Singapore grateful for "network of friends", says President

SINGAPORE - When Singapore became an independent nation in 1965, it received help from many friends, like Dutch economist Albert Winsemius.

And when Britain unexpectedly decided to withdraw early its armed forces stationed here, the members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which includes the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, helped to assure Singapore's security.

Today, Singapore, by the same token, is doing its part in helping other countries by sharing its developmental experience through the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Friday at a reception for foreign diplomats in Singapore.

"Close to 100,000 officials from over 170 countries have attended our SCP programmes, which cover a wide array of topics, ranging from sustainable urbanisation to human resource development to public governance," he said at the annual president's reception held at the Istana.

"We hope that these programmes will be useful to our foreign friends and help smoothen their developmental paths."

Dr Tan also paid tribute to Singapore's network of friends, which he said was one of the reasons for Singapore's continued survival and success.

There are about 70 foreign embassies in Singapore today and 80 more envoys to Singapore based in other countries, a big leap from the 24 in 1965, he noted.

"As the people of Singapore celebrate our Golden Jubilee, it is timely to take stock of where we came from, consider where we are now, and start to plan to go forward, to where we want to be."

"And as we continue on this Singapore journey, we hope for your continued friendship and support."