A personal aspect to Singapore and Dutch ties

The first stop for Mr Rutte yesterday was the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid hybrid, Aranda Mark Rutte, was named in his honour. With him is National Parks Board deputy CEO Leong Chee Chiew.
The first stop for Mr Rutte yesterday was the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid hybrid, Aranda Mark Rutte, was named in his honour. With him is National Parks Board deputy CEO Leong Chee Chiew.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

When former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died last year, the late Dutch economist Albert Winsemius' children, Ankie and Pieter, attended the funeral service as private guests of the Lee family.

Dr Winsemius played an integral role in Singapore's growth as the Government's chief economic adviser from 1961 to 1984.

His children's presence underscored how the diplomatic relationship between Singapore and the Netherlands also has a very personal dimension, said visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

He highlighted the strong ties between the two countries in a toast at an official lunch at the Istana yesteday hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Both Singapore and the Netherlands also cooperate in water management - whether on the issue of water scarcity for Singapore or floods in the Netherlands - and have turned water from a foe to a friend, said Mr Rutte, who is in Singapore on a one-day official visit.

 

The two countries have a win-win partnership, he added.

Dutch companies are keen to cooperate further in innovation and research and to come up with fresh solutions to global challenges like climate change, he said.

"It is not just a necessity, but with a good friend like Singapore, it is also a pleasure," Mr Rutte added.

PM Lee too had warm words for the Netherlands, highlighting historical ties between them. Economic ties are strong as well, with both working closely in many areas including business, education, defence and the environment.

The Netherlands is Singapore's largest European investor, investing close to $70 billion here.

It is also Singapore's third-largest trade partner in the European Union. About 1,300 Dutch companies operate in Singapore.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'A personal aspect to S'pore and Dutch ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe