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His Excellency, Santiago Miralles Huete, Ambassador of Spain,

His Excellency, Mário Miranda Duarte, Ambassador of Portugal,

His Excellency, Ignacio Concha , Ambassador of Chile,

Mr Felix Loh, Chief Executive, Gardens by the Bay,

Distinguished guests,


It is a great honour to be invited to witness the launch of the “Encounter Between Three Worlds” exhibition.


The exhibition commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world by the Magellan-Elcano expedition – an historic event that we still have much to learn from today. As Second Minister for both Education and Foreign Affairs, the expedition speaks to me on two levels that I would like to share.

  1. Curiosity and confidence – Firstly, we need to inspire curiosity and instil confidence in our students so that they are unafraid to venture into uncharted waters and fulfil their true potential.

  2. Connection – Secondly, as we are more interconnected than ever compared to Magellan-Elcano’s expedition 500 years ago, it is increasingly important to maintain good bilateral relations with our partners.


Curiosity and confidence to chart new discoveries


Similar to Magellan, we too, live in times of great uncertainty.

  1. In the 16th century, people thought that the world might have been flat.

  2. This notion was all but eliminated by the Magellan-Elcano expedition, although there are still some today who refer to themselves as ‘flat-earthers’.

  3. Likewise, our students face uncertainty brought about by climate change, technological disruptions and even COVID-19. And they can expect to face even more uncertainty in the future.


So how do we equip our students to face these challenges?

  1. Beyond imparting knowledge, we inspire curiousity.

  2. But to act upon our curiosity, we also need confidence. Confidence to try and sometimes even fail.

  3. Discovery begins when we challenge longheld assumptions and limitations.


Connection even more important in times of hyper-connectivity

The first circumnavigation of the world was a pre-cursor to how connected the world would become.

  1. Then it took three years for the expedition to return to Spain.

  2. Now information can travel across the globe in mere seconds.

  3. With the ability to communicate so quickly and easily, it is even more important for us to maintain good relationships as we manage the follow of information.


Magellan’s expedition has had especially profound impact on Chile, Spain, Portugal and Southeast Asia. This occasion thus provides a fitting backdrop to celebrate our countries’ good bilateral relationships.

  • Singapore enjoys good relations with Spain – especially in areas such as urban planning, artificial intelligence and the arts.


We have recently signed a landing pad MOU between the IMDA and Spanish Insitute of Foreign Trade to enhance cooperation on the digital front.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Portugal in May 2021.

  • And our respective National Parks experts are also cooperating to facilitate a tree exchange – an Olive tree from Portugal and a Yellow Flame tree from Singapore. Trees have been integral in realising our vision of Singapore as a City in Nature.


As fellow maritime states, Portugal and Singapore have longstanding interests in promoting free trade, connectivity and resilient supply chains, and are firm believers of the rules-based multilateral system.


Singapore and Chile also cooperate on a wide spectrum of areas, including trade, clean energy, education, as well as research and development. We have worked well to strengthen cooperation and regional ties across the Pacific Ocean. 


Such as through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation and the more recently signed Pacific Alliance-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.


Our respective bilateral relationships sits on very strong foundations and are poised to scale greater heights. Just as Megallen’s expedition explored new frontiers, so must our relationships.



Once again, thank you to the Embassies of Spain, Portugal and Chile for inviting me to launch this exhibition. We look forward to strengthening our good relationships and deepening cooperation. 

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