financial Services Commission (FSC) from 2019 to 2021.

Ambassador Choi has held various positions in the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) including Director for Financial Hub Cooperation and Securities System Division since he started his career in 1991. He was posted to FSC in 2008, and worked as Director-General of the Banking and Insurance Bureau, Financial Industry Bureau and Financial Policy Bureau from 2016 to 2019. He also served as Director-General of the Greater Tumen Initiative Secretariat of the United Nations Development Programme China from 2011 to 2015, and Senior Assistant Secretary for Economic and Financial Affairs at the Office of the President from 2015 to 2016. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the Sungkyunkwan University, ROK, and a Master Degree in International Banking and Finance from the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2017, he completed his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China.
He is married with one daughter and one son.

Presentation of Credentials: Republics of Croatia, Tunisia and Mauritius

President Halimah Yacob received in separate ceremonies via video conference the credentials of the following Head of Missions of the Republics of Croatia, Tunisia and Mauritius on 12th October 2021.

(From l to r): Excellencies Nebojša Koharović, Riadh Dridi and Santi Bai Hanoomanjee
H.E. NEBOJŠA KOHAROVIĆ Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia

PRIOR to being the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Singapore, Mr Nebojša Koharović served as the Ambassador of Croatia to China from 2013 to 2019, after which he took up post as Ambassador to Jakarta in 2019. He is concurrently accredited to ASEAN, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. The ambassador has over 20 years of experience in the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) of the Republic of Croatia.

He was appointed Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs for Non-European Bilateral Affairs in 2000. He was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Poland from 2003 to 2008, and Ambassador to Russia from 2008 to 2012, before returning to the MVEP as Assistant Minister for Foreign and European Affairs for Bilateral Relations from 2012 to 2013.

Prior to joining the MVEP, Ambassador Koharović worked in the Foreign Trade Department of the Mladost Publishing company from 1988 to 1990, and thereafter as a Scientific Assistant in the Department for Standard Croatian Language at the University of Zagreb (UniZG) from 1990 to 2000. He has an extensive academic career, having authored several dozen scientific and professional papers in Croatian language studies, sociolinguistics, and culturology. He regularly taught at UniZG, and was a visiting lecturer to the MVEP Diplomatic Academy, as well as foreign universities, including ParisSorbonne University in Paris, Columbia University in New York City, and Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 2008, at the end of his term as Ambassador to Poland, and the Medal of Pushkin from the Russian Federation in 2012, similarly at the end of his term in Russia.

Ambassador Koharović holds a Master’s in Philosophy from UniZG, from where he also previously graduated in South Slavic languages. He speaks English, Russian, Italian, Polish, and Bulgarian, with knowledge of French and Czech. He is married with two children.

H.E. RIADH DRIDI Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia

PRIOR to his appointment here, Mr Riadh Dridi was appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the Republic of Indonesia in December 2018, and is concurrently accredited to the Republic of Singapore (resident in Jakarta) and ASEAN. Mr Riadh Dridi is a career diplomat with over 25 years of experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

Ambassador Dridi started his career in the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1996. He served as Secretary in the USA Division of the Directorate General for the Americas and Asia from 1997 to 2001, before being appointed as First Secretary, then Economic Counsellor and Cultural Attaché at the Tunisian Embassy in Washington DC, USA from 2001 to 2006. He returned to the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Head of the Canada Division from 2006 to 2008, after which he was appointed Attaché at the Minister’s Office in charge of American and Asian Affairs from 2008 to 2010. He was appointed Deputy Director at the Directorate General for Europe in 2010, and subsequently Deputy Head of Mission at the Tunisian Embassy in London from 2010 to 2015. Upon his return to Tunis, Ambassador Dridi was appointed Chargé de Mission of the Foreign Minister’s Office and thereafter served as Chief of Staff of the Foreign Minister from 2016 to 2018.

Ambassador Dridi holds a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Law, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis. He is married with two children. He speaks Arabic, French and English fluently.

H.E. SANTI BAI HANOOMANJEE Ambassador of the Republic of Mauritius

PRIOR to Mrs Santi Bai Hanoomanjee accreditation here, she was the High Commissioner of the Republic of Mauritius to India since May 2020 with residence in New Delhi. High Commissioner Hanoomanjee is concurrently accredited to Maldives. She is also High Commissioner-designate to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and Ambassador-designate to Nepal.

High Commissioner Hanoomanjee served for 33 years in the Mauritius Civil Service and retired in 2005 as Permanent Secretary, the highest post in the service. Soon after, she joined active politics and served as Member of the Opposition in the National Assembly for 8 years (2005 – 2010 and 2011 – 2014). She was appointed Minister of Health and Quality of Life in 2010.

Following her tenure as Minister of Health and Quality of Life (2010 – 2011), she became the first woman to be elected as Speaker of the Mauritius National Assembly in 2015; she served in that position till 2019.

In March 2015, she became the first woman to be conferred the rank of the Grand Commander of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (GCSK), Mauritius’ highest distinction of merit, in recognition of her contributions to the public service, political, and social fields. Her other appointments in regional and international organisations include President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) (2015 – 2016), Chairperson, Parliamentary Association of the Indian Ocean Commission (2016 – 2019), and Member of the Standing Committee of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (2018).
She is married and has three daughters.

Presentation of Credentials: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan & Nepal

President Halimah Yacob virtually received the credentials of the Ambassadors of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Nepal on 4th August 2021.

H.E. Faizullah Zaki Ibrahimi Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

AMBASSADOR Faizullah Zaki Ibrahimi was appointed Ambassador-designate of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Republic of Singapore (resident in Jakarta) in August Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Ibrahimi was the Afghan Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled from 2017 to 2019.

Before his ministerial appointment, he was deputy National Security Advisor in the Office of the National Security Council and had served as Senior Presidential Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani. He was also an elected representative to the Afghan Parliament from 2005 to 2010 after a stint in the private sector.

Ambassador Ibrahimi holds a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Kabul University. He is married with four sons and one daughter. He speaks Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Turkish, Russian and English fluently.

