14 July 2011 : Bastille Day in Singapore
14 juillet 2011
Speech of HE Olivier CARON
French Ambassador to Singapore :
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health
Ms Irene Ng and Mr Desmond Lee, Members of Parliament
Ladies and Gentlemen
Mr Olivier Caron, French Ambassador in Singapore
A warm welcome to the French National Day, to celebrate an event which came to usher in momentous events that changed the political landscape of France but also chimed with a broader aspiration to freedom and empowerment set on by the ideas of the Enlightnment.
Among the convictions that the French hold, one is that political will makes a difference. And this is certainly something we can share with Singapore, a nation born and built through political will.
Mr Olivier Caron, French Ambassador in Singapore and Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health
Today, political will is put to the test by economic challenges and the need to put the world economy back on the path of sustainable and balanced growth, after having emerged from the depths of the crisis a couple years back.
This is the sense of the impetus we wish to give to the works of the G20 summit in Cannes this year, for we believe that only through international cooperation will the world economy will secure a durable sure footing.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health
In this regard, I am happy to note the proximity of views and excellent cooperation France and Singapore on G20 issues and the quality and depths of exchanges between Singaporean and French ministers and Senior officials in this respect.
We trust that Singapore’s participation to this summit, on the invite of the French presidency, will provide a substantial and meaningful contribution to this common endeavour.
The economic ties between our two countries are on the rise for our mutual benefit.
Mr Olivier Caron, French Ambassador in Singapore and Mr Desmond Lee, Member of Parliament
Bilateral trade has been increasing to the tune of 21 % last year, thus confirming Singapore’s place in French trade patterns, accounting for close to half of French exports to ASEAN.
These ties are also reflected by the continued investment of French companies in Singapore, topping 430 subsidiaries, with Frenh FDI among to close to 5 billion euros, again close to half of French FDI in ASEAN.
The diversity of the French economic presence in Singapore – encompassing banking and insurance, high-end consumer goods, service, aeronautics and defense, high-tech manufacturing – bears witness to the opportunities available is Singapore in its own right as well as regional hub. It also bears witness to the ability of French companies to partake of the benefits of globalization.
In the global competitive pecking order, the creations of the mind are bound to make more and more of a difference. The future of countries such as Singapore and France is increasingly predicated on their ability to foster innovation and leverage its effects to address new challenges.
Those are energy security and sustainability, the health demands of ageing prosperous societies, the use of information technology to create new economic opportunities, to name but a few.
In this regard, Singapore stands out in the region for its effort devoted to Research and Development. This is also a major priority of the French government and there is ample ground to build on bilateral efforts such as the Merlion scientific program.
The number of Singaporean students studying long-term in France has risen by 32% in the last two years. We also aim to induce Singaporean Junior College students to consider accessing our elite institutions at the undergraduate level, with an incubator system aimed at detecting willing and able students from these Junior Colleges.
I am pleased to note that Singapore is a proving -ground for the development of multifaceted international collaborations between French and Singaporean research institutions and industrial companies, with joint laboratories such as CINTRA. This is certainly the wave of the future.
Enhancing the development of artistic and cultural exchanges is also a mainstay of our joint efforts : the Peranakan exhibit at the Musée du Quai Branly last year was a major success, and this year the VOILAH ! French festival will showcase even more spectacular events such as an exhibit of the Impressionsists, a special Rendezvous with French cinema, a gastronomic French market among others.
Finally, these uplifting prospects and opportunities, in business, science, and culture, must not make us lose sight of the security challenges at hand. Preserving security and stability undergirds our prosperity. In our globalized world, the impact of crisis and crimes has no boundaries and no country can handle these challenges alone.
In this regard, defence and security cooperation between the two countries is of critical import, both at the policy consultation and operational levels. In this regard, I am very pleased to note that Singapore, one of the two countries maintaining a military unit in France, will extend its Air Force training squadron in Cazaux for another 25 years. It embodies a concrete link between the two militaries, which are committed together in Afghanistan and in the Gulf of Aden to restore peace and stability.
Security cooperation is also on the rise, with joint efforts to address challenges such as piracy, with a French officer permanently stationed at the Information Fusion Centre, and to address new issues linked to transnational crime.
The creation by 2013 of INTERPOL Global Complex in Singapore shows definitely the commitment of Singapore in the fight against global crime, and France is glad to witness this Asian projection of the organisation which based in Lyon.
At the end of the day, those are the issues that ultimately test the political will of leaders and nations, and I am pleased to note in this regard that France and Singapore both share a commitment to a robust defence.
Mr Olivier Caron, French Ambassador in Singapore, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health, Ms Irene Ng and Mr Desmond Lee, Members of Parliament
And now, ladies and Gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to propose a toast to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Singapore.