By Invitation: A selection of 10 columns by Tommy Koh

PHOTOS: ST FILE, REUTERS

Veteran diplomat Tommy Koh has contributed numerous opinion pieces to The Straits Times over the years.

In his columns, Prof Koh, who is ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has touched on issues about Singapore's foreign policy and diplomacy, and trade relations.

He has also written on topics close to the hearts of Singaporeans, such as the poor habits of the Singapore driver, and some traits bosses here should emulate.

Here are 10 selected columns by Prof Koh.

1. Free trade agreements and Singapore


PHOTO: AFP

Singapore's FTA policy was conceptualised and launched by former prime minister Goh Chok Tong and former trade minister George Yeo 20 years ago. Why did they do it?

They did it to expand Singapore's economic space. The strategy was to link our small economy to the economies of other bigger countries.

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2. Foreign domestic workers: A suggested rule book


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The most important rule is to treat your domestic helper as a fellow human being. She does not belong to some inferior sub-species of the human family. She is also not your slave. She is entitled to respect for her human dignity.

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3. Seven good habits for Singapore bosses to emulate


ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

The Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation should be concerned at the low level of employee engagement in Singapore. In my view, the root cause is not the employees but the employers.

We need to get our bosses to adopt positive habits.

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4. Singapore's journey to the 2019 UN General Assembly


PHOTO: REUTERS

 
 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's presence at the UNGA will underline Singapore's strong support for the UN at a moment when the world is polarised and multilateralism is being tested. Through its active role at the UN and during the UNGA, Singapore hopes to strengthen its partnership with countries around the world and share its development experience with other developing countries.

The UN will remain important for small states as it represents a rules-based international order and provides a forum to build a network of friends around the world.

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5. The seven habits of the Singapore driver


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The Singapore driver is a speed fiend now, but he can learn to drive appropriately. He may be selfish and lack courtesy, kindness and civic-mindedness today.

But I hope he, or she, learns to give way to others stuck in lanes, makes a conscious effort to park considerately, signals early, and avoids cutting in.

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6. My birthday wishes for Singapore


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This is a very special year for Singapore. First, we are celebrating the 54th anniversary of Singapore's independence.

Second, we are commemorating the 200th anniversary of the British East India Company setting up a trading post in Singapore.

Third, we are also reflecting on our pre-colonial history, which stretches back 700 years to the 14th century.

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7. A birthday letter to America


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In this essay, I wish to answer three questions. First, why do I admire America? Second, what are the differences between the America I knew and the America today? Third, what are my worries about the future of America?

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8. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: A revolutionary treaty


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Unclos is universally accepted as the modern law of the sea. It has restored order from chaos. It has kept the peace at sea. It has served the world well.

It is in our individual and collective interests to uphold and comply with its provisions. It is not in our interests to undermine it

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9. The UK and the EU: It's complicated


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The Brexiters are optimistic about the UK's future. They believe that it will thrive and prosper. Some of them even think that the UK could be Singapore writ large or be Singapore-on-the-Thames, as it is called.

The Remainers are pessimistic. They recall that the UK was declining economically until it joined the EEC in 1973. By joining the EU, the UK became part of a market of 500 million consumers.

We do not know what the future of UK will be, post-Brexit.

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10. Women's quest for justice and equality - a short history


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Women's rights are human rights. The struggle by women for justice and equality is one of the longest in the history of human rights.

Although much progress has been made, the struggle is not over in some parts of the world.

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