Welcome Remarks by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the reception for overseas Singaporeans in Norway on Sunday, 9 October 2016, 5.00pm at The Grand Hotel Mirror Hall in Oslo, Norway

Fellow Singaporeans and Friends

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening

Mrs Tan and I are delighted to be in Norway and to spend this first day of our visit meeting all of you.  I am honoured to be the first President of Singapore to make a State Visit to Norway.  Singapore and Norway are old friends and strong partners.  You may be surprised to know that King Harald and Queen Sonja have been to Singapore on three occasions, twice before they acceded to the throne and once during their State Visit to Singapore in 2004.  We were also delighted to welcome Prime Minister Erna Solberg when she visited Singapore in April 2016.  I look forward to my meetings with them in the next few days. 

This State Visit will showcase Singapore’s strong links with Norway in various sectors, including economic and maritime cooperation, as well as strong cooperation between our universities and research institutions.  During this visit, 12 agreements and MOUs will be signed across various sectors, underscoring the interest on both Singapore and Norway to expand ties even further.  I am also glad that a Norway-Singapore Chamber of Commerce was recently set up in Oslo which will further strengthen ties between the two countries.  Norway is Singapore’s 8th largest European trading partner and 5th largest European investor.  We certainly have many opportunities to explore, which is why I am accompanied by a business delegation led by the Singapore Business Federation.  I wish them a very fruitful time here in Norway.

Singapore is more than 10,000 kilometres from Norway.  I am therefore pleased to see so many of you at this reception today.   Whether you are in Norway for work or for an exchange, all of you play an important role in bridging the large physical separation between Singapore and Norway with the warmth of people to people ties. I am confident that the agreements signed on the occasion of this visit will pave the way for more of such exchanges in the future.  

Even as you live or work in Norway, I encourage you to continue keeping up your ties with Singapore and your families and friends back home.  Against the majestic landforms, glaciers and fjords of Norway, a small tropical island such as Singapore may not immediately come to mind.  But with technology, home is just one tap away on your smartphone, be it through social media or news channels.  I also hope that this reception today can be the start of a regular get-together, whether to catch up with familiar faces, or simply to satisfy your craving for food from home through a potluck.  I understand that all of you are present here today through informal word of mouth, so please take the opportunity to exchange contacts.  Special thanks go to those who have made their way here from cities outside of Oslo.

Singapore celebrated 50 years of independence last year, and now looks forward to the next 50 years and beyond.  We need to build on what we have achieved as a nation.   Overseas Singaporeans like yourselves play an important part in this journey as ambassadors of Singapore.  I wish all of you continued success in all your endeavours, and hope that you will stay in touch with Singapore.  Mrs Tan and I look forward to hearing about your experiences in Norway when we interact later. 

Thank you.