MOU to hand over Myanmar institute

Running of the S'pore-Myanmar institute will be gradually taken over by Myanmar govt

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong calling on Myanmar President Htin Kyaw at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw yesterday.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong calling on Myanmar President Htin Kyaw at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has overseen the signing of an agreement that will facilitate the handover of the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI) to Myanmar over three years.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed yesterday, the Myanmar government will gradually take over the funding and management of the Yangon institute. Singapore will continue to provide technical and management skills that will help staff there operate independently.

Mr Goh, who arrived in the capital of Naypyitaw on Tuesday for a three-day visit, yesterday called on President Htin Kyaw and military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

U Htin Kyaw "expressed appreciation for Singapore's steadfast friendship", while Mr Goh "reaffirmed Singapore's continued support for Myanmar's development", said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

"They also discussed Myanmar's development challenges and growth strategies," said the statement.

During Mr Goh's meeting with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, they discussed how Singapore could continue to support Myanmar's development, the statement added.

Mr Goh was accompanied by Singapore legislators Zaqy Mohamad and Joan Pereira, as well as other foreign ministry officials.

Today, Mr Goh will meet the chairman of the Myanmar Parliament's assessment of legal affairs and special issues commission, Thura U Shwe Mann. He will also have lunch with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar is emerging from half a century of military rule after the handover of power to the National League for Democracy (NLD) party-led administration last year.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is constitutionally barred from the presidency, heads the government through a specially created post of state counsellor.

Singapore is the second largest investor in Myanmar, after China, with a cumulative US$15.7 billion (S$22.2 billion) worth of investments as of December last year, concentrated in sectors like hospitality, property development and utilities.

The SMVTI in Yangon, modelled after Singapore's Institute of Technical Education, offers courses in hospitality and tourism, electrical skills and electronics, and facilities management and engineering services. It also matches graduates with jobs.

The institute's governing board is co-chaired by Singapore Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and his Myanmar counterpart Myo Thein Gyi.

More than 700 students have graduated so far and 66 per cent have found jobs quickly after graduation. Ten of its top graduates are currently doing internships in Singapore.

Under various technical assistance programmes between the two countries, more than 13,000 Myanmar government officials have undergone training in areas like English language, economic development, and public administration.

In December last year, visa requirements were lifted between the two countries.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also announced last year that both countries will start discussions on a bilateral investment treaty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'MOU to hand over Myanmar institute'. Subscribe