Lee terms PM’s visit a good opportunity to strength partnership

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 ISTANA, Mar 12, 2018 (BSS) – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong today said his first official meeting with Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina in Singapore has created a good opportunity to strengthen partnership between the two countries.

Singapore-based companies are keen on the growing Bangladeshi market as significant opportunities are laying there in energy and port sectors, he said this while speaking at a luncheon hosted by him in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at his official residence Istana.

Lee Hsein said Sembcorp is one of the largest investors in the energy sector with over US$ 1.1 billion investment in power plants and the Singapore Port Authorities (PSA) are interested to explore opportunities in Chittagong Port.

Mentioning that Bangladesh is located in the heart of South Asia and well positioned to interact with ASEAN and it neighbours, he said the Bay of Bengal links to the Southeast Asia, India, and Sri Lanka.

The Singaporean Prime Minister hoped that the singing of the updated Air Services Agreement between Singapore and Bangladesh would bring the people and businesses of the two countries closer and also help bring bilateral relations to greater heights.

“We should do more together as the government can facilitate collaboration between our companies and investors,” he said.

The close friendship and growing partnership between Bangladesh and Singapore would be strengthened in the years to come, he added.

Recalling that Singapore was the first ASEAN country to formally recognise Bangladesh after liberation in 1971, Lee Hsein said since then the ties between the leaders, people and businesses of the two countries have been growing steadily.

He also recalled his last meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of Asian-African Summit in Jakarta in 2005.

The Singaporean Prime Minister said the longstanding friendship is reinforced by rich cultural ties. “Rabindranath Tagore visited Singapore in the 1920s and Tagore’s reflections and travelogues of the Southeast Asia were published as ‘Jatri’ in 1929.”

He said the Tagore Avenue, along Yio Chu Kang Road, which is also his parliamentary constituency, is named in honour of the great Bengali poet. Tagore’s works continue to bring generations of Singapore and Bangladesh together through an appreciation of shared culture and heritage, he said.

“We see this literary exchange between the people of the two countries today,” Lee Hsein said, noting that the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore partnered Bangler Kantho in 2015 to launch six collections of poetry at ‘An Evening of Migrant Poetry and Music-Poems of Migrations: Joys and Sorrows’.

In the words of one of the poets, Zakir Hossain Khokon, a Bangladeshi construction supervisor who has been working in Singapore since 2003, made up a “Poetic Biography” of Bangladeshis here, Lee Hsein said.

Khokon is a freelance journalist for Bangler Kantho and continues to write about his experience in Singapore.

“Strong people-to-people linkage has formed a key basis for our multifaceted relationship,” Lee Hsein noted.

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