: Singapore, Vietnam must work together to maintain Asean centrality, uphold stability: PM Lee
[HANOI] Amid rising geopolitical tensions, Singapore and Vietnam must work even closer together to maintain Asean centrality and uphold a rules-based multilateral order, said Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Aug 28).
As fellow Asean members, both countries share a stake in the stability and prosperity of the region, said PM Lee in a toast speech at a dinner hosted by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, in Hanoi’s Office of Government Building.
The two countries have built strong political trust through the decades, PM Lee said, with Singapore’s former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong having longstanding friendships with their Vietnamese counterparts Vo Van Kiet and Phan Van Khai.
During the latter’s tenures, Vietnam’s economy flourished under reforms, the nation gained entry into Asean, and the first Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) was established, he noted.
Since then, over a dozen more VSIPs have been set up across Vietnam, in testament to the “growth and vibrancy of our ties”.
“I have had the privilege of continuing this close cooperation,” said PM Lee. This included working with several Vietnamese prime ministers to establish and strengthen the strategic partnership.
“All these are strong reasons that give me confidence that our relations will continue to flourish for many decades to come,” he added.
In his speech, delivered in Vietnamese, PM Chinh said Singapore has remained the nation’s most important partner throughout its journey of development and integration.
Describing the relationship between the two countries as one with an “exemplary dynamic”, he added: “Our partnership aims to make both countries the nuclei of solidarity for the shared Asean home, and to make commensurate contributions to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.”
PM Lee’s three-day official visit to the capital, which began on Aug 27, coincides with the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and the 10th year of the strategic partnership.
Earlier that day, PM Lee received a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi before attending a bilateral meeting with PM Chinh.
During the meeting, the two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding ties between Singapore and Vietnam, and agreed to step up cooperation in renewable energy, carbon credits and the digital economy, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
They also agreed to establish annual PM-to-PM meetings to discuss “the bilateral agenda and issues of mutual concern”, and to explore upgrading bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Shortly after, both prime ministers witnessed the exchange of agreements to boost partnerships in the green economy, innovation and skills development.
Three are new agreements, including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on an innovation talent exchange programme. This will allow Singaporean professionals to take up selected innovation-related jobs in Vietnam, and vice versa.
The other new agreements are an MOU on infrastructure cooperation, for collaboration in sustainable urban development between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as one to set out best practices in skills development and labour.
The remaining agreements are renewals of previous deals. A letter of intent was also signed by both countries, signalling the substantive conclusion of negotiations on an agreement that enables transfer of carbon credits between Singapore and Vietnam.
The prime ministers also witnessed an exchange of letters on the upgrade of the Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Framework Agreement, between Singapore’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng and Vietnam’s Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dzung.
Dr Tan and Dzung earlier agreed to expand the scope of the annual Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Ministerial Meeting – an economic platform established under the agreement – to cover “new and emerging areas” of energy connectivity, sustainability, and “digital and innovation”.
In the afternoon, PM Lee paid a courtesy call on Vietnam President Vo Van Thuong and met National Assembly chairman Vuong Dinh Hue. He also called on Communist Party of Vietnam general-secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.