H.E. Jalal Sabir Oglu Mirzayev Ambassador of Republic of Azerbaijan

Mr. Jalal Sabir Oglu Mirzayev, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Singapore, is a career diplomat with over 20 years of experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

Mr. Mirzayev joined the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999. He served at the Azerbaijan Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 2001 to 2003, and at the Azerbaijan Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels from 2003 to 2005. He joined the First (Western) Territorial Department of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005, before being appointed as First Secretary at the Azerbaijan Embassy in Malaysia in 2007. He returned to the First (Western) Territorial Department of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009 as Head of Division. Mr. Mirzayev also served as Deputy Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from 2011 to 2015, and later assumed the position of Deputy Head of the Americas Department of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2015. He served as Chargé d’affaires in the Netherlands from September 2017 until his appointment as Ambassador to Indonesia in September 2019. He has also served as Ambassador to ASEAN since 2020.

Mr. Mirzayev holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Baku State University. He is married with three children, and speaks English, French and Russian.

H.E. GANESH PRASAD DHAKAL Ambassador of Nepal

H.E. Ganesh Prasad Dhakal has been Nepal’s Ambassador to Thailand since June 2019, with residence in Bangkok. Ambassador Dhakal is concurrently accredited to Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. He also serves as Nepal’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology.

Ambassador Dhakal is a career diplomat, having joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal in 1996. Prior to his current appointments, Ambassador Dhakal was the Joint Secretary and Head of the Northeast Asia Division at the Ministry’s headquarters from 2016 to 2019. His other appointments at headquarters include Director-General of the Consular Services Department (2015 – 2016); and Joint Secretary and Head of the Central Asia, West Asia and Africa Division (2015).

Ambassador Dhakal’s previous overseas postings were in the Nepalese Embassies to Qatar (2013 – 2015), Berlin (2007 – 2012), and Russia (1999 – 2003).

Ambassador Dhakal holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is married and has two children.

Presentation of Credentials: Estonia, Malaysia & European Union

President Halimah Yacob virtually received the credentials of the Ambassadors of Estonia, Malaysia and European Union on 31st August 2021.

H.E. PRIIT TURK Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia
Ambassador Priit Turk is the first resident Estonian Ambassador to Singapore, following the opening of the Estonian Embassy in February 2021

PRIOR to his accreditation to Singapore, Ambassador Turk served as Counsellor in the External Economic and Development Cooperation Department of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Turk has held several positions at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence, including Deputy Director of International Cooperation and Counsellor for Policy Planning at the Ministry of Defence, as well as Ambassador to Georgia with concurrent accreditation to Armenia, Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Director of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Turk obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and International Relations) from the University of Tartu, Estonia. He has a Master of Science (International Development and Governance) from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, where he was also a Chevening scholar. Ambassador Turk is married with two sons.

H.E. DATO’ DR. AZFAR MOHAMAD MUSTAFAR High Commissioner of Malaysia

PRIOR to his appointment as High Commissioner of Malaysia to the Republic of Singapore Dato’ Dr. Azfar Mohamad Mustafar served as the Ambassador of Malaysia to France. While serving in the Malaysian civil service, Dato’ Dr. Azfar obtained his Ph.D. in Maritime Law from the University of Wales Swansea, United Kingdom, and Master of Science in Maritime Affairs from the World Maritime University, Sweden. Dato’ Dr. Azfar also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from University Malaya, Malaysia, and a Diploma in Public Administration from the National Institute for Public Administration, Malaysia.

Dato’ Dr. Azfar started his civil service career in 1996. He served in the Prime Minister’s Department and Public Service Department before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001. Dato’ Dr. Azfar last served as Director General (Maritime Affairs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2015 to 2018, prior to his appointment as the Ambassador of Malaysia to France from 2018 to 2021. Dato’ Dr. Azfar was conferred the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP) award by the Sultan of Pahang in 2018. He is married to Datin Che Norhayati Soib and blessed with five children.

H.E. IWONA PIÓRKO BERMIG Ambassador of the European Union

PRIOR to her accreditation to Singapore, Ambassador Iwona Piórko Bermig was a Member of the Cabinet of European Commission Executive Vice President for ‘Europe fit for the Digital Age’ Margrethe Vestager.

Ambassador Piórko Bermig has held numerous positions in the European Commission since 2005, including Head of International Affairs at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Member of the Cabinet of then-Vice-President/ High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini; and Member of the Cabinet of then Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle. She holds a Doctorate in Contemporary European Studies from Sussex European Institute, University of Sussex, Brighton; and a Master of Arts degree in Advanced European Studies from College of Europe, Bruges.

Ambassador Piórko Bermig is married with one daughter.

Presentation of Credentials: Lao People’s Democratic Repbluc, Belgium & Saudi Arabia

President Halimah Yacob received in separate ceremonies the credentials of the following Ambassadors of the Republic of Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Ambassadors of the Kingdoms of Belgium and Saudi Arabia on 28th September 2021.

H.E. SENGKEO POUANGPADITH Ambassador of Lao People’s Democratic Republic

PRIOR to his appointment as the Ambassador of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the Republic of Singapore H.E. Sengkeo Pouangpadith, had served as the Director-General of Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Ambassador Sengkeo Pouangpadith joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993. He has accumulated experiences in his diplomatic career in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy over the last 28 years. Throughout the course of his career, he was affiliated with Europe and Americas Department, Economy Affairs Department, International Organisations Department and Protocol Department. He had served as the Attaché and Third Secretary at the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Warsaw, Republic of Poland, from 1998 to 2004, and as the Counsellor at the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Manila, the Republic of the Philippines, from 2009 to 2010.

Ambassador Sengkeo Pouangpadith holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in International Law from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, class of 1992. He speaks English and Russian, and is married with two sons and one daughter.

H.E. COLETTE TAQUET Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium

PRIOR to her accreditation to Singapore, Ambassador Colette Taquet was Director in the General Directorate of European Affairs in the Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs (FPSFA). She had worked on issues such as the reform of legislation on migration and asylum legislation, COVID-19 crisis management, matters related to the security and free movement of people in the European Union, as well as legislation on the fight against online terrorist content, the protection of whistle blowers and recognition of e-evidence.

