French National Day Celebration in Singapore [fr]
In celebration of the French National Day in Singapore, we invite you to watch the official speeches by French Ambassador Marc Abensour and Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman as well as our two countries’ national anthems performed by the International French School choir. Happy French National Day, joyeuse fête nationale !
Speech by the Ambassador of France to Singapore, Marc Abensour, on the occasion of the French National Day Celebration (14 July 2020)
Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chers compatriotes, dear Singaporean friends,
It is my great honour and pleasure to celebrate our National Day with you. Each 14th July, we commemorate the Storming of the Bastille, the victory of liberty and equality over privilege. This year, this moment, also celebrating fraternity and national unity, occurs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to have great impact on all of us.
My thoughts go first to those who mourn the loss of a dear one, to all those who have been directly affected by the pandemic. I would like to pay tribute to the health workers and those who have come to the front lines to ensure the continuity of our daily lives.
In this regard, on behalf of the French community in Singapore, I express our deep gratitude to the Singapore authorities and reiterate our trust in them. During these trying times, we have been able to ascertain on numerous occasions, the availability and efficiency of our Singaporean partners. This is greatly appreciated since the embassy was entirely mobilised to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens.
Our lives have completely changed because of Covid-19. In each country, the pandemic has played a role in revealing certain vulnerabilities but also in accelerating the transformations under ways.
We must take this fully into account to develop and intensify the strategic partnership between France and Singapore. Together, we can be stronger both to strengthen the resilience of our two countries and to seize the opportunities for the post-Covid period.
Several partnerships have increased our resilience in the following areas:
In the health care domain: On the onset of the crisis, the Embassy has set up a scientific council to monitor the pandemic in Singapore and the region, which gathers French researchers, doctors, and representatives of big pharmaceutical companies. This council will now evolve towards a bilateral working group on infectious diseases notably involving the Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and its French counterparts. We have shared also, including at the ministerial level, on the "tracing" applications. The "Trace together" has inspired the development of the French application "StopCovid".
In the food industry: Taking into account the disruption in supply chains, France has contributed to strengthen and diversify the supply of food in Singapore. Our two countries signed a joint declaration last June to encourage partnerships in agricultural and agro-food sectors. For this pilot initiative, a specific organization is now set up with Team France Export to support interested exporters, and a follow-up mission to Singapore is already planned for March 2021.
In the economic and commercial field: Singapore remains more than ever the regional hub for French companies wishing to expand their activities in Asia. The economic recovery is expected to be particularly rapid in this region. As Such, France’s contribution to the Singaporean economy is significant: around 1,000 French subsidiaries, which have created more than 35,000 jobs with an investment of around 12 billion €. Our trade has never been greater and 2019 was a year of record. This confirms the confidence of French businesses in the future of Singapore. At the same time, in 2019 France became number one country in Europe to receive foreign direct investments with an increase of 11%. With regard to Singaporean investments in our country, the number of new decisions has doubled in 2019. ; it is indeed, a very encouraging trend that we will seek to reinforce in the coming months, with successive stimulus plans.
In the field of defence and security : in the continuity of the port to call of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle during the Shangri La dialogue 2019, our partnership has remained at a high level despite the Covid crisis. The Chief of Air Staff, General Lavigne, made his first visit to Singapore last February during the Singapore AirShow. Likewise, all measures have been taken to ensure that the training of Singaporean pilots on the Cazaux air base continues as normally as possible during the pandemic. It confirms the high level of trust that characterises our defence partnership, which is part of the French strategy for the Indo-Pacific. It takes also the form of joint exercises between our forces, in particular to reaffirm our commitment to International law.
Last but not least: the defence of multilateralism. In face of the crisis, the temptations of protectionism and nationalism might arise. But our two countries remain fiercely convinced that, now more than ever, we must work to consolidate multilateral institutions and reform them to become more efficient. This is why the Alliance for Multilateralism was launched in April 2019 by the French and German foreign ministers. This Alliance met several times during the crisis, with the participation of minister Balakrishnan, Singapore being one of the co-sponsors of the Alliance. At the last meeting at the end of June, the Alliance jointly supported WHO and committed to international solidarity in dealing with Covid. Our action in favour of multilateralism is also reflected in France’s application for ASEAN development partner status, which is expected to materialise in the near future and will thus deepen our action in South-East Asia.
As to opportunities for preparing together a post Covid world, Innovation, is at the heart of the recovery and transformation plans of both our countries, and remains the back bone of the France-Singapore strategic partnership.
This is first illustrated by the establishment of the Joint Committee on Science and Innovation, which was agreed at the closing of the Year of Innovation. Among the priorities of this committee, I would like to mention more specifically Artificial Intelligence. Singapore’s recent decision to join the Global Partnership in Artificial Intelligence as founding member created a strong momentum and is fully consistent with the roadmap on digital innovation, internet governance and cyber security adopted by the French President and the Singapore Prime Minister during his visit to France in July 2018. Artificial intelligence is also the field of expertise selected by CNRS within the CREATE program which is currently being prepared and will integrate three pillars: research, applications involving the private sector and governance.
Our contribution to the local ecosystem in terms of innovation is also based on a very dynamic French Tech community in Singapore. For example, more than 50 French startups actively participated last November in the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology and the Fintech Festival. BPIFrance is also a key actor and its partnership with EnterpriseSingapore is now fully operational, thanks to the co-financing of several technological collaborations. With all these players, our research institutions, our large corporations, our startups, we are more determined than ever to create with our Singaporean partners tomorrow’s jobs in the fields of health, digital economy, green finance, sustainable cities and agro-foodtech.
