24 Oct 2019
REMARKS BY SINGAPORE HIGH COMMISSIONER CHUA THAI-KEONG, ACTING DEAN OF THE ASIA GROUP AND CHAIR OF THE ASEAN PRETORIA COMMITTEE, ON THE OCCASION OF A RECEPTION AT THE ETHIOPIAN EMBASSY TO CELEBRATE THE AWARD OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE TO H.E. DR. ABIY AHMED ALI, PRIME MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBIC OF ETHIOPIA, 22 OCTOBER 2019
H.E. Ambassador Dr. Shiferaw, Ambassador E. & P. of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
The Representative of the South African Government, Ambassador Mbulelo Bungane,
H.E. Ambassador Bene M’Poko, Ambassador E. & P. of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Excellencies and Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Thank you my brother Ambassador Shiferaw for asking me to say a few words. It is a great privilege for me to do so as Singapore High Commissioner, for Singapore and Ethiopia enjoy very close and warm relations. It is an honour for me as Acting Dean of the Asia Group and Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Pretoria to share a few thoughts on this happy occasion. First of all, I would like to join our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in congratulating their Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali for the high honour of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019. Please accept our warmest congratulations.
2. It is remarkable that Nobel Laureate Dr Abiy Ahmed had been in office as Prime Minister for only 18 months and achieved so much for Ethiopia and the region. As you may recall, he came into office at a difficult time. It was not business as usual. He had to perform or perish. By all accounts, he had to undertake enormous personal risks, including putting his life on the line, to change Ethiopia’s trajectory. He showed great courage in overcoming vested interests and old thinking. More importantly, he showed great vision, one of peace within the country and peace with one’s neighbours by extending the olive branch. Most important of all, he is exercising leadership to get his people, the country and the region to accept change, make sacrifices and adopt a new modus vivendi. It is therefore no surprise that the announcement of Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient was warmly welcomed everywhere, including in ASEAN and Asia.
3. Whatever your view of the Nobel Peace Prize, and there are many views in Asia and around the world, there is no question that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had brought honour to the Nobel Peace Prize just as much as the Prize was meant to honour him. Few men or women have transcended their circumstances of conflict to bring about peace. Most are content or resigned to be victims of their circumstances, if not agents of status quo. It takes an extraordinary person to risk everything for peace. As all of us know, without peace, there can be no development. And in Asia we like to emphasize that without development, there can be no lasting peace. If the Nobel Peace Prize helps create breathing space and buy time for development, it will strengthen peace in the region and on the African continent.
4. In closing, let me also congratulate the Norwegian Nobel Committee for their excellent choice. By shining a torch on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s achievements, the award reminds us that his work has not been completed. The road ahead could be paved with unintended consequences. Persistence and patience may be required for ultimate success. I believe that the ASEAN and Asian Ambassadors present today would join me in wishing H.E. Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed well in his challenges. Thank you.
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