Remarks by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Ceremony of the Presentation of the Key to Mexico City hosted by Head of Government of Mexico City, Dr Miguel Ángel Mancera, on Friday, 10 June 2016 at the Antiguo Palacio Del Ayuntamiento, Mexico City

Your Excellency Dr Miguel Ángel Mancera

Head of Government of Mexico City              

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for your warm welcome and Your Excellency’s kind remarks about Singapore.  It is a great honour and privilege for me to be the first President of Singapore to make a State Visit to Mexico, and to receive the Key to Mexico City.  I am also pleased that my visit coincides with the commemoration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Mexico, which were established on 22 December 1975.

Let me also express Singapore’s deep appreciation to Dr Mancera for the Mexico City government’s generous gift of one of the iconic “Wings of the City” sculptures by Mexican sculptor Jorge Marin to Singapore last year, in commemoration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence.  It was a most meaningful gift that symbolises the alliance of people and culture across borders, and a testament of the strong friendship between Mexico and Singapore.

I last visited Mexico in 1991 when I was Singapore’s Education Minister. Mexico City was a very different place then.  Similar to Singapore at that time, Mexico City faced many challenges that accompanied urbanisation, including sustainable growth, affordable housing, transport management, and water management.  Since then, Mexico City has been dramatically transformed, and has made great strides in becoming a liveable city.  Today, both Singapore and Mexico City are vibrant, international cities that have firmly embraced progress, development, and sustainability.  This convergence of interests is why the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Singapore and Mexico signed an MOU on International Development Cooperation earlier today to develop triangular cooperation programmes.

Of course, cities are not just about buildings, vehicles, and municipal services.  Cities are alive because of their people, and their unique identities and heritage.  In this regard, my wife and I have been impressed by the green spaces in your city, such as Chapultepec Park, which I understand is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere.  We also noticed many unexpected reminders of home, including the beautiful jacaranda trees around Mexico City, which are also common in Singapore; and zapote fruit from roadside carts, which we know as chiku in Singapore.

This week, in conjunction with my visit, a Singapore Film Festival is taking place in Mexico City at the Cineteca Nacional.  This is the first Singapore Film Festival to be held in Mexico and showcases some of the very best of Singaporean film.  Given your people’s love for film, the Film Festival is a wonderful opportunity for you to catch a glimpse of Singapore’s diverse culture and our unique multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.

On the economic front, International Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation, PROMEXICO, and the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment, and Technology (COMCE) have organised a series of business events over the past two days to discuss trade and investment opportunities between Mexico and Singapore.  These activities showcase the breadth of the relationship between our countries.  I am confident that they will mark the beginning of a new and productive partnership in the years ahead.

Let me end by once again thanking Dr Mancera for this great honour of being hosted to this Ceremony today.  I hope to welcome Your Excellency to Singapore soon.  I am confident that we will be able to advance the relationship between Mexico City and Singapore.

Muchas Gracias.