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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the Singapore Consulate-General in Medan’s National Day Reception

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the Singapore Consulate-General in Medan’s National Day Reception

Distinguished guests, 
Fellow Singaporeans, 
Ladies and Gentlemen

1 Good evening. I am honoured to be celebrating Singapore’s 54th National Day with all of you. 

2 This is my first official visit to Medan. I have been told by many people that Medanese are famous for your warmth and hospitality, and I am happy to say that this is absolutely true. Earlier today, I had the pleasure of meeting Governor of North Sumatra Bapak Edy Rahmayadi, and also the Vice Mayor of Medan Bapak Akhyar Nasution. We had very good discussions on relations between Singapore and North Sumatra, or Sumut, and we explored ways to strengthen cooperation in various areas.  

3 Singapore and Indonesia have a long-standing friendship and deep historical ties. Sumatra, by virtue of proximity, features particularly prominently in Singapore’s history. Many centuries earlier, the Srivijaya Empire ushered in the trade, diversity and multiculturalism that predated the founding of modern Singapore, with Prince Sang Nila Utama’s arrival in 1299. He set foot on Temasek, he saw a lion, ‘singa’, and he named it Singapura. That’s how we have our name today, Singapore. We commemorated this milestone, which marked two hundred years since the founding of modern Singapore - and our history of more than 700 years of relationship - at our National Day just last week. We were very honoured to have hosted President Jokowi and Ibu Iriana at our Bicentennial Parade, which demonstrated the enduring friendship between our two countries.

4 Singapore’s ties with Sumut are deep and multifaceted. On the economic front, Singapore has been the largest foreign investor in Indonesia since 2014 and we are also Sumut’s top foreign investor, with realised investments of USD 717 million in 2018. Many Singapore companies are operating in Medan, across the fields of F&B, retail, manufacturing, and more. Earlier today, I visited COHIVE at Clapham - and I saw some of the friends that we met this morning. It is a co-working space which Enterprise Singapore is working with to facilitate the entry of Singapore SMEs and start-ups into Sumut. I was heartened to hear from the Singaporean entrepreneurs who are working there of their positive experiences working alongside and learning from their Indonesian peers in Sumut.

5 The excellent people-to-people ties between Singapore and Sumut are evident as well. Many Singaporeans like to take holiday in Sumut – and it is no surprise why that is the case. The province is beautiful. Lake Toba in particular, is one of the “Ten New Balis” that President Jokowi has set the vision for. It is a major draw. But there are many other attractions in Sumut besides Lake Toba. Our people also have a shared love for food. I understand that many Singaporeans visit Medan as this is a paradise for good food and it has some of the best street food in the region. Our people also have a shared love for durians! Last night, I went to Sibolang Durian, and I had the chance to try the Sumatran durian which was very nice. 

6 I hope that we will build on this strong foundation of cooperation, and I am confident that there is much more that Singapore and Sumut can do together, at all levels. I encourage our youth to continue to build links, learn from each other, and create opportunities together. There is also much potential to deepen collaboration in the fields of tourism, and in addressing common challenges that urban centres like Singapore and Medan face. All of you present here today have been good friends of the Singapore-Sumut relationship, and I trust that with your continued support, relations between Singapore and Sumut – and as well as between Singapore and Indonesia – can continue to flourish, can continue to deepen, and can continue to grow from strength to strength.

7 With that, I would like to thank Singapore’s Consul-General in Medan Richard Grosse and his team for their tireless work over the past year strengthening ties between Singapore and Sumut, and of course, for this lovely reception that we are having this evening. I wish all of you a wonderful evening, and to my fellow Singaporeans, a happy National Day. I look forward to chatting with all of you, and I look forward to meeting our friends from Indonesia and other countries. Thank you very much.

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