YANGON: Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrived in Yangon on Wednesday for the second part of his five-day state visit to Myanmar.
Dr Tan met some 200 Singaporeans living and working in Yangon, and praised them for helping to boost bilateral ties.
He said Singaporeans in Myanmar play an important role in helping to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.
He added that the links established and the friendships the Singaporeans formed here act as a boost for people-to-people ties, and this helps cement the long-standing relationship with Myanmar.
Dr Tan said: "Our overseas Singaporeans play a crucial role in furthering Singapore's relations with the countries in which they are living and working. The Singaporean community in Myanmar is no exception. Some of you have been here for decades, while others moved here recently. All of you help to strengthen the friendship between Singapore and Myanmar through the work that you do."
Singaporeans living in Myanmar are glad that Dr Tan acknowledged their contributions and they believe more can be done.
Wilson Lee, CEO of Pinnacle Development & Engineering, said: "Not only are we ambassadors to our country, we also open up a lot of opportunities for other Singaporeans that is to come later on. So I think this relationship that we're building here will last a very very long time to come."
Many said the President's visit is also timely, given the increased interest in Myanmar.
Christopher Chong, director of Phee International Shipping Myanmar, said: "The President's visit to Yangon sends a very clear message to the business community, both locally and internationally, that the Singapore government is interested and it looks forward to building and broadening the scope of business that's already being done in the country."
KBZ Bank's executive director of international banking division, Hoe Bee Choo, said: "He comes at a time where I think we need Singaporeans to be here, companies, individuals to bring this country called Myanmar up to a certain level where we can proudly say we help Myanmar grow up,"
Meanwhile, Al Noor International Singapore’s managing director Sheikh Babu Nooruddin said Dr Tan visit will "definitely make the bond more closer and also to improve more business both from Singapore and Myanmar side."
For many Singaporeans in Myanmar, this is the first time they are meeting the President in person. This may also be the only time they will have an opportunity to meet with him. This also allows the President to learn more about the concerns of Singaporeans living here and what life is like.
Dr Tan also visited the Martyrs' Mausoleum to lay a wreath as a mark of respect. The Martyrs' Mausoleum is a memorial set up to honour the nine national heroes of Myanmar, including General Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Dr Tan is expected to officially open the International Enterprise, or IE Singapore office, on Thursday.
He will also meet some Singapore Business Federation members who have arrived in Yangon for a trade mission and a business forum. - CNA/de
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