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November 09, 2017

MFA Press Statement: Visit by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman to Da Nang, Vietnam, 7 to 9 November 2017

     Senior Minister of State (SMS), Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman attended the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Da Nang, Vietnam from 7 to 9 November 2017.

     At the AMM, SMS Maliki delivered an intervention on promoting sustainable inclusive growth and food security.  SMS Maliki elaborated on Singapore’s human resources development efforts to provide all-rounded education through a greater investment in pre-school education, and the promotion of life-long learning to prepare the workforce for the future economy.  SMS Maliki spoke on Singapore’s new initiatives under SkillsFutureSG, such as MySkillsFuture, SkillsFuture Advice and SkillsFuture Series.  SMS Maliki also discussed the topic of food security from the perspective of small states, highlighting the importance of reducing unsustainable agricultural practices and the need to be sensitised to the impact of regional conflicts on food production and trade.

     SMS Maliki met with Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato and Peru’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Luna Mendoza on the sidelines of the AMM.  They reaffirmed the warm bilateral ties that Singapore has with Papua New Guinea and Peru respectively, and discussed ways to further deepen our bilateral relations.

     SMS Maliki also met with youth delegates from Singapore participating in the APEC Voices of the Future programme.  This annual programme brings together young people and educators from APEC economies to share their views and engage in dialogue with APEC Leaders, officials and CEOs.

     SMS Maliki concluded his visit by attending the inauguration of the APEC Park in Da Nang, at the invitation of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh.  The APEC Park features sculptures contributed by APEC economies, including Singapore, which contributed a work titled Incon-Junction by Singaporean sculptor Tan Wee Lit.

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29th APEC Ministerial Meeting Plenary Session 2

New Dynamism for Growth


1       Mr Chairman, I would first like to convey my deepest sympathies to Vietnam for the loss of lives and destruction caused by Typhoon Damrey in recent days.  I am confident that the people of Vietnam will pull together and rebuild their lives.

2        I also want to thank Vietnam for its able Chairmanship and giving us a very pertinent agenda today.  Given the concerns about globalisation, it is timely for us to discuss ways to achieve new dynamism for growth in the Asia-Pacific.  Singapore is heartened to see that we have a number of meaningful deliverables this year, aimed at promoting inclusive growth and preparing our workforce for the digital age.  APEC should intensify our collaboration and exchange best practices. 

3        Mr Chairman, allow me to share some of Singapore’s strategies. 

4        We first strive to provide an all-rounded education, starting from the very young.  Good education during our children’s early formative years can give them a firm foundation, level the playing field and enable social mobility.  We have substantially increased our spending on preschool education, to improve its quality and raise the standards of preschool teachers.  As our children grow, we provide them with different paths toward success.

5        But education is not just limited to our children.  Our citizens have to pick up new skills to take advantage of the evolving job landscape.  We have recently launched three new initiatives under ‘SkillsFutureSG’, a national movement designed to inculcate the value of life-long learning.  The first, MySkillsFuture, is a portal that helps people chart their career and learning pathways. The second, SkillsFuture Advice for Individuals, helps Singaporeans understand the importance of career planning and skills upgrading.  The third is a SkillsFuture Series of training programmes in priority areas, such as Data Analytics and Digital Media, to meet the needs of the future economy.

6        We actively support the life-long employability of the older workers as well.  We have introduced a ‘WorkPro’ scheme, which encourages companies to implement age-friendly practices, so that older workers can remain productive and help companies to remain competitive.  Singapore has one of the highest employment rates in the world for people aged 65 and over, because we have created safer, smarter jobs for our older workers.

7        Mr Chairman, it is natural that as economies develop and people become more educated, their aspirations change and they tend to favour white-collar jobs.  To attract the younger generation to traditional sectors like agriculture and aquaculture, our polytechnics are working with government agencies and industries to develop new, appealing courses.  These will cultivate fresh ‘agri-technologists’ with multi-disciplinary expertise in areas such as engineering and R&D. 

8        Doing so can help Singapore, a small and land-scarce city-state, ensure food security.  But no country can achieve self-sufficiency in all types of food.  We rely heavily on diversified food imports from different countries.  We also embrace a universal and rules-based multilateral-trading system, because trade-distorting measures such as export restrictions will affect food importing and exporting countries alike. 

9        However, these strategies alone are insufficient.  Food security continues to be threatened by environmental degradation and global warming.  Geopolitical uncertainties, regional disputes and acts of terrorism can also disrupt food production and transportation, undermining agricultural development.  Singapore, like other small states, are more vulnerable to the negative impacts.

10      Therefore, we must continue to encourage progress in the region to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices which are detrimental to both the environment and producers.  We should also be sensitised to the impact of regional conflicts on food production and trade, and consider ways to alleviate these. 

11      Mr Chairman, Singapore supports Vietnam’s deliverables under its Food Security agenda.  We will work closely with Vietnam and our APEC colleagues towards a successful and substantive AMM.  Thank you.

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