Learning center has been boosting ties between Singapore, Cambodia over 20 years

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Cambodian senior civil servant Tan Sokchea is an alumnus of a learning center set up by Singapore, as are about 11,000 officials from his country’s ministries and agencies.

The director-general at the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, who was at the official opening of the Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Centre (CSCC) in Phnom Penh on Tuesday (Aug 2), said he last attended a course there a few months ago.

He said of his three-week course to polish his English proficiency: “In the context of globalisation, language is the most important for communication. If you understand better, then it will improve the efficiency of your work as well. That is why this training is important.”

This year marks 20 years of technical cooperation under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) between the two countries, the CSCC is a 2018 upgrade of the Cambodia-Singapore Training Centre set up in 2002 and aims to boost economic integration and the adoption of technology through its training.

The center, which conducts training courses for government officials in areas ranging from English language to public administration, will also bring together Singapore entities and global partners of ASEAN to carry out programmes to develop technical know-how in Cambodia’s workforce.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said at the official opening event that the CSCC has conducted 76 training courses since July 2018, covering topics such as the use of innovation to promote food security and safety and increasing digital adoption to enhance the resilience of public health systems.

Singapore has also set up similar centers in Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar under the IAI, which was launched in 2000.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn noted the sizeable number of Cambodian officials trained at the center over the last 20 years. He added that to date, Singapore has spent more than $170 million on the IAI.

“In the light of this, on behalf of the government of Cambodia, we would like to convey our deep gratitude to the government of Singapore for being the prime mover in narrowing the development gaps and deepening ASEAN integration,” he said.

Dr Balakrishnan said the centers enable Singapore to support newer ASEAN members such as Cambodia as they grow.

In his speech, Dr Balakrishnan noted that the officials who have attended courses at the center are among more than 16,600 Cambodians who have participated in courses as part of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) – the broader initiative that the IAI comes under.

Globally, more than 137,000 government officials from 180 countries have attended workshops or courses under the SCP, which was set up in 1992 to bring together Singapore’s technical assistance efforts.

The SCP marks its 30th anniversary this year.

Dr Balakrishnan is in Cambodia this week to attend the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings.



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