Singapore, United Kingdom can collaborate closely on climate change, R&D for the future: DPM Heng

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat with British High Commissioner Kara Owen in Eden Hall on the occasion of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Singapore and the United Kingdom do not just share a strong historical past, but have a lot in common when it comes to working together for a greener future, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (June 2).

Climate change is an area where there is "tremendous potential" for collaboration, such as in low-carbon solutions and decarbonising the energy grid, he said.

Both countries are accelerating cooperation to promote green finance and the development of international carbon markets, and Singapore is also working with the UK on a framework for green energy cooperation, he added.

DPM Heng also congratulated the UK for hosting a successful COP26 conference in Glasgow last November.

He was speaking on the occasion of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, where he congratulated Queen Elizabeth II for her reign over the past 70 years. She is the first British monarch to celebrate this milestone.

Also at the event in Eden Hall, the official residence of British High Commissioner Kara Owen, were former president Tony Tan, former British prime minister Tony Blair and Ms Owen.

In his speech, DPM Heng noted that Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in February 1952, when Singapore was still a British crown colony.

She has made three state visits here - in 1972, 1989 and 2006 - and the warmth shown by the crowds gathered on each of her visits attests to the high regard in which she is held by Singaporeans, he added.

He also noted that both economies have become more intertwined, with the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement coming into force in February last year, and the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement signed earlier this year.

He added that Singapore is committed to support the UK's accession into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Singapore and the UK are also close collaborators in the realm of innovation and research and development.

For instance, the Singapore-UK Bilateral Co-Innovation Programme aims to develop and fund projects between local and UK companies in areas such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food tech and cyber security.

DPM Heng noted that the UK is home to the largest overseas Singaporean community in Europe, and that the British community here is also the largest from Europe.

There are currently more than 5,700 UK companies in Singapore, and the British expatriate community in Singapore is about 40,000 strong.

The strong bilateral ties between the two countries are also manifested in the iconic heritage buildings and streets named after British places and figures. For instance, Singapore has its own Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street, and the bells on the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall's clock tower chime the same tune as the Big Ben in London.

But the most important legacies are the constitutional, administrative and judicial systems that the British built, as well as the use of the English language, he said.

"More than five decades after Independence, these systems continue to be pillars of strength for Singapore even as we evolve them to suit our local context."

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