Speech by Her Majesty the Queen at the state banquet on the occasion of her state visit to Singapore

24 januari 2013

Singapore, 24 January 2013

Mr President,

It gives me great pleasure to be your guest here today. The dynamism of Singapore leaves no-one untouched. We have been able to experience this on many occasions. Singapore buzzes with energy!

Your country takes up a very modest space on the globe. But it is a country of great significance and in many ways a model of progress. All around the world there is interest and admiration for your country's achievements. It is impressive to see how the population has managed in a single generation to build an economy that is one of the most advanced in the world. This is the result of exceptionally hard work, but also of the ingenuity, vision and leadership of those who bore responsibility in the past and those who do so today. Singapore demonstrates how far a country can come without mineral and other natural resources. Knowledge is the raw material, belief in one's own strength the source of energy.

The Netherlands is linked to your country in many different ways and greatly values the cooperation that has come to flourish in all manner of fields. This is mainly in sectors such as water, health, food and advanced technology, which are essential for sustainable growth and a high standard of living.

Our ties are, however, not only economic and technological in nature. Singapore and the Netherlands work together as partners to make the seas safer by fighting piracy. Peace and security demand dedication and effort. We also look back with gratitude to the important contribution made by doctors and nurses from Singapore to medical care in Camp Holland in the Afghan province of Uruzgan. Many owe their lives to them.

Mutual understanding and openness have always been the basis of our cooperation, since the birth of modern Singapore. And the role played by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has not been forgotten in our country. We know how he inspired people and led the impressive transformation of Singapore. Like a conductor he was able to mould a great number of musicians into a single orchestra, admired all over the world.

Integrity was key to this process. He who requires great dedication from another must also set high standards for himself. Because much was asked, much was achieved. 'One who is unwilling to take on a burden does not know what duty means.' These wise words of Confucius have been a recurring theme throughout the history of modern Singapore.

We are very proud that a compatriot - Albert Winsemius - had the opportunity, as special advisor, to use his knowledge and experience for many years in assisting Prime Minister Lee, in friendship and solidarity.

And it is in the spirit of friendship and solidarity that the Netherlands wishes to continue and expand its cooperation with Singapore. We hope that next year free trade and cooperation between Singapore and the European Union will benefit from a new impetus. This would further support our own efforts to deepen our bilateral ties.

I should like to invite all those present to raise their glasses with me to your health, Mr President, and to the happy continuation of the friendly ties between our countries.