Singapore and the United States will join hands to conduct cyber security training workshops in Singapore and around the region, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and visiting US Vice-President Mike Pence announced after their bilateral meeting on Friday (Nov 16).
Talking about the new initiative at a joint press engagement with Mr Pence at the Istana, Mr Lee said: “I’m pleased that our Cyber Security Agency and the US State Department will be working together on a technical assistance programme to conduct cyber security training workshops in Singapore and regionally.”
In his remarks, Mr Pence said expanding commerce in the 21st century required safe and reliable digital access. “This new initiative will leverage American business expertise to help our Asean partners to defend their digital border.”
Mr Pence, who arrived in Singapore on Tuesday to participate in Thursday’s East Asia Summit and the Asean-US meeting on behalf of President Donald Trump, is on his first official visit to Singapore.
He was given a guard of honour at the Istana and held a private meeting with Mr Lee before embarking on extended discussions, along with their delegations, over breakfast.
Mr Lee and Mr Pence reaffirmed the robust and enduring partnership between the two nations and the importance of the US presence in the region.
“The US plays an important and constructive role in our region and hence Singapore hopes to continue developing our ties with the US as well as strengthen the Asean-US relationship,” Mr Lee said in his remarks after the meeting.
Economically, Mr Lee noted that Singapore’s investments in the US and US exports to Singapore support more than a quarter of a million American jobs. The US is also Singapore’s largest foreign investor, with many American companies choosing to base their Asian headquarters in Singapore."
“Even Shake Shack is opening its first burger outlet in Singapore very soon,” he quipped, to chuckles from the audience. “Which is the most important investment of all.”
Both leaders also noted the strengths of their economic, defence and security ties.
“Our security cooperation keeps open the lanes of commerce,” Mr Pence said.
In a reference to China’s growing presence in the region and the efforts under way by Asean to manage differences on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, he said: “The US encourages Asean to continue to move forward to a meaningful and binding code of conduct on the South China Sea. The countries of this region must be able to explore and develop their own resources, navigate their own waters and establish partnerships of their own choosing. The South China Sea does not belong to any one nation.”
Mr Lee noted that Mr Pence’s visit was the latest in a series high-level engagements with the Trump administration this year. Mr Lee had hosted Mr Trump during his visit to Singapore for the historic US-North Korea summit in June. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited in August for the Asean ministerial meetings and Defence Secretary James Mattis made a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June and participated in meetings with Asean defence ministers last month.
The cyber security agreement, which was among a clutch of MOUs signed between the two nations, will deliver three training workshops on various aspects of cyber security capacity building annually.
The workshops will take place in Singapore and around the region in partnership with some Asean nations. It was formalised through the Declaration of Intent on a Singapore-US Cybersecurity Technical Assistance Programme for Asean Member States, signed by Mr David Koh, chief executive officer of Cyber Security Agency, and US Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath.
Other MOUs include one on the renewal and expansion of a 2016 collaboration platform to promote cooperation in energy, advanced manufacturing and tech partnerships. Others pertained to two tax agreements for better information sharing and compliance.