S'pore firms making their mark in Laos

Dr Tan presenting a Lao edition of the book, From Third World To First: The Singapore Story From 1965 To 2000, which was written by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, to Mr Thongloun.
Dr Tan presenting a Lao edition of the book, From Third World To First: The Singapore Story From 1965 To 2000, which was written by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, to Mr Thongloun.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

S'poreans based overseas, like those in Laos, bring 'little red dot' to world: President Tan

Vientiane, with its squat buildings and narrow roads buzzing with carts and tuk-tuks, seems to have little in common with Singapore.

But familiar names - from the Management Development Institute of Singapore to SilkAir - appear on signboards and banners that adorn the Laotian capital.

They reflect Laos' steady opening of its doors to the world over the past few decades.

The move has attracted Singaporeans and Singapore companies, which have made their mark in a range of sectors, including hotels, education and the retail business, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam yesterday at a reception for Singaporeans in Vientiane.

He cited several Singapore brands present in Laos, such as Somerset serviced apartments, Banyan Tree resorts and Tiger Beer.

Dr Tan, who is on a state visit to Laos, told about 50 people at the reception: "Singaporeans like yourselves, who are based overseas, will continue to play an important part in bringing our 'little red dot' to the world."

He was also heartened to find that Singaporeans have volunteered their time and resources to improve the lives of Lao communities.

The goodwill generated from such acts contributes greatly to strengthening people-to-people ties between both countries, Dr Tan said.

He cited several examples, including Singaporeans supporting the Lao Disabled Women's Development Centre.

Dr Tan also spoke of how relations between Singapore and Laos have grown in breadth and depth since diplomatic ties were established more than 40 years ago.

"Now that there are almost daily flights connecting Singapore and Vientiane, I hope that many of you have the chance to return home for festive seasons, including the upcoming Lunar New Year," he said.

He is confident the greater air connectivity will promote more trade and investment flows, as well as people-to-people exchanges.

"Singapore and Laos have come a long way, and there are still more areas of collaboration for our public and private sectors to develop," Dr Tan added

Earlier in the day, he visited Laos' University of Health Sciences to look at how specialist volunteers from Singapore Health Services are helping to improve the quality of physiotherapy education in Laos.

Since the three-year project by the Singapore International Foundation, SingHealth and the university was launched last August, about 136 people - nearly half of the 284 physiotherapists in Laos - have attended training workshops.

Dr Tan was hosted to lunch yesterday by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. In the evening, he headed to Luang Prabang, where he will wrap up his visit this afternoon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore firms making their mark in Laos'. Print Edition | Subscribe