Senior Minister Tharman arrives in London for working visit

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, will be in London for a five-day visit.
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, will be in London for a five-day visit.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

LONDON - Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam arrived in London on Sunday (June 9) for a five-day visit, keeping up the momentum of bilateral exchanges since the launch of the Singapore-United Kingdom Partnership for the Future earlier this year.

The visit also reaffirms the strong and multi-faceted relationship between Singapore and the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. It also comes as Singapore marks the bicentennial of Sir Stamford Raffles' arrival in Singapore and the beginning of historic ties with Britain.

"Several agreements, including those on digital government and financial cooperation, will be concluded during the visit," said the PMO statement on Sunday.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Dr Tan Wu Meng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry, will also be visiting London during the week.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched the partnership during Mr Hunt's two-day trip to Singapore in January. The partnership sees both sides building on existing links and strengthening collaboration, especially in four areas: the digital economy; sustainable business and innovation; security and defence; and education, culture and youth.

This is Mr Tharman's first visit to London as Senior Minister. His last working visit to London was in September 2018, as part of being the chair of the G-20 Eminent Persons Group on global financial governance.

Mr Tharman, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, Mr Ong and Dr Tan will attend a summit on Thursday (June 13), titled the Singapore-UK Partnership for the Future, Singapore Bicentennial 1819-2019, organised by the City of London Corporation.

At the event, Mr Tharman will deliver the opening address on bilateral relations, while Mr Ong will give a keynote speech highlighting the ways in which Singapore and Britain can deepen partnerships in a changing global environment. Dr Tan will participate in a panel session during which collaboration between Singapore and Britain, including new areas of cooperation in an increasingly digitalised global economy, will be discussed.

Mr Tharman will be also be conferred the Freedom of the City of London award, in recognition of his efforts to strengthen ties between Singapore and the city, and for his significant contributions to global financial governance. Previous recipients of the prestigious award include Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1982 and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2014.

Mr Tharman, who will meet senior British officials and business leaders during the visit, is also in London to attend sovereign wealth fund GIC's Investment Forum on Monday.

On Wednesday, he will deliver the keynote address at think tank Institute for Government's 10th anniversary conference. Later that day, Mr Tharman and the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Mr Peter Estlin, will open a three-day festival in Finsbury Avenue Square in London's financial district, organised by the Singapore Tourism Board to commemorate Singapore's bicentennial. The festival, set in a multi-sensory garden with art, music, food and drink, is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday.

Mr Ong will have separate meetings with senior British education leaders, as well as visit schools and institutes of higher learning in London. Dr Tan will also be meeting his counterparts.