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Speech By Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Finance & Minister for Manpower, At 31st Singapore Lecture By Chancellor Of The Federal Republic of Germany Dr Angela Merkel

02 Jun 2011

The Honourable Dr Angela Merkel
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany


Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.         I would like to welcome all of you to the 31st Singapore Lecture.

2.         Madam Chancellor, it is our pleasure and our honour to have you with us this morning. On behalf of the organisers, I thank you for agreeing to deliver the Singapore Lecture on the occasion of your first official visit to Singapore as Chancellor. Singapore greatly values your insights, as leader of one of the most economically and technologically advanced, and socially progressive countries in the world.

3.         Your lecture comes at a challenging time for the world. The global economy is in much better shape than it was two years ago, but we are seeing a long and difficult transition to healthy levels of output and employment in many advanced economies. The US faces rising public debt, still weak household balance sheets and high unemployment. Within the European Union, sovereign debt problems in the periphery remain a source of considerable uncertainty. We have witnessed the emergence of the 'Arab Spring' that has brought winds of change sweeping through the Middle East and the Maghreb. And the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors has intensified debate on nuclear safety throughout the world.

4.         In the midst of these challenges, Germany's fundamental strengths have been a stabilising force, namely its fiscal responsibility, a skilled and competitive workforce, sustainable growth, and Germany's support for democracy and other universal values.

5.         There is a lot that Singapore has learnt from Germany over the last four decades, and there is more to learn. Among other features of the German economy, its Mittelstaende or small and medium sized enterprises remain prime examples of how continuous investment in skills, innovation and R&D creates world-beating performance, even against lower cost challengers.

6.         Chancellor Merkel's visit to Singapore reflects demonstrates the strength of the bilateral relationship between our two countries. The level of co-operation is deep and wide-ranging, and includes science and research, environmental technology, and culture. Germany is also a major investor in Singapore.

7.         Madam Chancellor, you have continually demonstrated your commitment towards European integration and the transatlantic partnership. You played a leading role in brokering the Lisbon Treaty and fostering pro-environment policies during Germany's Presidency of the EU and the G8 in 2007. Under your leadership, Germany has emerged strongly from the recent recession, and continues to be at the forefront of the push towards renewable energies.

8.         Chancellor Merkel’s personal achievements are well-known to everyone in this room. She became Minister of Women and Youth in 1991, at the age of 37. In 1994, she was appointed Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and in 2000, was elected Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, a position she continues to hold. Her rise to leadership in Germany and in a global setting has however been frequently attributed to her character, and in particular to her clear-headed, pragmatic and modest nature. A physicist by training, she has always applied a keen analytical mind to problems. But here is someone who has lived on both sides of the Berlin Wall, who understands the complexities of governing in the post-Cold War era, and remains in touch with the aspirations and concerns of people on the ground. Her humility and humanity is often remarked on, and has contributed to her popularity amongst the German people.

9.         Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to invite Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, to deliver the 31st Singapore Lecture.