Ambassador Taquet has held several positions at the Belgian FPSFA, including that as Belgium’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Lebanon, as well as Poland and Lithuania. Ambassador Taquet has a degree in Political Science and a specialisation in International Law from Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels).

She holds the Medal of the Commander of Leopold’s Order (Kingdom of Belgium) and the Medal of Commander of the Order of Merit (Republic of Poland).

H.E. ABDULLAH MOHAMMED ALMADHI Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PRIOR to his accreditation to Singapore, he was Assistant General Director and later General Director at the General Directorate of African Affairs, and Ambassador, General Director at the General Directorate of Inspection and Follow-up and concurrently, Ambassador and General Supervisor of the Internal Audit Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh from 2017 to March 2021.

Ambassador Abdullah AlMadhi, 57, is a career diplomat. A m b a s s a d o r Abdullah AlMadhi joined the Saudi Foreign Service in 1987 as an Attaché and was posted to several countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe in positions such as Second Secretary and Deputy Head of Consular at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Manila from 1993 to 1997, and Second Secretary and Head of Consular Affairs Department at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Doha. He was appointed as First Secretary at the General Directorate of Bilateral Economic Affairs and First Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Representative to General Investment Authority from 1999 to 2002. He held the post of First Secretary and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Prague from 2002 to 2004 and First Secretary and Head of Consular at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Damascus from 2004 to 2008. He held the post of Counsellor at the General Directorate of Bilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry and concurrently held the post of Counsellor at the HRH Foreign Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2013. He was the Saudi Ambassador in Pretoria from 2013 to 2017.

Born on 18 November 1963 in Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Abdullah AlMadhi graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography in 1986 from King Saud University in Riyadh. In 1992, he obtained a Diploma in Diplomatic Studies from Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh.

Presentation of Credentials: Bulgaria, Mozambique & Guatemala

President Halimah Yacob virtually received the credentials of the Head of Missions of the Republics of Bulgaria, Mozambique and Guatemala on 16th September 2021.

H.E. PETAR ANDONOV Ambassador of Republic of Bulgaria

PRIOR to Ambassador Petar Andonov’s posting to Singapore he represented Bulgaria as Ambassador of Indonesia since He is a diplomat with over 20 years of experience in the Bulgarian civil service.

Mr. Andonov began his career as a freelance reporter in 1986, before taking on the role of Editor and subsequently Editorin-Chief with Bulgarian National TV. He also served as the Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from 1991 to 1992, before being appointed as Deputy Director at U.S. Radio Free Europe in 1993.

In 1997, he took on the role of Chief Coordinator of the Council for Economic Development to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria. Mr. Andonov held this position until 1998, when he was appointed as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to Japan and the Philippines (resident in Tokyo).

Mr. Andonov was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, First Degree, H.M. the Emperor of Japan for Mr. Andonov’s contribution to the development of bilateral relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and Japan. Thereafter, Mr. Andonov took on the role of Moderator of current affairs programs and Foreign Policy and Economy Analyst at U.S. Radio Free Europe in 2003. In 2006, he was appointed to a similar role with TV Europe (News and Current Affairs Bulgarian TV Network). Mr. Andonov also served as the Program Director with the Confederation of the Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria from 2010 to 2012, before being appointed as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Republic of Korea.

He held this role from 2012 to 2019 and was awarded the Order for Diplomatic Service Merit 1st Degree of the President of the Republic of Korea in June 2019, for his contribution to the development of bilateral relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Korea. Mr Andonov has also served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Republic of Indonesia since 2019.

Mr. Andonov holds a Master of Economics and Organization of Labor, University for National and World Economy, Bulgaria, and a Master of Business Administration from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.

H.E. BELMIRO JOSÉ MALATE High Commissioner of Mozambique

PRIOR H.E. Belmiro José Malate posting here he has been the Republic of Mozambique’s Ambassador to Indonesia since August 2019, with residence in Jakarta. High Commissioner Malate is concurrently accredited to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and East Timor.

High Commissioner Malate is a career diplomat, having joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique in 1980. Prior to his current appointment, High Commissioner Malate served as Director for Asia and Oceania at the Ministry’s headquarters from 2015 to 2019. His other appointments at headquarters include Director for Multilateral Economic Relations (1999 – 2001) and Head of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Desk (1997 – 1999). High Commissioner Malate’s previous overseas postings were to Japan (2009 – 2015), Botswana (2004 – 2009), Dubai (2001 – 2004), and Malawi (1984 – 1987).

High Commissioner Malate holds a master’s degree in International Political Economy from the University of Warwick, UK. He is married and has two children.

H.E. MAYNOR JACOBO CUYÚN SALGUERO Ambassador of Guatemala

PRIOR to Ambassador Jacobo Cuyún’s posting to Singapore, he has been the Ambassador of Guatemala to the Republic of Indonesia since November 2019 and the Ambassador of Guatemala to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since March 2021. He is a career diplomat. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala in 1980 and has served as the Consul-General of Guatemala in Los Angeles, California, USA, and also as Ambassador of Guatemala to the Republic of Korea, Norway (concurrently accredited to Denmark), and Morocco. He was also the Director-General of Protocol and Diplomatic Ceremony from 2012 to 2014.

He has received many decorations for his diplomatic service including: The Order of “WISSAM AL ALAOUI” with the rank of commander issued by the Kingdom of Morocco (2020); and the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit “GWANGHWA” medal issued by the government of the Republic of Korea (1996). He is married and has two children.

LAUNCH OF ACCELERATING GREEN SERIES

LAUNCH OF ACCELERATING GREEN SERIES

The inaugural e-conference gets enthusiastic response as speakers give a broad range of areas where sustainability issues can be applied

View the Speakers’ Presentations here

ACCELERATING Green, a series on Sustainability organised by IN Diplomacy, supported by the Diplomatic & Consular Corps (DCC) Singapore and sponsored by Olam International, received an enthusiastic response for its inaugural virtual conference on 29th July 2021.

