A programme started by Singapore in 1992 to offer technical aid to other countries marked a significant milestone yesterday, with 100,000 participants as of this year.
Mrs Shelley Nicholls-Hunte, director of the financial intelligence unit in the office of Barbados’ attorney-general, was the 100,000th participant of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP).
She received a gift and certificate yesterday from Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam during an award ceremony that was attended by 28 foreign officials from 27 countries, including Bulgaria, Cambodia and Namibia.
The primary platform through which Singapore extends technical help to over 170 countries, the programme sees more than 6,000 foreign officials attending about 300 courses and workshops each year. These cover a range of subjects including port management, civil aviation and public governance.
Mrs Nicholls-Hunte, who is attending a course on Singapore’s anti-corruption strategies, said the United Nations has required all countries to focus more on anti-corruption, noting that it was “very timely” that the Singapore Government is “providing opportunities for us to learn from each other”.
The programme has adapted to meet changing needs around the world, and now addresses emerging issues such as sustainable development, cyber and food security, and social governance.
Mr Shanmugam said: “In the 1960s and 70s, we were a small island with no natural resources or hinterland. Thankfully, we had friends from around the world, from whom we received tremendous help… Now, we share our own development experience with our friends around the world.”
The top five recipient countries of the SCP’s help are Vietnam, China, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
While Asean may be the programme’s priority, it also attracts participants from regions including Africa and the Caribbean.
Mr Ned Howard, from the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Transport, attended the Singapore-Pacific Ministerial Study Visit organised by the SCP in 2012. He said: “Singapore is a small island, (but) we are much smaller than Singapore… We certainly can learn a lot more from the way Singapore operates.”
Mr Ismat Aburabee, of the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau from the Palestinian National Authority, noted that Singapore is very developed and organised as a result of “the cooperation between the people and the Government of Singapore”.
Mr Shanmugam said participants complimented Singapore on its rapid development, orderly system and harmonious nature of its multiracial and multi-religious society.
“They are impressed that a small country with no natural resources… has been able to achieve this level of development in such a short time,” he said.