S'pore Cooperation Programme hits milestone with 100,000 participants

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), which Singapore started in 1992 to offer technical aid to other countries, today celebrated a significant milestone, with 100,000 participants having attended the course as of this year.

Mrs Shelley Nicholls-Hunte, director of the financial intelligence unit in the office of attorney general of Barbados, was the 100,000th participant of the programme. She received a commemorative gift and certificate from Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam at an award ceremony today attended by 28 foreign officials from 27 countries including Bulgaria, Cambodia and Namibia.

Mrs Nicholls-Hunte, who is attending the SCP course on "Singapore's Anti-Corruption Strategies", said: "The United Nations has required all countries to focus more on anti-corruption. (That) the Singapore Government (is) providing opportunities for us to learn from each other is very timely."

She said she hopes to strengthen "legal, financial, and enforcement structures" back in her home country after the course. "It is exciting to learn about the importance Singapore puts on developing people," she said.

The primary platform through which Singapore extends technical help to over 170 countries, the SCP sees over 6,000 foreign officials attending about 300 courses and workshops each year. These cover a wide range of subjects including port management, civil aviation and public governance.

The SCP has constantly adapted to meet changing needs around the world. It now addresses emerging issues such as sustainable development, cyber and food security, technical and vocational training and social governance.

Mr Shanmugam said: "In the 1960s and 70s, we were a small island with no natural resources or hinterland. Thankfully, we had friends from around the world, from whom we received tremendous help...now, we share our own development experience with our friends around the world."

The SCP Platform helps Singapore establish a network of friendships around the world, cultivate influential foreign leaders, build goodwill with the international community, and strengthen bilateral partnerships.

The top five recipient countries of the SCP's assistance are Vietnam, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Cambodia.

While Asean may be the SCP's priority, it also attracts participants from Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean.

Mr Ned Howard, of the Ministry of Transport in the Cook Islands, attended the Singapore-Pacific Ministerial Study Visit organised by the SCP in 2012. He said: "Singapore is a small island, (but) we are much smaller than Singapore...we certainly can learn a lot more from the way Singapore operates."

Mr Ismat Aburabee, of the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau from the Palestinian National Authority, remarked that Singapore is very developed and organised. He said: "The cooperation between the people and the Government of Singapore is what has helped Singapore to become a developed country."

Mr Shanmugam said that some of the top compliments he has heard from participants include Singapore's rapid development, orderly system and the harmonious nature of its multi-racial and multi-religious society.

"They are impressed that a small country with no natural resources... has been able to achieve this level of development in such a short time," he said.