The Embassy of France celebrates Bastille Day [fr]
The Embassy of France in Singapore had the honor to host, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, Dr Chia Shi Lu and Ms Foo Mee Har, Members of Parliament, on the occasion of Bastille Day celebration on 14th July. More than 600 guests and officials attended the reception at the Clifford Pier.
French Ambassador Marc Abensour delivering his speech on 14th July 2017
© Anne Valluy
© Anne Valluy
© Anne Valluy
© Anne Valluy
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me and my wife, Veronica, great pleasure and honour to warmly welcome you to this celebration of France’s National Day.
We are gathered here to commemorate the anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille, and to mark the close relationship that has united Singapore and France for more than 50 years.
What are we to remember today of this anniversary?
Possibly and above all, two ideas that continue to guide the French people unceasingly through the ups and downs of the nation’s history and the challenges of today and the futur : the deep aspiration of liberty and progress and, a desire for fraternity and unity.
This would explain why we commemorate both 1789 and 1790 each year ;
Because it is the moment of revolution, of emancipation, of the affirmation of the sovereignty and freedom of our people ; and because it is the celebration of a united France.
No one expresses the sentiment of this founding moment better than Michelet ; « An idea arose in the day in Paris and all saw the same light. A light in the spirits, and in each heart a voice : Go, and you will storm the Bastille.
This was impossible, insane, what a strange thing to say… but all believed nontheless. And it was done ».
2017 has proven intense and decisive for our country – and I am referring in particular to the Presidential and Legislative Elections. This year, we continue to pursue these aspirations to progress and unity. Today, we feel energised, renewed by a growing confidence in ourselves, and our country is thus more poised and ready to defend our values vigorously. These values touch on national solidarity, republican secularism and the spirit of initiative, responsibility and openness.
In an increasingly uncertain world, where the temptation to be inward looking and to build walls and barriers cannot be discounted, these values, upon which France is built, become even more indispensable. It is in this spirit that our country intends to strive hard to revive the European dream, to face the climate challenge and the migration crisis, and to invent the future.
However, as we know, inventing the future, the future that we want for the generations to come and for the planet, can but only be a shared project of openness between nations and peoples. And it is for this very reason that Singapore is a strategic and trustworthy partner for France in this period of major changes.
Successive high level visits continue to take place between our two countries. The recent visit to Singapore in March of the former French president, the first such state visit from France, reaffirmed the dynamism of our strategic partnership.
Singapore and France share a common goal on multilateralism and global governance (Singapore was invited to the G20 for the first time on a proposal from France in 2010). We are both like-minded on many issues and strongly committed to a rule-based international system, Free Trade and sustainable development.
In the economic arena, French companies are increasingly choosing Singapore as a regional base. Over 800 companies and 330 French entrepreneurs employ more than 40,000 people in Singapore.
The City State attracts 60% of French direct investment in South-East Asia and is our largest trading partner in the region. Our cross (border) investments are on the rise, attesting to the mutual trust that distinguishes our bilateral relations.
Singapore is also a key partner of France in the area of defence and security. We will celebrate in 2018 the 20th anniversary of the training school for Singaporean fighter pilots located at the airbase in Cazaux. The French ministers for defence attend every Shangri La dialogue. And France, as a maritime power in the Indo-Pacific, is willing to contribute to regional security, alongside Singapore and the neighbouring ASEAN countries, whether in peacekeeping operations, maritime security or counter-terrorism. Let me also highlight the rapidly evolving and promising collaboration between our police forces.
The density of our scientific and cultural cooperation has been greatly enhanced through Voilah and other key events. Over six weeks, french creativity and innovation in culture, arts, gastronomy and science were on display through Voilah and attracted a large audience. Voilah is now a highlight in Singapore’s cultural calendar. We are now preparing for the upcoming exhibition on “Impressionist masterpieces of the Musée d’Orsay” to be held at the National Gallery in November, and for the French film festival.
Our relationship is characterised by a tangible cross cultural exchange between our nationals, in and outside of business circles. More than 14,000 French nationals live in Singapore, making this the third largest French community in Asia, a community that is young, dynamic, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, reflecting the French people’s faith in the future of Singapore.
The fundamentals are thus excellent. But the strength of our partnership is not limited to these valuable assets. Today, we are embarking on a new project, a project which will take our relationship another step forward : 2018, the Year of Innovation between France and Singapore.
To rise to the challenge created by economic changes and to retain a competitive edge, Singapore and France invest massively in research. Both countries also support entrepreneurship in innovative sectors. France is ranked third worldwide for innovation, with 10 out of the 100 most innovative companies in the world. With the support of government officials, including the French president himself, and tech leaders, the startup economy is now booming in France, with over 9400 tech startups.
I would like to explain in a nutshell what French innovation is. French innovation is an amalgam of three components: scientific and technological excellence (our engineers), creativity (our designers) and responsability (our entrepreneurs who strike a balance between economic success and social and environmental progress). And the ingenious part is our ability to make all three work together, and I stress “together”, because the most important thing is this new type of collaborative approach.
With the 2018 Year of Innovation, our ambition is to develop the Franco-Singaporean innovation ecosystem, to reinforce the synergies between universities, research centres and industries, and to elevate our two countries’ attractiveness. We want to establish more efficient structures to encourage startups to grow and work together. It is with this in mind that we created the French Tech Hub in Singapore, a brainchild of French entrepreneurs in Singapore, and Business France.
The 2018 Year of Innovation will be based on key sectors:
Smart City : Singapore with the “Smart Nation” initiative is the world reference on the subject, an initiative that already involves French expertise on virtual city planning, green transportation or energy networks;
Health and Ageing : French industry is making significant contributions to this sector, such as the setting up of the SmartHealth platform by the French Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the CNRS participation in the “Silver” project at CREATE, run by the NRF, will improve the well-being of the elderly with new technologies;
Fintech: the agreement signed between our central banks will facilitate transactions and financial access, with increasingly secured data encryption.
Digital Economy with links between our startups and incubators, possibly through exchange programmes. We are delighted that the first Singaporean startup will soon join “Station F”, the world’s biggest startup campus recently opened in Paris;
I should also mention two other key segments : advanced manufacturing to achieve the smart factory of the future and last but not least, education and training to increase mobility between our researchers and engineers, including through a partnership with A*Star.
Minister, Ladies and gentlemen, I am certain that this Year of Innovation can make a difference. I came to Singapore less than a year ago, yet I was struck right from the beginning by how much Singapore and France share the same boldness in tackling challenges, the same concern for independence, the same approach in terms of global governance. That is why I am confident that our two countries are ready to embrace changes and will know how to jointly promote a model of innovation which is both responsible and inclusive.
We can draw strength from our collective successes and through the dynamism of the French community and the vibrancy of Singapore’s ecosystem.
The Year of Innovation involves every single person, Singaporean or French, and I know that we each can, in our own capacity, make an invaluable contribution to this exciting undertaking. Let the invention of the future begin!
Let us now listen to Singapore’s National Anthem.
And now, minister, ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to propose a toast to His Excellency, the president of the Republic of Singapore.