SINGAPORE: ASEAN and the Commonwealth have much in common, and there is much that both can do together, in order to create a better world “for ourselves and future generations”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In an article written for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) Report, Mr Lee said that both ASEAN and the Commonwealth share core values such as tolerance, respect and understanding.
The report accompanies the biennial meeting, which will see leaders of 53 countries gather for a week-long summit in London to discuss global and regional issues of concern. This year’s CHOGM will be held from Monday (Apr 16) to Friday (Apr 20), and is themed “Towards a Common Future”.
“Both organisations seek to uplift the lives of their citizens through promoting good governance and sustainable practices,” wrote Mr Lee. “Both uphold an open, rules-based multilateral system which allows every country to prosper.”
Mr Lee noted that as ASEAN chair this year, Singapore is working with its ASEAN colleagues and external partners on multiple initiatives under its Chairmanship themes of “resilience” and “innovation”.
This includes projects to strengthen collective resilience against common threats like terrorism, cybercrime and climate change, as well as schemes to help ASEAN economies innovate and use technology to make ASEAN a vibrant and sustainable place to live and work.
“These aspirations are in line with CHOGM 2018’s themes of security, prosperity, fairness and sustainability,” he said.
In the article, Mr Lee wrote that Singapore has benefited from the Commonwealth community, and is happy that it can now pay it forward, and share its developmental experiences “to create a common future that is prosperous, secure, fair and sustainable.”
Singapore, he said, had joined the Commonwealth just a few months after gaining independence. “The odds were against our survival, but we pulled through,” he said. “We were deeply grateful to the friends who came to our help in times of need, many of whom were in the Commonwealth.”
Singapore is sharing its sustainable development approaches and expertise with the Commonwealth countries through technical assistance programmes, he added. Over the years, Singapore has conducted capacity building courses for many Commonwealth officials in areas like disaster management, enhancing infrastructure for national development and public sector management.
“We hope this sharing of experiences and exchange of ideas will continue to benefit future generations in the Commonwealth,” he said.
Mr Lee also wrote that Singapore will continue to do its part to contribute towards a common future of a resilient, innovative and sustainable Commonwealth. “I look forward to participating in the Commonwealth summit in London under the UK’s Chairmanship,” he said.