Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Defence and Foreign Affairs Dr Maliki Osman attended the 9th Forum for East Asia Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting (FMM) in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic from 8 to 10 November 2019. During the FEALAC FMM, SMS Maliki highlighted Singapore's role as co-founding member of FEALAC, and welcomed the Forum's evolution over the last 20 years. SMS Maliki reiterated Singapore's commitment to FEALAC's objectives of promoting inter-regional understanding and cultural awareness, including through the FEALAC Journalists' Visit Programme which Singapore has hosted every year since 1999.
SMS Maliki had bilateral meetings with his East Asian and Latin American counterparts, including Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic Miguel Vargas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama Alejandro Ferrer and State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Keisuke Suzuki. They discussed regional and international developments and welcomed opportunities to deepen links between Latin America and Asia.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
10 NOVEMBER 2019
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SPEECH BY SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENCE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS DR MALIKI OSMAN AT THE 9TH FEALAC FOREIGN MINISTERS' MEETING (FMM), SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
1 Thank you to the Dominican Republic for hosting the FEALAC FMM and for their kind hospitality. Thank you also to Laos for its contributions as East Asia Regional Coordinator.
2 As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Forum in 2019, it is useful to look back on the Forum's founding and its development over two decades. This will help us frame the discussions on the theme Where are we, and where are we going?
3 FEALAC was first mooted by Singapore's then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1998 as an institutionalised forum for dialogue between East Asia and Latin America. We had envisioned FEALAC to bridge the missing link between our two dynamic regions. At his meeting with then-President of Chile Eduardo Frei, then-Prime Minister Goh had suggested that we could start small and expand the Forum with a step-by-step approach.
4 The inaugural FEALAC Senior Officials' Meeting was held in Singapore from 1 September 1999. In the last two decades, the membership of the Forum has also grown from 27 to 36 members.
5 FEALAC has evolved to become a broad platform for political and business leaders to exchange views and address common challenges. It has also become an important forum to explore avenues for the expansion of region-to-region cooperation. This is especially the case for Latin American countries which do not have any other vehicles to regularly interact and engage countries in Asia.
6 We are happy to see broadening ownership of FEALAC, especially within ASEAN countries. In addition to Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos have served as Regional Coordinators since the start of the Forum. Singapore looks forward to working with the next East Asia and Latin America Regional Coordinators.
7 We are heartened to see the increase in the number of national and regional projects over the last 20 years, including those that promote the exchange of best practices in the areas of healthcare and legal reform. The diversity and inclusivity of these projects are what makes FEALAC unique.
8 The establishment of the FEALAC Trust Fund in 2017 has also facilitated FEALAC-wide projects. I am happy to see that the current projects are focussed on salient issues such as deepening market integration between our regions and reducing inequality.
9 On our part, Singapore has organised the FEALAC Journalists' Visit Programme (JVP) for the last twenty years. It is our flagship and most successful initiative to promote inter-regional understanding and cultural awareness between Asia and Latin America. Since its inception, the FEALAC JVP has hosted 120 journalists from 17 different countries.
10 This year's FEALAC JVP was scheduled to coincide with FEALAC Day on 1 September 2019. We hosted journalists from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Mexico. To raise awareness of FEALAC in Singapore, we mounted a social media campaign to profile the Forum and the JVP.
11 The journalists also had a tea session with our Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Minister Balakrishnan and the journalists had a lively exchange on the strong potential for more political, economic and people-to-people exchanges between East Asia and Latin America.
12 We welcome any interested Asian partners to invite the journalists to follow on from Singapore to another Asian country to give them a broader perspective of the region, as well as Latin American partners to similarly invite journalists from East Asia on a reciprocal JVP, so that we can make the JVP a bi-regional project.
13 The 20th anniversary of FEALAC is a good time to take stock of our progress and plan ahead. The New FEALAC Action Plan adopted in 2017 is a good step in this direction. As the New FEALAC Action Plan is meant to be a living document, I hope that member states will continue to contribute to this endeavour.
14 FEALAC is a mechanism for more regularised interaction between our two regions. At a time when multilateralism is under threat, our continued interactions at FEALAC are opportune moments for our two regions to re-affirm our commitment for open dialogue and inter-regional cooperation. It also provides us with better understanding of each other's regions.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Singapore