Ms. Nomita Dhar, founder of Sun Media Pte. Ltd the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of IN Diplomacy, in her welcome highlighted the spread of speakers who are keen to share thoughts on the subject of sustainability. They included H.E. George Tumur the Dean of the DCC and Ambassador of Mongolia; Mr. Douglas Foo, the President of the Singapore Manufacturers Federation; the ambassadors/high commissioners of Australia, Chile, South Africa and Uzbekistan as well as the Director of Various Renewable Energy from Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. They were complemented by experts in the private sector who shared their insights in specific areas (see accompanying section on speakers).

In her introduction Ms Nomita said: “Accelerating green is urgent.  Never in history, the answer to a simple question – “How is the weather?” has been as important and critical as it is now. We all have only one Home, this Earth, of which we are all custodians and we are all responsible to preserve it and do everything possible to keep it from deteriorating any further. “

She also added: ” While each one of us can contribute, through collaboration we can Accelerate our Green efforts.  As a media company, we wish to be a catalyst for conversations and collaborations between countries, corporations and communities in our circle of influence, and beyond. 

Programme Highlights
ACCELERATING GREEN was officially launched by H.E. George Tumur, the Dean of the DCC and Ambassador of Mongolia. He also spoke on how important the Sustainability cause is to the country: “I am happy to share that Mongolia is one of the first countries to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals. Six months following the adoption of the SDGs by the global community, the Parliament of Mongolia approved its long-term development strategy (Mongolia’s Sustainable Development Vision 2030).

The Hon. Douglas Foo  is the President of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and vice chairman of Singapore Business Federation and Vice president of Singapore National Employer’s Federation. He is one of Singapore’s three Appointed Representatives at the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

He outlined programmes and measures for Sustainability undertaken by the SMF to meet the business challenges arising  but said this was a necessity in the long term. One of the examples he highlighted: “SMF has incorporated in our operations is the establishment of our Manufacturing Alliance Transformation Office, or MATO for short. MATO is the product of collaboration between the SMF, Enterprise Singapore and other trade associations and chambers, or TACs to come together to drive transformation and innovations in many critical industries of Singapore including the food sector, the precision engineering sector and the electronics sector, to name just a few.”

“In this collaboration, the SMF identifies companies that require assistance to update their technologies and processes and partner with our partnering TACs to recommend solution providers to these companies. These companies can then tap on the available support to implement these solutions, which in turn will increase their output and by extension, increase these companies’ contributions to Singapore’s GDP. This is a circular system but one that has proven to be effective.”

Australian High Commissioner Will Hodgman who is also the former Premier of Tasmania (the state achieved Zero Emission in 2018) said: “Australia is working with Singapore to share expertise and reduce emissions with priority areas in hydrogen, carbon capture, use and storage, renewable energy trade, measurement and verification of emission reporting. The latest development was the joint launch by the Australian and Singapore Prime Ministers this year a $30 million dollar partnership to accelerate the deployment of low emission fuels and technologies and to trial the use of clean hydrogen and ammonia in port operations.”

The other heads of missions also gave highlights of their countries’ progress in the area of Sustainability while experts from the private sectors weighed in with direct insights related to its application in sectors like property development (Ms Esther An of CDL); the soil’s impact on climate change (Dr Christopher Stewart of Olam International); Earth 300 project  – symbol and showcase of research for sustainability solutions (Mr Aaron Olivera of Earth 300) and what can be done to plan and build up safe, equitable  and sustainable cities (Ms Lauren Sorkin of Resilient Cities Network).

Panel 1: Global Sustainability and Eco Wakening in Asia

+ H.E. Will Hodgman
    High Commissioner of Australia 
    Cooperation in Low-Emission Tech & Renewable Energy (Hydrogen & Solar)

+ H.E. Ignacio Concha
    Ambassador of Chile
    Cooperation in Green Hydrogen

+ Chrisnawan Aditnya, S.T.,M.T., 
    Director for Various Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Indonesia
    Renewable Energy Resources

Panel 2: Supply Chain and Sustainable Business

+ H.E. Modise Casalis Mokitlane
    High Commissioner of South Africa
    The Leap Forward WITHOUT Climate Change

+ Dr Christopher Stewart
    Chief Sustainability Officer, Olam International
    Circular Systems in Food Chain

+ Ms Esther An
    Chief Sustainability Officer, CDL
    ESGs & Competitive Advantages of Sustainability

Panel 3: Circular Economy and Thinking Out-of-the-Box

+ H.E. Kakhramon Shakirov
    Ambassador of Uzbekistan
    Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into National and Regional Development Strategies and Programmes

+ Mr Aaron Olivera
    Founder & CEO of EARTH 300
    The Earth 300 Odyssey – Making a Difference

+ Ms Lauren Sorkin
    Executive Director, Resilient Cities Network
    Clean Energy, Climate Change and Conservation Risks and Opportunities



Smart Cities and Cybersecurity Tackled in Middle East Conference

Smart Cities and Cybersecurity Tackled in Middle East Conference

THE National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Middle East Institute, the organisers of the ‘Meeting the Future Together: Opportunities and Challenges for the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East’ virtual conference had Singapore’s Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as one of the key note speakers. He spoke on the topic of The Role of Technology – Building Resilience
through Smart Cities and Cybersecurity.

 Let me begin with a central proposition: COVID-19 has not changed history. But it has exposed the pre-existing defects and has accelerated on-going technological, economic, social and strategic tsunamis sweeping across the world. Let me just briefly offer four points.

Responding to Crisis

Firstly, The world last year demonstrated how digitalisation can enable a more nimble and adaptive response to a crisis. As COVID-19 first emerged, our government engineers quickly developed tools to communicate accurate information to the public, through websites like MaskGoWhere, SupportGoWhere, and FluGoWhere and also messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. Some of these were developed quite literally overnight or within days, with our engineers working around the clock. The ability to provide crucial information from trusted sources made a pivotal difference for the necessary collective response.

We also developed a digital contract tracing tool called TraceTogether, which collects encrypted proximity data using Bluetooth signals. We know that contact tracing is usually a very manual and resource-intensive task but is absolutely critical in battling a pandemic. An efficient contact tracing system can break the chains of transmission by quickly identifying and isolating close contacts of infected persons. TraceTogether has been able to shorten the average time required for contract tracing from 4 days to less than 1.5 days. 

