SINGAPORE - Singaporeans in Poland and Polish nationals here were able to safely return to their respective home countries during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to the help of LOT Polish Airlines.
This was possible largely due to the warm bilateral relations between Poland and Singapore, which Mr Khaw Boon Wan helped build during his tenure as a minister.
Mr Khaw, who is now the chairman of SPH Media Trust, was awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland on Tuesday (April 5).
This is the second-highest class of the award, which is given to foreigners and Polish nationals residing abroad who have contributed to international cooperation or cooperation between Poland and other countries.
Speaking at the award ceremony, which was held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Mr Khaw said Singapore and Poland share a common desire to help their respective regions grow peacefully and contribute to the international community.
"Only when there is peace can there be prosperity for all," he added, noting the current conflict in Ukraine, which has sparked a refugee crisis.
"Poland's generous hospitality for the refugees gives evidence that there are many good people in our midst," said Mr Khaw.
Mr Khaw was Singapore's Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister between 2015 and 2020.
Under his purview, a direct flight between Singapore and Poland by LOT Polish Airlines was established in 2018.
In the following year, Temasek-owned port operator PSA International - along with two other partners - jointly invested in Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk, Poland's largest container terminal.
Bilateral trade in goods and services between Singapore and Poland also grew significantly during Mr Khaw's tenure.
In recent years, trade in goods exceeded US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) in value, while trade in services reached almost US$700 million.
At Tuesday's event, Ambassador of Poland to Singapore Magdalena Bogdziewicz said: "Mr Khaw's leadership and his personal dedication to strengthening bilateral ties, as well as our cooperation on international fora, have been highly valued."
Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who was also present at the ceremony, said Poland is an important trading and investment partner of Singapore.
"Over 100 Polish companies are based in Singapore to tap on opportunities not just here but in the larger region," said Mr Iswaran.
"Similarly, Singapore companies also use Poland as a strategic gateway to Central and Eastern Europe."
The minister said Singapore's robust bilateral ties with Poland is one of Mr Khaw's many contributions in public service.
"He is richly deserving of today's honour... and I would like to thank the Polish government for bestowing it on one of Singapore's finest sons," added Mr Iswaran.