CANBERRA • It was a double Golden Jubilee celebration for Singapore in Australia yesterday when some 500 guests, including its Prime Minister Tony Abbott, gathered to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and Singapore's National Day.
Australia was one of the first nations to establish diplomatic ties with Singapore in August 1965.
The joint commemorative event was held at Parliament House in the Australian capital Canberra, although embassies are generally not allowed to hold their national day receptions there.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who did not attend the event, wrote in a note that Singapore is privileged to count Australia as "an old friend and close partner".
"In relations between countries, five decades is not a long time. But for a young nation like Singapore, it is a major era," he said.
Prime Minister Lee also revealed plans to visit Australia next year.
In June, Mr Abbott was in Singapore to sign with Mr Lee the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which lays out a 10-year road map for closer collaborations in areas such as defence and economy.
Guests at the event yesterday were treated to a musical piece - Singapore Suite: East Coast Park On A Sunday Afternoon and Singapore Dreams - presented by Bridges Collective, an Australian and Singaporean ensemble.
A marble sculpture inspired by the Australian landscape and made by award-winning Singaporean artist Han Sai Por was presented as a gift to the Australian Parliament.
Over in Seoul, the Singapore mission also hosted a reception yesterday to mark Singapore's 50th birthday and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with South Korea.
The two countries established diplomatic ties on Aug 8, 1975.
Singapore Ambassador Yip Wei Kiat welcomed about 400 guests to the event held at Hyatt Hotel. They included South Korea's Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Yoo Il Ho, former foreign minister Song Min Soon, as well as ambassadors from Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun Hye exchanged congratulatory letters.
Ms Park also underlined untapped opportunities for cooperation between Singapore's knowledge-based economy and her country's creative economy.
Singapore food brands Bee Cheng Hiang and Crystal Jade, which have both entered the Korean market, served their signature bak kwa and dim sum at the reception. Other local delights included chicken rice and satay.
Lee Choo Kiong and Chang May Choon