Countries in the Middle East have also rolled out applications to address the COVID-19 challenge in your own sectors. For instance, the UAE’s Virtual Doctor for COVID-19 chatbot service. This is an app that helps users deduce if they are at risk of getting the virus. The Saudi Arabia government has launched a digital health passport in January on the mobile app Tawakkalna [ta-wak-kal-na] to indicate an individual’s vaccination status. I think my friends in the UAE and Saudi Arabia will agree with me that these innovations have only been possible because of the steady investment in the digital foundation before the crisis hit, in terms of building the right digital infrastructure, developing the modern capabilities, and most importantly – nurturing talent.

Supporting Economic Recovery

Secondly, Even as we battle the pandemic, leveraging digitalisation can facilitate a more robust economic recovery post pandemic. We must never waste a crisis. This is obvious in the potential of the digital economies in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East. ASEAN is expected to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030. Our region’s digital economy is expected to grow six-fold: from about 31 billion US dollars in 2015, to almost 200 billion US dollars by 2025. In the Middle East and North Africa, the e-commerce market is expected to double in size to 48.6 billion US dollars by 2022.

Both regions are also blessed with a high youth dividend and we know that the young people are digital natives. They are not just digital consumers, but they will also be digital producers. They can drive progress in diverse fields like fintech, education, healthcare, logistics, as well as big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). And even as we take steps towards economic recovery from the pandemic, we need to intensify our efforts in an inclusive manner to equip all citizens with the right skills, education, and mindsets. This is done in several ways, including by building digital literacy through education; enabling access to devices and services especially for disadvantaged people or for people with disabilities; helping micro, small, and medium enterprises with access and expanding their market reach. In Singapore, we have the Smart Nation Initiative; Saudi Arabia has its National Transformations Plan 2020, and there are many others like Smart Dubai and Qatar’s Smart Programme. These strategies will enable us to emerge out of the crisis both stronger and smarter.

Third, Digitalisation needs a safe, secure, and stable cyberspace. As we all go digital and we find ourselves increasingly dependent on ICT networks, we know that we will also be exposed to increased risks and vulnerabilities. Disinformation and conspiracy theories have spawned info-pandemics. Malicious cyber activities will continue to be a clear and present danger, especially if there were a successful attack on Critical Information Infrastructure. Increasingly, ICT infrastructure pervades almost all aspects of our lives: whether in managing smart grids, traffic, civil aviation, utilities, or even our personal devices. Last year, Singapore launched our Safer Cyberspace Masterplan with the aim of going beyond protecting Critical Information Infrastructure, to providing some basic level of cybersecurity for the public. This will ensure that all our citizens have basic awareness of the types of cyber risks, and the sensible measures that we all need to take to better protect themselves. I know Israel has pursued such efforts for quite some time. For instance, it teaches highschoolers encryption tactics and coding under its Gvahim (va-him) programme.  

Establishing Common Standards

Fourth, at the international level, we need to establish common standards.  There is a need to develop frameworks to promote digital trade across borders. There is an ongoing effort by a group of WTO (World Trade Organisation) members to update global trade rules in order to facilitate this digital trade. Singapore has pursued Digital Economy Agreements with several partners to establish digital trade rules and digital economy collaborations.

In the security sphere, there is a pressing need to build a multilateral, rules-based order in cyberspace. Some good steps have been taken in this direction, to build stronger regional and international frameworks to regulate cybersecurity. For example, the ASEAN Digital Ministers have agreed to establish an ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT information exchange mechanism to foster stronger cooperation among national CERTs. In the Middle East, Oman hosts the ITU-Arab Regional Cybersecurity Center to strengthen regional capacity and to coordinate cybersecurity initiatives in the region. We can build further on this foundation, and even explore inter-regional exchanges of information and best practices, to harden our common defences.

We also need to continue dialogue at the UN to develop international rules and norms for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. Some progress has already been made through the UN Group of Governmental Experts and Open-Ended Working Group on Cybersecurity. Singapore will continue to support these efforts, including through the Group of Friends on e-Governance and Cybersecurity, and the Group of Friends on Digital Technologies. It is in our common interest to ensure that the full range of Members’ views are taken into account, reflecting the international community in all its diversity.

Digital Cooperation, Digital Recovery

My friends, our journey through the COVID-19 pandemic has not been all gloom. We have also seen unprecedented levels of international cooperation in the fight against the virus. For example, China shared the first genome sequences of COVID-19 through the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, or GISAID, and they did so early on, which enabled others including Singapore to quickly develop diagnostic test kits and to begin work on treatments and vaccines. As we look forward now towards re-opening safely in the new year, Singapore has also published a digital health certificate utilising blockchain technology. We call this HealthCert to facilitate cross-border verification of COVID-19 test results and vaccine records for international travellers. Several healthcare providers in the region have already adopted this standard, and we hope to work further with other partners to take this forward.

Conclusion 

Our journey through COVID-19 has shown that complex, multi-stakeholder partnerships can produce significant results when we are united around a common goal. I believe we can build on this momentum to emerge stronger from the crisis, towards a brighter digital future – because our common digital resilience depends on what each of us does, and how well we work together.  

ICN 2020: NILANKA – Breathes New Life into Indonesian BATAK Folk Tale

ICN 2020: NILANKA – Breathes New Life into Indonesian BATAK Folk Tale

CULTURAL PRODUCTION PRESENTS SOCIETAL ISSUES WEAVED IN A CULTURE-INSPIRED MUSICAL

07 January 2020, Singapore – Having brought to the stage ten successful productions since its debut in 2007, ICN Cultural Production proudly presents ICN 2020 – Nilanka: A Musical. Inspired by the journey of self-discovery that many faces, Nilanka clutches topics revolving around identity and conformity.

Nilanka breathes life to a Batak folklore entitled “Dayang Bandir dan Sandean Raja” from Indonesia’s cultural heritage. The story follows six individuals as they struggle to stay true to themselves while facing seemingly unbreakable societal norms. When their intentions are masked by the realities of their actions, can they still defy what is expected to do what is necessary?

