Much to gain from heightened Singapore-Aussie relations

I welcome the new landmark cooperation agreement between Singapore and Australia as part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership ("S'pore, Australia ink pact taking ties to new heights"; last Saturday).

Having taken part in Exercise Wallaby during my national service days, I have witnessed, first hand, the valuable experience our soldiers gain through large-scale exercises in the vast training grounds of Australia.

It is a testament to the mutual trust and confidence between our two nations that Australia continues to allow us unprecedented access to its military facilities.

The expansion of military training and defence cooperation is especially critical at this time, not only because of our usual lack of space at home, but also because of the increasingly complicated strategic environment which requires the Singapore Armed Forces to train realistically for all scenarios.

As a student now studying in Melbourne, I am constantly exposed to the rich and vibrant culture of the Australian city and regional towns. So, I am very pleased that the proposed working holiday arrangement would enable more young Singaporeans to explore Australia, gain new perspectives and boost their credentials as global citizens.

Singapore is well regarded in Australia, not only because of longstanding historical ties, but also for its key role in bridging Australia and the dynamic economies of Asia.

The enhancements to our free trade agreement will stand us in good stead to benefit from Australian initiatives to attract Asian investments and find new markets for its products and services.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, Singapore and Australia are politically like-minded, strategically aligned and economically complementary.

It is my hope that this partnership will continue to endure and strengthen in the years ahead.

Dhevarajan Devadas

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Much to gain from heightened Singapore-Aussie relations'. Print Edition | Subscribe