Edited Transcript of Remarks by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Donation Ceremony of the Mapuche Sculptures to Singapore on 10 September 2019 at 1610 hours, Gardens by the Bay

10 September 2019

Ambassador James Sinclair, who incidentally is also the Dean of our Diplomatic Corps;
Commander of the Esmeralda Captain Claudio Maldonado
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am deeply honoured to be here on this occasion to unveil these two very special sculptures donated by Chile. And of course, I have to pay tribute to the generosity, the hard work and the energy, especially of Ambassador Sinclair.  I think without your special efforts, we would not be celebrating this special occasion today.  So thank you very much for making this possible.
Chile and Singapore are separated by the vast Pacific Ocean.  Felix [Gardens by the Bay CEO Felix Loh] mentioned that that was the longest flight he had ever taken, but maybe I should put you on the ship, the Esmeralda, and then you will realise how far apart geographically we are!  But despite this geographic distance, despite the differences in language and culture, the fact remains that Chile and Singapore are very close, consistent and reliable partners.  This is a partnership that has extended for over 40 years of not only our diplomatic relations, but also the Ambassadors that Ambassador Sinclair had mentioned.  If you go back to the 1920s, we already had Consuls of Chile who resided here.  I think Ambassador Sinclair referred to the Nobel Prize Laureate Pablo Neruda, who was Chile’s Consul General in Singapore in the early 1930s.  So, you [Sinclair] are following the long and proud tradition.
Singapore and Chile were also the founders of FEALAC or the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation.  Another perhaps lesser known fact is that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) began with Singapore and Chile, and two other small countries, New Zealand and Brunei.  I think what this proves is that even small countries, working together, do have agency, can make a difference, and can make an impact on the global stage.
2019 marks our 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations.  As I said before, this has been a long, productive and good relationship.  It is very interesting that we are about to unveil these two special Mapuche sculptures; and to do so in the midst of the Gardens by the Bay, surrounded by Chilean wine palms.  We are in the tropics – we are used to coconut trees and other palms – but look at these magnificent palms and their size.  We have to continue to treasure our natural heritage and especially look after the treasures that our friends have with us, on trust.
So, thank you once again, thank you all for being part of this very special event today.  Thank you and have a wonderful evening.
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Unveiling of Sculptures by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, CEO of Gardens by the Bay Mr Felix Loh and Chilean Ambassador of the Republic of Chile to the Republic of Singapore HE James Sinclair

Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan with Chilean Ambassador James Sinclair, Representatives of Gardens by the Bay and Commander of the Esmeralda Captain Claudio Maldonado. The Esmeralda is in Singapore from 10 to 14 September 2019.

Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Chemamüll sculptures in the tradition of the Chilean Mapuche indigenous community as sculpted by Chilean painter and sculptor Eugenio Salas

Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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