We are also relying on education for our future. This can be illustrated by the name changing ceremony of Lycée Français to International French School Singapore last February, with the Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs as guest of honor. This new name officially launched the internationalization of the school. I should also mention the French higher education establishments in Singapore and the increasing number of French students coming to Singapore. Welcoming international students in France is one of the priorities of the French government and therefore their visa application is now treated as a priority by our consular services. The Choose France! Education Fair, organized with Campus France, which was to be held in the spring will take place in the fall. In addition, the "France Excellence" internship program for Singaporean students will be relaunched as soon as possible as it perfectly matches the priorities of our two countries.
Finally, we want to develop more co-production and co-creation in the fields of visual arts, music and audiovisual content with Singapore. The cultural and creative industries have taken many initiatives since the start of the crisis, although they have been severely impacted. This is why we decided to support them, and despite the uncertainties, to continue the preparation of the 2020 edition of Voilah! France Singapore Festival scheduled to open on October 22. This date coincides, day to day with the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of Clemenceau Avenue, by Georges Clemenceau himself, who was on a trip to Asia. This great French statesman who has been nicknamed the "Tiger" had a fascination for Asia. How could we not commemorate his visit to the city of the Lion? There is no better symbol than Clemenceau to embody resilience and to demonstrate France’s deep friendship with Singapore, in happy times as well as in more challenging times.
I am confident that, despite the Covid crisis, our relations will continue to grow and deepen even more.
Long Live our Franco-Singaporean Friendship!
Vive la République, vive la France!
Speech by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Maliki Osman on the occasion of the French National Day Celebration (14 July 2020)
Your Excellency, Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore,
French residents in Singapore,
Our dear friends in France,
Bonjour à tous! On behalf of the government and people of Singapore, let me extend my warmest congratulations to France and her people on the occasion of France’s National Day.
This year, France and Singapore commemorate fifty five years of diplomatic relations. Our shared history however stretches back to the early foundations of modern Singapore. From the two French naturalists who accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 and lent their names to a number of Southeast Asian fauna, to the French photographer who took the very first photograph of Singapore; from the French entrepreneurs who established the first cinema, dental practice and the iconic Ayam brand of canned goods; to the pioneering efforts of French missionaries who established schools like St Joseph’s Institution and the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus - Frenchmen and women have contributed greatly to Singapore’s growth and development.
Today, this long-standing relationship, underpinned by a shared outlook that values multilateralism, global cooperation and a rules-based international order, continues to blossom under our Strategic Partnership. We continue to deepen our bilateral engagement on key pillars such as trade and investment, culture and education, and defence. We are also united by a shared desire to forge ahead on new and exciting areas such as the digital economy, artificial intelligence and innovation. As founding members of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, we also work closely to promote the responsible use of AI internationally.
At the heart of our multifaceted relationship are the strong business and people-to-people ties. Singapore hosts one of the largest French communities in the Asia-Pacific and is home to over 2,100 French companies and a growing number of French start-ups. This February, Minister Balakrishnan attended a ceremony marking the projected expansion of the International French School, a welcome sign of the continued growth of this dynamic community.
France has also been receiving more Singaporeans who choose to work, study and visit. Perhaps most surprisingly, the biggest Singapore community in France can be found not in Paris, but around the Cazaux Airbase in the south-west of France. Cazaux has hosted the RSAF Advanced Jet Training Detachment since 1998 and when I visited in 2015, I was delighted to witness the genuine friendship forged between the Singaporeans and the local community.
In the area of intercultural and people-to-people exchanges, our cooperation with France is excellent and best showcased by the annual France-Singapore Festival, Voilah! Bringing together the best of French and Singaporean talents and personalities in culture, education, and science, Voilah! has become one of the most eagerly-anticipated events in our annual cultural calendar. With the signing of a renewed Cultural Agreement last November, I believe we will see even deeper and more substantive cultural collaborations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has produced major disruptions to how we live, work, and play. Singapore and France have continued to work closely and leveraged technology to mitigate these disruptions and maintain contacts. Last month, we issued a Joint Ministerial Statement on the Supply of Food and Agricultural Products, and we are working together under the framework of the Alliance for Multilateralism to promote international cooperation. Let me also take this opportunity to thank France for assisting with the repatriation of Singaporeans stranded abroad as air travel was severely disrupted by the global spread of the pandemic.
We applaud France’s strong leadership in supporting the global fight against COVID-19, including its support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools or ACT Accelerator. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared at the Global Vaccine and the Global Goal Unite Pledging Summits last month, Singapore stands ready to partner with others to support “vaccine multilateralism” as embodied in initiatives like the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX Facility. Until a viable vaccine is found, and equitably distributed, we cannot defeat the pandemic.
As we adjust to a new normal, I assure you that the Singapore and French Governments will continue to work closely together to ensure that the interests and concerns of all our nationals – French citizens who reside in Singapore and vice versa – are addressed and taken into account.
I am confident Singapore and France will continue to stand together in solidarity and friendship to overcome whatever challenges may lie ahead. We look forward to forging an even stronger partnership between our countries and peoples in the years ahead.
Vive la France! Vive Singapour!