State Banquet Hosted by Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore
Singapore, Republic of Singapore, Monday, November 21, 2011
I am an educator at heart, and so I leapt at the opportunity to learn about how Canada’s relationship with Singapore has evolved over the years.
Mr. President, your kind words of friendship underscore how important visits like this are, and how much in common we have: as trade partners and as partners in various multilateral fora, such as APEC, the World Trade Organization and the Commonwealth.
Our two countries also pursue open dialogues on multiculturalism and recognize how important a diverse population is to our future. The many Canadians who have come to this country to study, live or visit highlight the importance of our connection with Singapore.
I have often spoken about the challenges and the opportunities that result from an increasingly globalized world. In Singapore, we see the possibility of increasing collaboration in many spheres, and that is vital not only to our people, but also to the world.
In this age, we must strive for success in a wide range of domains, including two in which Singapore is a leader in: innovation and education.
I have always said that it is vital to innovate to be successful, but we also need to keep our minds open so that we might learn from our neighbours and friends. Singapore and Canada, through our close relationship, give our two peoples the opportunity to learn from one another and to apply these skills.
Learning, after all, is the cornerstone of any society. Singapore knows this to be true. I admire your country’s commitment to education, and how successfully it has evolved. Your universities have become world-class institutions because you understand that through education, you will be able to improve your country and the world. New discoveries often happen when people are given the freedom to dream of the improbable and then make it a reality.
I am also pleased that our countries participate in student exchanges that allow our citizens to discover each other. Our institutions are also partnering under the ASEAN-Canada Research Partnership Program, which will allow us to enhance our understanding of regional integration processes and their impacts, as well as expand our ties with Singapore at a variety of levels.
In this way, we are both encouraging global citizenship, which is so important in today’s world.
We often speak of diplomacy between governments, but these educational institutions and students are embarking on a new relationship based on diplomacy of knowledge.
In fact, our relationship is strengthened by our strong people-to-people ties, and I hope that we will be able to encourage this during this visit.
That is why I am pleased to be travelling with a delegation of Canadians representing a variety of fields. I encourage Canadians and Singaporeans alike to talk to one another and to find new ways to collaborate with each other.
Because that will be the future of any strong friendship, the collaboration we embark upon, in education, in innovation and in many other areas.
Finally, I would like to say one more thing about Singapore’s hospitality. Yesterday, I visited the National Orchid Garden, a beautiful place that is also influenced by Singapore’s innovation and educational focus.
There, I was honoured to have an orchid named after me—something my wife was quite pleased to hear about!
This privilege, sparingly bestowed, is one that I was humbled to accept. It also speaks volumes about the importance Singapore places on its relationship with Canada. During this visit, I hope that I was able to show, through the discussions I had and the activities I undertook, that Canada values Singapore as a friend just as strongly.
Please join me in raising our glasses to the opportunities of innovation, the possibilities of education and the enduring friendship between our two countries.