Singapore Ambassador: Spring is time of renewal, family reunion, thanksgiving and planning for future

Tết holds great significance for the many in both Singapore and Vietnam as Vietnam will celebrate the Year of the Cat, while in Singapore we mark the Year of the Rabbit.
Ambassador of Singapore to Vietnam Jaya Ratnam. (Photo: PH)

Another year has flown by and Tết is again upon us. But this Tết feels different from the last. So much has changed this past year. Vietnam has beaten back COVID-19. Borders have reopened, businesses restarted, and families reunited.

This has been a strong boost not only for Vietnam’s economy but for Singapore-Vietnam relations, not least as we celebrate 2023, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership (50/10).

The past year has seen a steady stream of high-level visits, beginning with the State Visit of Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Singapore in February 2022. This was reciprocated by Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob in October 2022. Vietnam successfully hosted the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May across multiple provinces and cities, which Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin attended as President of the Singapore National Olympic Council just before his Official Visit.

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat paid an Official Visit to Vietnam in September, while Vietnam’s Central Organisation Commission Chairwoman Truong Thi Mai travelled to Singapore in November. Ministers, government officials, heads of localities, business and student delegations have also resumed travel between Singapore and Vietnam. These were opportunities to review our multifaceted, substantive relationship and fresh momentum for cooperation.

Economic collaboration is the cornerstone of our ties. Vietnam is expected to record impressive GDP growth of 7.5 – 8% and be one of the world’s fastest growing economies amid global headwinds. Singapore is pleased to contribute to this achievement. We have been Vietnam’s top source of foreign investment since 2020, notwithstanding the pandemic.

This reflects the confidence that Singapore businesses have in Vietnam’s resilience and prospects. Today, 12 Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) span the length of Vietnam. They have attracted over USD 16.2 billion of investment and created over 300,000 jobs. Several other VSIPs are in the pipeline and expected to generate another 42,000 jobs. The iconic VSIPs will continue to transform to meet Vietnam’s evolving aspirations. For instance, the third VSIP in Binh Duong will incorporate Industry 4.0 technology, encourage innovation, and pursue sustainability.

Our leaders continue to look ahead. They have agreed to strengthen cooperation in several areas: sustainability, digital transformation, and people-to-people ties.

Climate change is the key planetary challenge of this century. Addressing it will require governments, businesses, and ordinary citizens to harness their collective will and resources. Singapore and Vietnam have committed to significantly reduce our emissions and reach net-zero carbon emissions by or around 2050. This is only possible if we work together to develop renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. Piloting carbon credits trading and exploiting green finance are two practical and exciting ways we are looking to do this.

Digital transformation accelerated during the pandemic and will facilitate the growth of digital economies. There is good potential for Singapore and Vietnam to foster bilateral and regional digital connectivity and interoperability. We have already established working groups on digital economy and cybersecurity. These will provide a foundation for our governments, companies, and peoples to transact with each other easily and securely. This is also steppingstone to accessing other markets around the world.

Last but in no way least, people-to-people ties give meaning and substance to bilateral relations. This is an existing area of cooperation to strengthen. Singapore has been a strong supporter of Vietnam’s human resource development over the years. In 2022, we marked the 20th anniversary of the agreement to establish the Vietnam-Singapore Cooperation Centre in Hanoi and celebrated the 20,000th Vietnamese participant in the Singapore Cooperation Programme. As global travel resumes, there will be new and more opportunities for our people in both countries to increase education, tourism, and cultural exchanges. These interactions are not only for leisure and recreation but help heighten cross-cultural understanding. They are therefore important foundations on which to sustain the warm friendship between our peoples and countries for the generations to come.

Tết holds great significance for the many in both Singapore and Vietnam. Vietnam will celebrate the Year of the Cat, while in Singapore we mark the Year of the Rabbit. But for both countries, spring is a time of renewal, family reunion, thanksgiving, and planning for the months ahead.

I look forward to celebrating my second Tet in Vietnam. Hanoi is abuzz with energy and anticipation as everyone begins to prepare variously to journey home, receive relatives, and celebrate with neighbours and friends. I have encouraged my colleagues in Vietnam to spend time with their families or travel – many scenic locations in north Vietnam are breaking into bloom within just a few hours’ drive from Hanoi. I likewise hope the Vietnamese community in Singapore will enjoy marking the Lunar New Year in Singapore. On this auspicious occasion, I wish all Vietnamese and their families a very happy and healthy new year. Chúc mừng năm mới!

Korea strengthens substantive cooperation and looks forward to the future with ASEAN
Can Tho exhibitions feature Mau Than General Offensive 1968 spring, Paris Peace Accords
International Migrants Day: It’s time to tell a story of hope for migration
Vietnam becomes largest importer of RoK for first time
Activities celebrate 1968 Spring General Offensive and Uprising in Ho Chi Minh City