|The year just past has been a good one for the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, with our established programs continuing to grow, and new initiatives being started. Allow me to share briefly about our three priority programs.
First, our long-standing ASEAN program has reached a new level. We served in 2014 as advisor to the Myanmar government on their ASEAN chairmanship and were engaged at both the ASEAN Summit and Business Summit. In the course of this work, we engaged consistently with the government and have come to know the Myanmar society and economy better. We organized an Investment Forum in Yangon in 2015 with two leading Singaporean advisory firms and the Union of Myanmar Federation Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Back in Singapore, our ASEAN and Asia Forum was honored to have U Soe Thane, the Myanmar Coordinating Minister for the Economy, deliver the keynote.
On ASEAN overall, we also continue to work on key issues facing the group with the upcoming timeline for ASEAN Community, especially in respect of economic integration and the key institutional changes needed. The SIIA issued two significant policy briefs and also shared our analyses of the ASEAN Economic Community at key business meetings in the region.
Second, our work on sustainability has moved ahead strongly, with the haze – caused by forest and plantation fires – in special focus. Our new Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources, held for the first time in May 2014, brings a focus on sustainability to key stakeholders in this sector – with key decision makers in corporations that deal in resources and their customers and financiers, together with governments and non-government organizations in the region. At end 2014, we also organized the first public exhibition in Singapore on the haze, back-to-back with a forum among non-governmental organizations and experts working closely on this issue.
Third, our effort to help Singapore deliberate our 50-year-future in Asia and the World – which we call “F50” -- gathers momentum with the 50th anniversary of our country. First launched in 2013, this SIIA effort has featured discussions and talks on key issues and, from end 2014, we are working with the support of the government’s SG50 effort to bring in more international experts to join in this discussion from their perspectives. Looking forward, we aim that the F50 will culminate with our report in July 2015, as the SIIA’s contribution to our nation’s celebration of its Jubilee, and a deliberation about our future directions.
As chairman, I am proud to report that the quality of the SIIA’s work in these program areas is gaining wider recognition. For the third year in a row, a global survey done by an American university continues to rank the SIIA among the leading think tanks in the region, and the no 1 think tank in Singapore.
When I was first nominated as chairman in 1999, the SIIA was in deficit and with few programs and members. I therefore wish to thank our members, Council, advisors, friends, sponsors and our SIIA team; both current and past, for their efforts in helping the SIIA grow and reach the current level.
Looking ahead, I hope the SIIA will further develop. We plan to further develop the impact and quality of our programs and events and to also grow our ability to attract more members who have interest in international and regional issues. As chairman, I also aim to further strengthen the SIIA as a civic institution with a capable and skilled professional team, and to increase our membership and grow our institutional revenues and sustainability.
The term of the current SIIA Council will expire with the Annual General Meeting of 2015. While some of us will continue to offer to serve the SIIA from 2015-17, please allow me to thank the members of the Council and the advisors for their volunteer help and dedication over the past two years, and all our members for their participation and support.
- Simon Tay, Chairman, SIIA