President Tan visits Cambodia and Laos

He is the second S'pore head of state to make a state visit to the two Asean member countries

President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrives in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh today as he embarks on state visits to Cambodia and then Laos.

The two visits will last a total of seven days, with Dr Tan being in Cambodia until Jan 11 and in Laos until Jan 14. The visits reaffirm Singapore's warm and longstanding relations with both countries, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Cambodia was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore's independence in 1965, while Laos and Singapore celebrated four decades of diplomatic ties in 2014.

Dr Tan is the second Singapore head of state to make a state visit to the two Asean member countries. The first was his predecessor S R Nathan, who visited Cambodia and Laos in 2003.

In Phnom Penh, Dr Tan will receive a ceremonial welcome and be hosted to a royal banquet at the Royal Palace by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni. He will have an audience with the King and with Queen Mother Norodom Monineath. He will meet Prime Minister Hun Sen as well, and witness the signing of two agreements on vocational training and healthcare.

Dr Tan will also visit Calmette Hospital, where Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Temasek Foundation International are helping Cambodian doctors and nurses improve their skills in trauma care and resuscitation. He will attend a reception for Singaporeans living in Cambodia as well.

The President then heads to Siem Reap, where he will be hosted to dinner by the Governor of Siem Reap province, Mr Khim Bun Song.

Dr Tan will also visit the iconic Angkor Wat, a sprawling temple complex, and the Bayon temple famous for the serene faces carved into its stone towers.

He starts his visit to Laos in its capital Vientiane on Wednesday. There, he will be given a ceremonial welcome. He will also call on and be hosted to a state banquet at the presidential palace by his Lao counterpart Bounnhang Vorachit.

He will also meet Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and visit Laos' University of Health Sciences, where the Singapore International Foundation and Singapore Health Services are helping to improve the quality of physiotherapy education.

Dr Tan will visit That Luang - the golden Buddhist stupa that is the pride of Vientiane and the national symbol of Laos - and attend a reception for Singaporeans in Laos.

During the state visit, a Lao translation of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's 2000 memoir, From Third World To First, will be launched.

Dr Tan will then make his way to Luang Prabang city - a Unesco Heritage Site - where he will meet its governor Khamkhan Chanthavisouk and visit the Royal Palace Museum, a former residence for royalty built in 1904.

He will be accompanied on these visits by his wife Mary, as well as Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck and MPs Lee Bee Wah and Darryl David.

Officials from the President's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Health Ministry will also be part of his delegation.

While Dr Tan is away, the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr J. Y. Pillay, will act as President.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'President Tan visits Cambodia and Laos'. Print Edition | Subscribe