Singaporeans in Australia crucial to building bilateral ties: President Tan

PERTH - Singaporeans in Australia are key in strengthening ties between Singapore and Australia said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday as he urged them to continue developing relations between the two countries.

"All of you play a crucial role in strengthening ties between Singapore and Australia through the work that you do, the friendships forged, and the links established with the local business and community networks," he said at a reception with about 180 Singaporeans based in Western Australia.

The ties between Singapore and Australia are warm and long-standing, he said. Cooperation is deep and across diverse fields, including defence, education, trade and tourism, he added, and both countries are always exploring ways to strengthen this friendship.

One such way is the pilot programme of the New Colombo Plan, which sends Australian students to Singapore and other countries in the region.

Another is the recent extension of the trial SmartGate automated border processing system to Singaporeans, he noted, which makes it more convenient for Singaporeans with biometric passports to clear immigration when entering Australia.

Australia is home to about 50,000 Singaporeans, with Perth hosting the largest community of about 14,000 Singaporeans. Among them are professionals, entrepreneurs, students, homemakers, and air force personnel.

President Tan highlighted the Singapore community in Perth for being active in promoting bilateral ties by establishing chambers of commerce and business councils. He encouraged them to continue working with the High Commission to strengthen the ties between the countries.

Dr Tan also urged Singaporeans to stay connected to home, and to "keep the Singapore spirit strong".

With increasing globalisation, more Singaporeans have ventured overseas to study and seize opportunities where their skills are in demand, he said.

But with technology having "narrowed the distance between home and Australia", it is also easier for Singaporeans to keep in touch with what is happening back home.

"I hope that you will take advantage of this to stay closely linked to your family and your country," he said.

Earlier, Dr Tan visited the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Pearce Detachment, where he was met by Chief of Air Force Major-General Hoo Cher Mou.

Dr Tan and his wife Mary then took a tour of the base, inspecting its PC-21 simulator before meeting members of the 130 squadron and their family members. The squadron consists of over 90 pilots, air force engineers, trainees and support staff currently deployed at Pearce. Dr Tan and the Singapore delegation leave for Singapore on Friday.

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