Singapore will upgrade three of its technical cooperation centres in the region in a bid to boost economic integration and adoption of technology in Asean, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
The Initiative for Asean Integration (IAI) Centres in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos will be-come Singapore Cooperation Centres (SCCs), PM Lee said at the opening of the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting .
"The new centres will expand our range of technical assistance and offer new modalities for capacity building that go beyond classroom training," said PM Lee.
"Singapore hopes to share our experiences, as well as learn from our neighbours and partners."
The IAI was launched in 2000 to narrow the development gap of the newer Asean members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Centres were set up in Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Vientiane and Yangon to conduct training courses for government officials in areas ranging from the English language to public administration.
To date, about 38,000 officials have participated in classroom-style courses at the training centres.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that with the upgrade, the SCCs will serve as an integrated platform to coordinate and deliver development assistance holistically, and facilitate a wider range of projects in areas such as urban planning, volunteer work and humanitarian assistance from entities including the Singapore Red Cross, Enterprise Singapore and Temasek Foundation. The SCCs are scheduled to begin operations from the fourth quarter of this year.
Singapore Red Cross secretary-general and chief executive Benjamin William welcomed the upgrade, saying it will spur greater collaboration between the public and private sectors to advance Asean integration.
"We will collaborate with MFA to conduct capacity-building courses in disaster management," he said. "With the enhancement, we would also leverage the SCCs as mobile offices whenever we deploy relief missions for disaster response in these countries."
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh