Senior Parliamentary Secretary (SPS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Ministry of Trade and Industry, Dr Tan Wu Meng, visited Bali, Indonesia from 5 to 6 December 2018 to attend the 11th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF). The BDF was initiated by Indonesia in 2008 as an annual multilateral forum for countries to share experiences and best practices in fostering democracy in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
In line with the theme of this year’s conference, “Democracy for Prosperity”, SPS Tan delivered a statement at the General Debate on Singapore’s experience in pursuing inclusive and sustainable development. The full text of SPS Tan’s statement is appended below.
On the side-lines of the BDF, SPS Tan met Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi. SPS Tan and Minister Retno reaffirmed the close and mutually-beneficial relations between Singapore and Indonesia. They noted the successful outcomes of the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat that was held in Bali, Indonesia on 11 October 2018. SPS Tan and Minister Retno looked forward to further deepening bilateral cooperation, as well as regional cooperation through ASEAN.
SPS Tan returns to Singapore on 6 December 2018.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
6 DECEMBER 2018
STATEMENT BY SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY, DR TAN WU MENG, AT THE 11TH BALI DEMOCRACY FORUM, 6 DECEMBER 2018
His Excellency A. M. Fachir, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon to all. Let me first express my appreciation to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and the people of Bali for their warm and generous hospitality.
2. Since its inception in 2008, the Bali Democracy Forum has been an important platform for countries to share experiences and exchange ideas on building democratic societies. This is based on our shared belief that no two countries are completely alike; there is no one-size-fits-all approach to democratic governance. Yet amidst our differences, we all share the same goal – to improve the welfare and lives of our peoples.
3. This year’s theme, “Democracy for Prosperity”, is timely. We meet at a time of international economic uncertainty and heightened trade tensions. Globalisation is under strain; nationalism and protectionism is on the rise. Technology has improved how we live and work. But when unfettered, it can lead to adverse outcomes. These developments have implications for all countries, whether big or small. We thus have to work together to identify common ground and confront common challenges.
4. As a small country, Singapore strives to build a nation of opportunities. The odds were stacked against us when independence was thrust upon us in 1965. But through the determined efforts of our pioneer generation, we laid the foundation for a strong economy and built better lives for all Singaporeans. However, economic growth alone is not and cannot be the only answer to our efforts to build a fair and equitable society.
5. I will share from Singapore’s experience.
6. First, Singapore continues to work towards a more inclusive vision of meritocracy that embraces and celebrates the diverse range of our citizens’ talents and skills; an inclusive meritocracy grounded in the values of fairness and equality. We believe in the idea that, through hard work and ability, you can shape your own destiny; that you can find your strengths and realise your full potential. Your future and access to opportunities should not be determined by your race, religion, gender or social class.
7. Second, as a multi-racial and multi-religious society, we have strived to expand the common space for all Singaporeans. We believe that the manifestation of democracy should strengthen our social fabric, and not tear us apart. The government takes a firm stance against freedom of expression being misused to spread intolerance. This is especially relevant today. Many countries, including Singapore, continue to battle “fake news” and other misinformation campaigns. The media landscape today has shown us that the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is not immune from market failure.
8. Third, we are harnessing technology to make public service delivery more accessible. For example, we launched an application called OneService. With it, residents can report municipal issues with just a snap of a photo. And the software is continually being improved. By seeing through the eyes of the people, planners and implementers will ensure inclusive participation, even as e-governance finds new frontiers.
9. Lastly, to achieve sustainable growth, our citizens must be able to keep up with global trends. Singapore has embarked on a national movement to encourage life-long learning. In particular, the SkillsFuture programme helps all Singaporeans upgrade and re-skill, regardless of age, or which stage of a career. In this way, our people can be equipped with the right skills to meet challenges and achieve success in the future economy.
10. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to discuss how we can collectively work towards “Democracy for Prosperity”. We must remember that it is our responsibility as governments, communities, and individuals to ensure that nobody is left behind. With collective commitment and concerted effort, we can create a more secure and prosperous future for all our peoples.
11. I wish the Bali Democracy Forum every success. Thank you.
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Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Ministry of Trade and Industry Dr Tan Wu Meng’s bilateral meeting with Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi [Photo credit: MFA]
Group photograph at the 11th Bali Democracy Forum [Photo credit: MFA]