Taking Singapore-ROK strategic partnership to higher levels

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and South Korean President Moon Jae-In at a joint press conference at the Istana on July 12, 2018 (The Straits Times)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and South Korean President Moon Jae-In at a joint press conference at the Istana on July 12, 2018 (The Straits Times)

By Ivan Lim
AJA Former President

Singapore: Singapore is seen as a bridge straddling troubled international waters that will pave the way for South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) of boosting ties with the 10-member- states of Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations).

The NSP is designed to advance President Moon Jae-in’s dream of an economically prosperous and nuclear-free peaceful community encompassing South-east and East Asia.

In realising this overarching vision, the small but sophisticated Asean city-state stands out as a strategic partner that will set the pace for the other nine member-states.

A Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is in the offing even as the two countries step up efforts to wrap up the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Following President Moon’s state visit to Singapore in 2018, the two major trading partners will move into high-tech co-operation in Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Smartgrid, cyber security. They will also share their experiences and expertise in water and waste management, clean energy and Climate Change issues.

That Singapore is South Korea’s key ally owed, in part, to their shared values and national experience, was cited by Ambassador Ahn Young-jip.

Speaking to a reception for members of the diplomatic corps and other guests to mark the Republic of Korea’s National Day and Armed Forces Day in Singapore on Oct 3, he said of  the two middle-power nations: “The disruption of existing orders can be a testing time for countries like us. However, we have stood firm thus far, boosting the shared values concerning anti-terrorism, ruled-based world order and a market-based free and open economy.”

Ambassador Ahn lauded Korea and Singapore as ‘living proof that a poor barren land can become an economic powerhouse.”

Next, he reprised the Lion City’s signal role in advancing Korea’s engagement with Asean.

As rotating chair of Asean in 1997, Singapore had hosted the Asean-ROK summit and Asean+ 3 Summit; in the 2000 Asean Regional Forum, it had invited North Korea to take part. In 2018 Singapore hosted the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Seoul will commemorate 30 years engagement with Asean countries by hosting a summit in Busan on November 25 and 26 at which Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other Asean leaders will meet President Moon Jae-in.

They will take up the theme of People, Prosperity and Peace for increasing tourist and business visits, expanding. free trade and fostering peace in the region.

The Busan meeting will offer high-level platform for the ROK to rally afresh Asean and the international community’s support for Mr Moon’s drive for a new order in East Asia in which North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons for peace and economic growth.

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