By Ms. Sua Kim
Staff reporter, The Korea Post media
Google World states that Singapore scored US$85,050 last year in GNI where the United States did US$58,030, the Republic of Korea (South) US$35,790, the Russian Federation US$22,540 and China US$15,500. So we know where Singapore stands in the world today.
She really stands tall.
On Aug. 18 this year, Ambassador Yip Wei Kiat of Singapore in Seoul hosted a gala reception at the plush Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Seoul to celebrate her 52nd National Day.
“One Nation Together is a rallying call for Singaporeans to harness our diversity to overcome challenges as one people and one nation regardless of our origin and background,” said Ambassador Yip in his congratulatory speech to an estimated 600 Korean and international dignitaries attending the party.
Then he said, “The good news is that since the end of last year, Singapore has returned to more robust economic growth.”
On Korean-Singaporean cooperation and relations, Ambassador Yip was very optimistic. He said, “Singapore’s investments into Korea remain healthy. We retained our position as the third largest foreign investor in Korea in 2016.” He said that Singapore also welcomed Korean investments in his country. (See excerpts from his speech toward the end of this report.)
What better news could the Korean business representatives at the party would have wished to hear?
The Korean companies these days, especially those in China, are experiencing a really tough time. Due to the THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) missile deployment in Korea, China is very hurt and continues to retaliate against the measure not so much to the government of the powerful United States as to the defenseless private Korean businesses in her country, the worst-hit being the Lotto Business Group. The Korean companies under this predicament are seeking a way out of the situation and out of China.
Against this backdrop, Ambassador Yip’s fitting remarks came pat on the Korean business leaders at the party. Ambassador Yip said, “At the same time, we also welcome the continued participation of Korean companies in Singapore’s development, including the KRW370 billion deal which LS Cable & System won earlier this year to supply underground high-voltage cables for a project in Singapore.”
It was one of the best attended parties this year with the estimated 600 VIP guests representing all walks of life as well as the government and the business community.
Among the guests in attendance, off hand, were Minister Madam Kim Hyun-mee of Land, Infrastructure & Transport; National Assemblymen Lee Seok-hyun and Kim Hack-yong; former Ministers of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se and various other civic leaders who included press representatives, among them Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media, who operates 3 English and 2 Korean-language news media outlets since 1985.
From the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, attendance was unusually large and it appeared all the ambassadors in Seoul were there with their spouses.
Among them were Ambassadors Umar Hadi of Indonesia, Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar, Alexander Andreevich Timonin of Russia, Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka, and Taras Fedunkiv of Ukraine (Charge d’Affaires) in alphabetical order of the name of the country).
Among the Korean business representatives offering the best wishes to Ambassador Yip on the most auspicious occasion of Singapore with congratulatory flowers were President Lee Ik-hyun of KLRI, CEO Kyung-sik Sohn of CJ Group, Chairman David Kim of KHI Inc., General Manager Cho Jung-Wook of Hotel Shilla Seoul and CEO Jung Soo-hyun of Hyundai E&C. There also was one presented by Ambassador Ting Joseph Shin of the Taipei Mission in Korea (formerly the Embassy of the Republic of China).
There were many events and displays that greatly attracted the attention of the guests. Among them was a booth manned by four women and two men, who gave out a small package of gift to each guest. The polite young women and men more than merited a name mentioned for their extremely courteous manner and kindness which stood out from many other diplomatic functions. Their names: Ms. Shim Na-young, Park Da-yeon, Kim Eun-ji and Rah Namkung. The two young men were: Shim Jae-hee and Jin Nam Hung.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Yip:
On August 9 every year, many people in Singapore usually gather together with their families to watch the National Day Parade, fireworks and have a party. But for those of us far away from home and our families, we instead invite our friends to celebrate this day with us. As you say here in Korea, (A close neighbour is better than a distant cousin.) So I would like to thank all of you for joining us at this reception tonight to mark the 52nd anniversary of Singapore’s independence. In particular, I would like to express my appreciation to a few old friends of Singapore for being here. They are National Assembly Member Lee Un-Ju and former Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Yu Myung-hwan, who have all previously lived or worked in Singapore for a few years.
The theme for this year’s Singapore National Day celebration is “One Nation Together.” This is represented by the logo of four interlocking arms with the image of Singapore in the middle, symbolising our strength in social unity and multicultural harmony. “One Nation Together” is a rallying call for Singaporeans to harness our diversity to overcome challenges as one people and one nation regardless of our origin and background.
Indeed, for the greater part of last year we had to weather the challenges of a subdued global economy that had been weighed down by weak demand and political discontent. The good news is that since the end of last year, Singapore has returned to more robust economic growth.
We are cautiously optimistic that this momentum will carry through for the rest of the year in the same way that we are seeing a steady recovery in our bilateral trade with Korea. Singapore investments into Korea remains healthy. We retained our position as the third largest foreign investor in Korea in 2016.
At the same time, we also welcome the continued participation of Korean companies in Singapore’s development. One such example is a KRW370 billion deal which LS Cable & System won earlier this year to supply underground high-voltage cables for a project in Singapore.
In terms of high level political exchanges, we were happy to host the visits of Speaker of the National Assembly HE Chung Sye-kyun and then-Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan earlier this year. Last month, my Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo made a working visit to Korea. Over the next few months, a few other Singapore Ministers are expected to travel to Korea for either bilateral visits or to attend regional and multilateral meetings.
Just two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was in the Philippines to attend the ASEAN Ministers Meeting and to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s establishment on August 8. [August 8 is coincidentally also the anniversary of Singapore’s diplomatic relations with Korea.]
As an ASEAN member state, Singapore welcomes President Moon Jae-in’s desire to elevate the ASEAN-Korea partnership. We look forward to hearing more details on how this vision will be realised.
For Singapore, ASEAN-Korea cooperation is an integral part of our bilateral cooperation with Korea. We are ready to expand and deepen this partnership particularly in such areas as sustainable development, innovation, nurturing small & medium-sized enterprises and harnessing the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Finally, I am happy to inform you that as in previous years we have worked with the hotel to include some well-known Singapore food such as Hainanese chicken rice and bak-kut-teh in tonight’s menu. Our appreciation also goes to Singapore brands such as Bee Cheng Hiang, Crystal Jade, Gryphon Tea, Owl Coffee and SingKee for supporting this reception. Please try out what they have to offer at the back of this ballroom. Enjoy yourselves and have a pleasant evening.