Through their musical adaptation of this legend, ICN Cultural Production hopes to send a message to society and open their eyes to the wonders of Indonesian culture. From captivating music to the meticulously crafted costumes and sets inspired by Batak heritage, Nilanka is bound to be an immersive cultural experience and unforgettable entertainment. Producer of Nilanka, Natasya Adistana says, “Our upcoming show highlights the importance of embracing diversity, not only in ethnicity or religion, but also in character and opinion. Through our student-run production, we wish to inspire the audience to strive for a more inclusive and positive community.”

 


 

 

 

ICN 2020 – Nilanka: A Musical will be staged at Drama Centre Theatre, National Library Building on Saturday, 8 February 2020 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets start from $20 and are available at show.icnmusical.com.

Indonesian Folklore and History in Singapore: Nilanka, The Musical (in english)


PINTU & ICN present a retelling the Batak folklore ‘Dayang Bandir and Sandean Raja’, Nilanka chronicles the characters’ intertwined journey in fighting for their own purpose.
The musical showcases the aftermath of a civil war in the late nineteenth century that saw the emergence of various family groups of the Batak tribe in North Sumatra.

 

“PINTU is short for Pelajar Indonesia NTU or Indonesian Student NTU, an organization which consist of Indonesian students currently studying in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Singapore. The membership covers all students pursuing a bachelor’s or post graduate degree. PINTU was established on August 17, 2002″

“ICN Cultural Production is an annual musical theatre production that brings a new perspective on Indonesian folklore and history to the Singapore community”

To book tickets and find out more about the musical/cast go to the event’s main page: https://show.icnmusical.com/#

To view the 2020 Title Release go the ICN musical got to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0a0QYFXHT0

 


Hasea, Played by Michelle Doreen Surja

Arta, Played by Abhirama Radhitya Sant

Drama Centre Theatre
National Library Building Level 3
100 Victoria Street Singapore 188064
Saturday, 8 February 2020
2:30 pm & 7:30 pm

Chile’s Heritage on Tour!

H.E. James Sinclair

Ambassador of Chile to Singapore

cordially invites to

the official opening of the “Chile’s Heritage on Tour” Exhibition

Guest of Honour Ms Grace Fu

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Date: Thursday, 30 May 2019

Time: 18:00 – 20:00 hrs

Venue: Green Pavilion, Botanic Gardens

Dress Code: Business Attire

Please RSVP by Wednesday, 29 May to pa@embassyofchile.org.sg

 

FINNISH FILM FESTIVAL STARTS 11th OCT 2018

FINNISH FILM FESTIVAL STARTS 11th OCT 2018

Fascinating and entertaining insights into Finnish cinema this month when the 2nd Finnish Film Festival starts from 11th to 21st Oct 2018. To see the film programme, video highlights and buy tickets click here.

Legally Blonde – The Musical (ends 27th May 2018)

An interesting watch for high schoolers, law students and those seeking to enjoy a light evening out. “Legally Blonde – The Musical” from New York has a freshness and teenage feel to it.

Maris Fernandes who plays the lead character Elle Woods did justice to her role and the other supporting cast also managed to put up a fun show. The plot centered around how Elle Woods goes to great lengths to win back her boyfriend Warner including following him all the way to Harvard Law School, where her ‘blonde looks’ are seen at odds with the surroundings and other students.

While she is challenged, she is seen creating her space despite her persona looking at odds to the Harvard vibe.

Flurry of colours, great music and dance keeps the audience engaged. It is in Singapore for a short run from 10th – 27th May 2018, it’s an interesting fun watch.
For tickets click here.

Brazilian Food Masterclass Kicks off Hotel Fullerton Promotion

Brazilian Food Masterclass Kicks off Hotel Fullerton Promotion

MRS Rosa Maria Campos Damico, the wife of the Brazilian Ambassador in Singapore, HE Flavio Soares Damico, welcomed Chef Paulo Machado on 5 April 2018 at the Fullerton Hotel where he conducted a MasterClass for several diplomats’ wives. He shared many interesting insights on South American cuisine as well as how to cook some Brazilian dishes: Caldinho de Feijao and Moqueca as well as a the romantically inspired guava-based dessert called Romeu E Julieta.

He was brought to Singapore by the Brazilian Embassy and The Fullerton Hotel to kick off Fullerton’s More Than Just Acai and Churrasco Brazilian food promotion from 9 to 15 April 2018. According to The Fullerton, Brazilian food has been riding the wave as the next big thing and Chef Paulo, who is also the owner of the Brazilian Food Research and member of the Slow Food Movement showed the ladies why his native ingredients are shaking up the cuisine scene.

The wives of the heads of misisons from Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and Ukraine along with members of the media received cooking tips by the articulate chef (he was first trained as a lawyer).

To taste for yourself these new food sensations Fullerton offers dinner buffets at its Town Restaurant before culminating in a superfoods brunch on Sunday, 15 April 2018.

Exclusive Cooking Class
Chef Paulo is also holding an Exclusive Cooking Class at Fullerton’s The Lighthouse Restaurant on Saturday, 14 April 2018 that is inclusive of a three-course lunch (from
11am to 2pm.

For more details on all of the above click here.

For a short video clip message from Chef Paulo Machado click here

DCC News A Fond Farewell to Good Friends and Colleagues

DCC News A Fond Farewell to Good Friends and Colleagues

(From l to r): The Ambassadors and their spouses: His Excellencies Thomas Kupfer (Switzerland), Nguyen Tien Minh (Vietnam), Dean Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz (Poland) and Manuel Gerardo Talavera Espinar (Peru)

Diplomatic and Consular Corps (DCC) bid goobye to Swiss, Peruvian and Vietnamese Ambassadors

A Farewell Dinner was organised by the Diplomatic and Consular Corps (DCC) in Singapore to honour HE Thomas Kupfer, Ambassador of Switzerland, HE Manuel Gerardo Talavera Espinar, Ambassador of the Republic of Peru and HE Nguyen Tien Minh, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on 19th March 2018 at the Fullerton Hotel Ballroom. The DCC’s Dean and Ambassador of Poland, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, paid tributes to the three who will be transfered out to other country assignments as they complete their tours of duty here. Each of the three Ambassadors in turn also paid affectionate tribute to the invaluable help they have received from their wives in discharging their duties here and proferred sincere thanks and appreciation for the friendships they have developed with fellow members of the DCC in Singapore.

