[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Friday, September 15, 2006

[Intervention at the Non Aligned Meeting in Havana]
1. Mr Chairman, allow me first to thank Malaysia and my good friend, Syed Hamid, for Malaysia’s able leadership of NAM in the last three years.

2. Let me also congratulate you, Sir, for taking over the chair. Since the last time Cuba was in the chair, the world has changed dramatically. The Cold War is over. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, bipolarity became, for a while, uni-polarity, but that is inexorably giving way to a multi-polar world.

3. Ideology has become much less important. All of us are committed to democracy in one form or another. With globalisation and rapid advances in technology, we need each other as never before. Without solidarity, and in its essence this is what our Movement is about, we cannot solve many of the challenges which confront us collectively like protection of the environment, the fight against diseases and terrorism, non-proliferation and inter-faith and inter-ethnic harmony.

4. We have to respect diversity. But we also need solidarity. It is the tension between diversity and solidarity which is the very lifeforce of NAM.

5. The central issue before us is human development. With the widespread availability of mobile phones and the Internet, with knowledge so easily accessible in all four corners of our world, we have the possibility now to uplift the lives of people living in every continent. There is no reason why the rapid development we now see in China, India and elsewhere in Asia could not spread to other parts of the world.

6. We need peace of course before development is possible. For there to be peace, there has to be compromise and goodwill. We certainly need compromise and goodwill in the Middle East, for there to be a 2-state solution in Palestine and peace in Iraq. Despite our disagreements here in NAM, I am glad that, on many issues, we are prepared to compromise in the interest of solidarity. We need to compromise too in the UN and in the WTO. For example, it is not in the interest of any of us to see the Doha Round collapse. Globalisation and the international trading system can greatly facilitate our development. In this regard, we join all our NAM colleagues every year in the UN in calling for an early end to the US embargo on Cuba.

7. Despite the US embargo, it is remarkable how Cuba has been able to make such progress in recent years. After going through a very difficult period in the early 90’s, the Cuban economy has recovered its strength and is now better diversified.

8. Mr Chairman, I took the opportunity of your hospitality to arrive a few days earlier in Havana for a bilateral visit. Although Singapore took a very different path of development from Cuba from the beginning, there are some important values that we share. The most obvious is the emphasis put on education and healthcare, and the full development of our people as individual human beings. What Cuba has been able to achieve in universal education, in reducing infant mortality and in increasing the life-spans of its citizens is an inspiration to all of us. 3 days ago, I visited your Health Ministry and I thanked your Health Minister for agreeing to assist Singapore in the control of dengue which is endemic in both our regions. There is much that we can benefit through greater cooperation.

9. In a sense, the friendship between Singapore and Cuba, despite clear differences in our political systems, expresses the NAM ideal. Among the 118 countries of NAM, we do not expect to agree on everything. We will always have different beliefs and political systems. But we can cooperate on the basis of mutual interest and human solidarity. And let us always give the highest emphasis to people-centred development so that every child can grow up living to his fullest potential.

10 Thank you, Mr Chairman.

2 Comments:

Blogger AA said...

Minister sir, I would just like to say that I find it most interesting reading your blog entries. However, I would like to suggest the possibility of setting up your own blog instead of riding on this one. No offence to Ephraim but honestly I come here solely to read posts from you and not about dragonboat training, toy cars or stuff like that. Something like georgeyeo.blogspot.com would be great!

Saturday, September 16, 2006 2:38:00 am

 
Blogger Ephraim Loy said...

Thank you aa for the suggestion. I will convey your idea to Minister and see what transpires. Meanwhile, do continue to support this site.

Saturday, September 16, 2006 3:43:00 pm

 

Post a Comment

<< Home