Singapore reiterates commitment to building efforts for Palestinian National Authority

Call on Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (R) by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli (L) at the sidelines of CEAPAD II.

JAKARTA - Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, delivered a speech Saturday, Mar 1, 2014, at the second Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for the Palestinian Development (CEAPAD II).

In his speech, Mr Masagos reiterated Singapore's commitment to assist the Palestinian National Authority's capacity building efforts.

He noted that Singapore had hosted a study visit by a delegation led by then-Palestinian Minister of Education Lamis Al Alami in Jun 2013.

Singapore is also working with the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission to organise a study visit to Singapore.

Mr Masagos also called on Palestinian Prime Minister His Excellency Rami Hamdallah at the sidelines of CEAPAD II.

PM Hamdallah expressed his appreciation for Singapore's enhanced technical assistance package for Palestinian development which was announced at the inaugural CEAPAD meeting.

Mr Masagos welcomed more Palestinian officials to visit Singapore under the enhanced package.

Singapore remained happy to share its developmental experience in areas which may be relevant.

PM Hamdallah and Mr Masagos also had a good exchange of views on potential areas of cooperation, including water management and public administration.

Here is the speech by Mr Masagos:

Statement by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli at the Second Conference on Cooperation Among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development, Jakarta, March 1, 2014

Mr Co-Chairmen,

Following the inaugural Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development or CEAPAD in short, which was held in Tokyo last year, Singapore is pleased to participate in the second CEAPAD. I join my colleagues in expressing our sincere appreciation to Indonesia for hosting the second Conference and for its hospitality.

Singapore values our good relations with the Palestinian National Authority and remains committed to assist in its capacity-building efforts. We have been sharing our developmental experiences with Palestinian officials since the 1990s in areas, such as good governance, public administration and urban planning through our Singapore Cooperation Programme. We have also made available courses at the Asia-Middle East Dialogue regional training centres in Qatar and Jordan for Palestinian participants. The Asia-Middle East Dialogue was initiated by Singapore to promote linkages between Asia and the Middle East. We hope that there will be a higher take-up rate for these courses. We have also offered scholarships to Palestinian officials to support human resource development. We believe this is the best way for a small country like Singapore to be helpful.

During the inaugural CEAPAD in Tokyo last year, I announced Singapore' s enhanced technical assistance package for the Palestinian National Authority worth five million Singapore dollars over five years. I am delighted to note that the enhanced package has been well received by the Palestinians. Then-Palestinian Minister of Education Lamis Al Alami led a delegation on a study visit to Singapore in June 2013 under this enhanced package. During the visit, Minister Al Alami had the opportunity to visit the various education institutions and exchange views with her counterpart on Singapore's education system. I personally had the pleasure to host Minister Al Alami to lunch where I shared how our education system integrated the use of technology with our pedagogy. I am happy to note that the feedback from the delegation was positive. Following the visit, further training requests were made and we offered a customised education training package for the Palestinians comprising study visits and training courses to cover vocational education pedagogy, and leadership development for educators, as well as postgraduate scholarships. Three senior Palestinian education officials subsequently attended an executive course on Leadership in Education under the customised package.

Another area in which Singapore is happy to share our experience is in the area of anti-corruption. We are currently working with the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission to organise a study visit to Singapore. As part of this study visit, we look forward to also exchanging views on combating cybercrimes which has become increasingly important in today's modern society. We look forward to welcoming more visits by Palestinian officials to Singapore in areas which are relevant under the enhanced technical assistance package. Singapore hopes that by sharing our developmental experiences, the lessons we have learned can be passed on and contextualised according to Palestinian needs.

Beyond our bilateral engagement, Singapore also capitalises on our partnerships with other major aid agencies and International Organisations to support the capacity-building efforts of the Palestinian National Authority. For example, many Palestinian officials had attended training programmes in subjects such as public administration and healthcare under the Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century (JSPP21).

Let me conclude by reiterating that Singapore remains committed to assist the Palestinian National Authority in its capacity-building efforts. We have established a direct channel of communication at the officials-level and we hope to accelerate the pace of engagement in the months ahead. Ultimately, we hope that the sharing of Singapore's experience and our technical assistance will benefit the Palestinian people as they work towards the goal of an independent state under the framework of a two-state solution.

Thank you.

spanaech@sph.com.sg