Singapore to be featured in City of London Festival next year as bilateral ties deepen

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Singapore's President Tony Tan view a display of Singaporean items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace in London on Oct 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Singapore's President Tony Tan view a display of Singaporean items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace in London on Oct 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - Singapore and London form a tale of two cities that can learn from each other how to attract talent and be a regional financial hub, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Wednesday.

In a sign of deepening ties between both cities, Dr Tan also announced that Singapore will be the featured country in the annual City of London Festival next year, coinciding with the Republic's 50th birthday.

Recent themes in the summer arts festival have featured the cultures of London's major trading partners, such as Japan.

This cultural exchange arising from the festival would reinforce the links between both cities, said Dr Tan during a banquet hosted in his honour by Lord Mayor of the City of London Fiona Woolf.

In his address to hundreds of guests including City of London senior officials, Dr Tan highlighted the shared history, similarities and robust ties between London and Singapore, and urged both to continue to deepen their partnership and links with each other.

Both Singapore and London are vibrant and diverse cities which welcome professionals from around the world, and are financial gateways to their respective regions of Asia and Europe, added Dr Tan, who is on a state visit to Britain.

Global cities must be sustainable and liveable to attract the best and the brightest, and Singapore and London have done well in this regard, he said.

Dr Tan noted how London was recently named the most desired place in the world to work in, and Singapore came in the global ninth and top in Asia.

But there is still more to be done, he said: "I believe London and Singapore can learn from each other on this front, especially with regard to tackling similar challenges such as social integration and housing affordability."

Agreeing, Ms Woolf in her speech said that a diverse tapestry of talent - such as what multicultural London and Singapore have - is "the greatest strength of any one city".

"We need the breadth and depth that diversity brings, in order to innovate and compete, in order to turn great challenges, population growth, infrastructure demands, climate change, into great opportunities," she said.

Dr Tan will be in Britain until the end of this week. Earlier on Wednesday, he had visited a cosy Singapore-United Kingdom Association Deepavali get-together.

charyong@sph.com.sg