To view online or download more photos of the event click here.

    

 

A Happy Easter from Russia

A Happy Easter from Russia

Natalia Tatarinova, the Russian Ambassador’s wife shares some Russian Easter traditions

EASTER is round the corner and as we ready ourselves for a break this coming long weekend, Mrs Natalia Tatarinova, wife of Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Singapore, HE Andrey Tatarinov will have a few more additions to her Easter eggs and postcards collection. She shared how, “In Russia we don’t only hard boil eggs and decorate them in order to exchange with each other on Easter day but we also buy a new decorative egg every year. Most of them are wooden and then hand painted. Some artists take a wooden egg and then weave it over with multi-coloured beads. There are porcelain eggs too!” She also shares some photos of her collection here. Singaporeans were able to get some insights on Easter egg collections last year when there was a Belgium exhibition of Faberge and international eggs at Singapore’s Philatelic Museum.

The Ambassadior’s wife also imparted another tradition related to Easter in Russia: “As for Russian Easter tea, we bake a very rich cake once a year only. The process takes 4 to 5 hours. There are simpler cakes and cookies that can be done quickly. For example, on special occasions we make blini (pancakes) and spread them with jam, whipped cream, boiled condensed milk etc to make a tower. They are very tasty and looks beautiful! One of the photos here shows the Easter cake. We put icing on top and serve with special spread. Two letters written on the cake and postcards – XB – means “Christ resurrected” in Russian. On Easter morning we greet each other with these words. The response from the other person is “Resurrected indeed”. Then we kiss each other three times and exchange eggs.”

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet in Singapore

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet in Singapore

ASEAN Foreign Ministers (from l to r): Saleumxay Kommasith (Lao PDR), Kyaw Tin (Myanmar), Anifah Aman (Malaysia), Alan Peter Cayetano (Philippines), Pham Binh Minh (Viet Nam), Vivian Balakrishnan (Singapore), Don Pramudwinai (Thailand), Erywan Yusof (Brunei Darussalam), Prak Sokhonn (Cambodia), Retno Marsudi (Indonesia), and ASEAN Secretary-GeneralLim Jock Hoi. Photo: Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Briefings and support for long term gains for the region

ASEAN Chair for 2018, Singapore set up the first ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held in February in the island-nation. A press release on the event stated that there were fruitful discussions on ASEAN’s priorities for the year ahead. Singapore also in a brief shared with the gathering of the foreign ministers the initiatives under its Chairmanship theme of ‘Resilience’ and ‘Innovation’. In their turn the Ministers expressed their support for ASEAN to articulate its strategic vision amidst the changing geostrategic environment, while remaining committed to the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the TAC, as well to the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

The Ministers were in agreement on the need for ASEAN Member States to make use of innovation and technology to improve the lives of their people. They also expressed their support for Singapore’s proposal to create an ASEAN Smart Cities Network.

On receiving a briefing from Myanmar on the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, the Ministers expressed their continued support for Myanmar’s humanitarian relief programme in Rakhine State and welcomed the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre)’s ongoing work with the Myanmar Government-led mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons without discrimination. The Minsiters went on to welcome the Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State between Myanmar and Bangladesh signed on 23 November 2017.

During the confabulations at The Retreat the attending foreign ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognised the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.  They were all in accord when reinforcing the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.

Regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the ministers welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean talks, which they were hopeful would create favourable conditions for further dialogue on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula; they also strongly urged the DPRK to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The Foreign Minsiters also reiterated their support for the complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, called for the exercise of self-restraint, and underscored the importance of creating conditions conducive for constructive dialogue to de-escalate tensions.

To read the full statement by the Chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, Singapore, 6 February 2018. click here.

Opening Night of Smash the Glass Film Festival – 1st March

Opening Night of Smash the Glass Film Festival – 1st March

Invitation from the High Commission of Canada:

Opening Night of Smash the Glass Film Festival
March 1 at 7:00 pm

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the High Commission of Canada in Singapore cordially invites you to the Opening Night of the Smash the Glass Film Festival at The Fullerton Hotel, March 1 at 7:00pm. This event includes a reception, screening of the film Driving with Selvi, and a post-screening discussion with Director Elisa Paloschi, and the film’s protagonist – Selvi.

Opening Night Film Synopsis
Driving with Selvi is an inspirational film about South India’s first female taxi driver. Selvi is a child bride in a violent marriage. One day she escapes, and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the ten year journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies all expectations, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.

Along with the Delegation of the European Union to Singapore and the Singapore Committee for UN Women, we are pleased to present the Smash the Glass Film Festival from March 1 – 29, 2018 to showcase and celebrate women’s stories from around the world. Through a series of screenings every Thursday in March, audiences in Singapore will have the chance to view films from Canada, the EU and Singapore that explore themes of empowering women. For more information about the festival, please visit our Facebook page.

We very much hope to see you at the Opening Night of the Smash the Glass Film Festival. As tickets are limited, we would appreciate it if you could RSVP byThursday February 15, 2018 to Paramjit.Kaur@international.gc.ca.

The Peak Inaugural Diplomatic Ball

The Peak Inaugural Diplomatic Ball

THE PEAK celebrated an evening of cross cultural sharing with the attendance of over 80 ambassadors, high commissioners, senior consular personnel and their partners dressed in their national costumes and key corporate business leaders, at the Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore on 18 January 2018.

This event was co-organized and graced by His Excellency Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland of Singapore and Dean of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps Singapore.

Highlight of the event was a Polonaise ceremonial dance that engaged some of the 220 attendees of the night within the ballroom. The ball raised more than $31,000 for MILK (Mainly I Love Kids) Fund.

This inaugural event was presented by Shangri-la Hotel Singapore and made possible by the collaboration with AmericanExpress, Audi and Inter-Parfums Singapore– Montblanc.

Floral centrepieces by JM Floral Creation and Photo Prints by PrintLab.

