Singapore at 56 and our enduring partnership with the Philippines


THE REPUBLIC of Singapore turns 56 on Aug. 9. The last 56 years may have been rife with challenges, but our small city state in Southeast Asia has continued to not only survive, but also thrive. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily lives of Singaporeans and our linkages with the world, we have continued to engage our partners in the region and beyond.

Singapore’s National Day is an occasion for Singaporeans to not only reflect on how far our country has come, but also to recognize that Singapore would not have been where we are today without the assistance and support from friends like the Philippines.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Philippines in 1969, bilateral ties have grown from strength to strength. We have good bilateral cooperation in a wide array of sectors, including defense and security, trade and business, education, health, human resource development, and culture. Singapore and the Philippines also work closely on important regional and international initiatives, including the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and vaccine multilateralism.

The past year has been extraordinarily challenging for all of us. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our economic ties are robust. Singapore remains one of the top investors in the Philippines, and our companies are bullish about the Philippines.

People-to-people ties also remain close, as the Philippine community is one of the largest diaspora groups in Singapore. We deeply appreciate the invaluable contributions that Filipino professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other economic frontline workers, have made to Singapore’s COVID-19 response, as well as our efforts to keep the Singapore economy going.

Another testament to the enduring friendship between our two countries is the donation of medical equipment like RT-PCR machines, COVID-19 test kits, and oxygen concentrators from the Singapore government and Singapore organizations like the Temasek Foundation to support the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19. International cooperation remains ever more important as the world, and especially our region, continue to battle new waves and variants of the virus.

Our two governments will continue to explore mutually beneficial areas of cooperation that will pave the way for Singapore and the Philippines to emerge from the pandemic stronger together. At the recent 5th Informal Consultations on the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan held on July 14, we identified opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation in new areas of growth such as the digital economy and the environment in the post-COVID-19 “new normal.” We also committed to a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery, and looked forward to the safe resumption of travel between our two countries when conditions permit.

To our Filipino friends who have walked with Singapore on our nation-building journey, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat (thank you all)! I am confident that Singapore and the Philippines will continue to grow and prosper together in the years ahead.

Gerard Ho is the Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the Republic of the Philippines.

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