His Excellency, Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you all for joining us this morning for the official opening of the Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Centre (CSCC).
I am delighted to be back in Phnom Penh. It is incredible how six months have just flown by – it just shows you how busy we have been. Cambodia is one of Singapore’s oldest friends. In fact, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk laid very strong foundations for our relations even before Singapore’s independence, and therefore, even before Cambodia’s travails. Today, our countries both enjoy growing trade and investment and people-to-people links, as well as very close cooperation on human resource development.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). It also marks 20 years of Singapore’s technical cooperation with Cambodia under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). We established the Cambodia-Singapore Training Centre in 2002, after ASEAN leaders launched the IAI in 2000 in order to support capacity building in the newer ASEAN member (states), including Cambodia. Since then, we have welcomed more than 10,700 Cambodian government officials to our IAI courses and more than 16,600 have participated in courses under the Singapore Cooperation Programme. I believe there a few alumni members here today and they have just put a human face to these numbers that I have just cited.
In 2018, Singapore pledged to enhance the IAI Training Centres to Singapore Cooperation Centres, or the SCCs. These centres serve as an integrated platform for Singapore to deliver capacity building programmes more holistically.
The CSCC was the first Centre to begin operations in July 2018. It has since conducted 76 runs of IAI training courses covering a wide range of topics, including using innovation and technology to promote food security and safety, increasing digital adoption by Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and healthcare sectors to accelerate business recovery, enhance resilience of public health systems, as well as the sharing of best practices on innovation in public policy and governance. The CSCC brings Singapore entities and ASEAN Dialogue Partners together, including our foreign development assistance agencies in order to provide more relevant and up to date capacity building programmes in Cambodia.
For example, the CSCC partnered with Civil Service College Singapore, Temasek Foundation, and the Cambodian Ministry of Civil Service and the Royal School of Administration to organise a “Leadership Development Programme” for senior Cambodian officials in February 2020. The CSCC is also working with the German Agency for International Cooperation on providing English Language training as part of the “Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development Fellowship Programme” for provincial officials from areas like Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, and Siem Reap. We welcome collaboration opportunities with potential partners to provide more targeted joint-training programmes for Cambodian government agencies.
The last few years have been very challenging for the whole world, and of course for Cambodia and Singapore too. But I am heartened, and I am sure DPM Prak Sokhonn will agree with me that Singapore and Cambodia have come through this crisis together, stronger and even more confident of our mutual support for one another. I recall that when we met here six months ago, we had agreed to expand bilateral cooperation, especially in new areas such as connectivity, infrastructure development, fintech and digital economy. I am here to say that we remain committed to supporting Cambodia.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we look forward to having even more Cambodian officials back in the CSCC in-person for the IAI courses and other CSCC programmes. We also look forward to working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) of the Kingdom of Cambodia to further expand our technical cooperation through the CSCC.
My good friend, DPM Prak Sokhonn. As Cambodia matures, develops and becomes even more advanced – as I was flying in (I noticed) you have a spectacular city – it is so obvious that much has happened here. I would also say that our relations have reached new heights. The reason why we called it cooperation and mutual exchange is because that is exactly what we mean. We learn from you, you learn from us. Together, we are even better and more effective. Thank you again for being here in person. I know that you are going to be very busy for the next three, four days, but you have made time for us today.
Thank you so much, my dear friend.
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