Coffee Morning Sessions

Coffee Morning Sessions

The wives of Singapore’s diplomatic corps congregated at the home of the Indonesian Ambassador in Singapore for their monthly Coffee Morning sessions. Hosted by Ibu Mahaswi Swajaya wife of Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya, the ladies were treated to a slice of Indonesian cultural life when Ibu Swi taught them some Javanese dance steps and traditional food  on 18th January 2018.

(Photo Credit: Dharma Wanita Persatuan DWP KBRI Singapura Facebook Page)

 

Ambassadors’ Cup 2017

Ambassadors’ Cup 2017

Support for Outreach Programme

In the run up to this year’s 18th Ambassador’s Cup on 11th November 2017 members of Singapore’s diplomatic community came out in full force to participate in a charity drive that featured nice music, good food and drinks as well as an auction of beautiful jewellery and artwork donated by staff, diplomats and artists here. Proceeds went towards supporting the Singapore Sailing Club community outreach programe for youths. The lucky draw was a hit too with music by the Fullerton Hotel’s Post Bar band who also had some help from singers from Chile and Brazil. Click here to view or download more photos of the event.

Foreign Affairs Cup: Fought with Heart & Passion!

Foreign Affairs Cup: Fought with Heart & Passion!

Diplomats and MFA group photo

On the Saturday of 28th October 2017, four diplomatic corp teams showed up each led by: Ambassador Tumur Lkhagvadorj (Mongolia), Ambassador Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz (Poland), Ambassador Nathan Wolf (Mexico) and Ambassador Andy Detaille (Belgium) led what was affectionately called the Kazkastan.

Dean of DCCS and Ambassador of Poland Kosiniak-Kamysz presenting the cup to the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs team.

The Mongolia team was made up of diplomats from: Mongolia, Israel, Timor-Leste, Poland and the USA. The Polish team was made up of diplomats from the Polish and French Embassies while the Mexico-led team had diplomats from all over Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru. The Kazkastan included Kazkastan, Russia and Belgium.

The tournament followed the standard FIFA Futsal rules for a Round Robin game and would be scored on a point percentage. All five teams played against each other once, and in the end the team with the best point percentage would be the winner.

Last year the final game was played between the EU team led by Ambassador Michael Pulch against the team from MFA. This year, MFA came out on top with a total of eight points. We would like to congratulate the Team Captain, Mohamed Firdaus and all his teammates: Mohamed Fazuddin, Joash Chong, Nicholas Zheng, Teo Tze Ern, Edgar Pang, Hafizan Ishak and See Chong.

Second place was a point tie of seven between Mexico and Kazakhstan. The goal differential of 6 in favor and 2 against for Mexico, versus 6 in favor 3 against for Kazakhstan, put Mexico in second place and Kazakhstan in third.

It was a great effort by all those present, a special thank you to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Kosiniak-Kamysz and his PA Jagoda Takahashi for putting this together and making the second edition of the Foreign Affairs Football Cup a reality.  Stay tuned for 2018!

RISING 50 FUN RUN
(10 Dec)

RISING 50 FUN RUN
(10 Dec)

RISING 50 FUN RUN To mark the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations of Indonesia and Singapore, the Indonesian Embassy here with Havelocity is organising the Fun Run with musical performances and food bazaar at the finish line.. All are welcome to register @ S$35 per person. Each successful registration (non-Indonesian) will be awarded a return Ferry Fare Singapore – Batam plus a Massage Package! To register visit: http://risingjubilee.run

ST ANDREWS BALL 2017
(25 Nov)

ST ANDREWS BALL 2017
(25 Nov)

ST ANDREWS BALL 2017 at the Shangrila Singapore celebrates the patron saint of Scotland with a seven-course feast, freeflowing drinks, the Ghurka Pipes and Drums, and dancing until the wee small hours to a live band. It’s black tie, ball gowns and a touch of tartan.
For more info: www.standrewssociety.org.sg or www.facebook.com/singstandrews

TUX FOR TAILS INAUGURAL GALA
(2 Dec)

TUX FOR TAILS INAUGURAL GALA
(2 Dec)

TUX FOR TAILS INAUGURAL GALA is a benefit gala to raise funds for the SPCA which happens to be the only facility offer free healthcare to needy animals. This is limited to basic treatments and a small capacity. Funds raised will go towards its new clinic at Sungei Tengah. Click here for more info.

MAMA WHITE SNAKE
(24 Nov – 16 Dec)

MAMA WHITE SNAKE
(24 Nov – 16 Dec)

A hilarious take on the Chinese classic opera Madam White Snake but in English. It promises to be “full of heart, humour and home truths.” This is also the first time, after 30 years, Singaporean Glen Goei returns to the stage in the title role.Tickets available online at SISTIC.

A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL ART & TEA WORKSHOP
(25 Nov)

A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL ART & TEA WORKSHOP
(25 Nov)

A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL ART & TEA WORKSHOP is a Christmas-themed botanical art and tea workshop held in the garden terrace of the Pollen Restaurant.
For more info: http://christmaswithin.peatix.com/

HIGH TEA AND HIGH HEELS AT ST REGIS
(24 Nov)

HIGH TEA AND HIGH HEELS AT ST REGIS
(24 Nov)

HIGH TEA AND HIGH HEELS AT ST REGIS is organised by Sun Media the publisher of IN Diplomacy among several other titles that include IndoConnect Magazine for the Indonesian diaspora in Singapore. This fashion show combines the design talents of Singapore jeweller Caratell and Indonesian fashion house NES by Helen Dewi Kirana. A portion of the purchases of the fashion items and cost of tickets (S$150 per guest) also go to a charitable cause. Call Irvina at (65) 97917704.

FINTECH 2017
(15 & 16 Nov 2017)

FINTECH 2017
(15 & 16 Nov 2017)

http://www.fintechfestival.sg/

FINTECH 2017 will have its Keynote Address delivered by Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India. He would also deliver the keynote address at the 16TH ASIA PACIFIC SUMMIT on 16 November 2017. The Asia Pacific Summit is an annual meet of global financial institutions being organised by Morgan Stanley. For more information on the Fintech event (on till 17 November 2017) visit:

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