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Ambassadørens tale på Grundlovsdag

06.06.2017  05:20

• Your Excellency Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
• Members of Parliament, Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Mr Darryl David,
• Fellow Danes, ladies and gentlemen
• A warm welcome to this celebration in beautiful Singapore.

***

• It is in fact a triple celebration. Today, we celebrate the Danish Constitution Day, the World Environment Day and the strong relations between Singapore and Denmark.

***

• First of all, the 5th of June is the Danish Constitution Day.

• Now, unlike Singapore, Denmark does not actually have a national day. The birth of Denmark as a nation was a gradual development, which can be traced back more than a thousand years. But Constitution Day is the closest such thing we have.

• Today, we commemorate the signing of the Danish constitution in 1849, which ended absolute monarchy. It’s a celebration of our democracy – not only as a political system but as a way of life.

• The Danes are modest people, so it has come as a surprise to us, to experience a recent growth in international interest in the Danish way of life.

• Could you imagine that the British Collins Dictionary actually included a Danish term among the most used and talked about new words of 2016? Not as number one of course. Unsurprisingly, the most talked about word was Brexit. Trumpism was a close second. But third – and maybe as a reaction to the first two -  came the Danish word “hygge”.

• There is no direct translation of the word “hygge”. It is sometimes translated as cosiness. But personally, I translate “hygge as “pleasant togetherness” as it reflects the Danish national spirit, for better and worse.

• On the positive side, we like to feel good together. Not just by lighting candles or drinking mulled wine in front of fire places. But by having low power distance, being very informal and consensus-seeking. We take part in civil society as volunteers. And we strive for equality and social mobility with no-one left behind.

• On the more negative side, we have to admit, that “hygge” can also mean avoidance of disagreement and settling for the lowest common denominator. Here we could definitely benefit from taking a leaf from Singapore’s book and better celebrate skills and talent.

• As I speak, Constitution Day is being celebrated by a slew of political speeches all over Denmark, where a large number of Danes take part in the conversation on what democracy means today.

***

• Now, the second celebration tonight, is the UN World Environment Day. Environmental problems – and solutions – cut across borders and affect us all.

• And nothing will affect us more profoundly then global warming and man-made climate change A few days ago, the United States regrettably decided to exit the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Nevertheless, we are heartened to see that other countries have not followed suit. We commend Singapore for a very swift announcement of its continued support for the pact and for its steady national efforts to curb climate change.

• Denmark and the rest of the EU also stand by the Paris Agreement and will not lower our national commitments. Copenhagen has set an ambitious target to become carbon neutral already by 2025. Denmark as a whole aims at reaching the target by 2050.

• And we are serious about it, even tonight, where we have succeeded in making this the first carbon neutral national day event in Singapore.

• Denmark has embraced sustainable energy, with more than 50 percent of our electricity consumption last year coming from wind energy alone. And Denmark has created an infrastructure that enables green mobility, including cycling.

• An astonishing 50 percent of people in Copenhagen commute to work or school by bike every day. Cars are down to 9 percent.

• So profound is this change that it has given rise to another new international word, “Copenhagenize”. Today, Copenhagenize is used as a concept in urban planning and design for encouraging cycling. Ang Mo Kio model bicycling town is an example of Copenhagenizing right here in Singapore.

• Singapore is serious about improving cycling through important infrastructure developments. We are impressed to see bicycle lanes being incorporated in the upcoming North-South corridor development. This is good news for a green and healthy Singapore.

***
• Comparing notes on how to promote cycling is only one of the many areas of cooperation between Denmark and Singapore.

• In 2017, we celebrate 52 years of our strong bilateral ties.

• Although Singapore and Denmark are 10,000 km apart and have taken different development paths, we have many similarities that link us together.

• We have the same population size. We are among the richest countries in the world, but with no natural resources to speak off other than our people. And we are open, trade-dependent economies that rely on a rules-based international order.

• Importantly, we share the same desire to future proof our economies. We seek to address future realities early to ensure we keep our top positions and leave our countries robust, richer and with an even better quality of life for our future generations. 

• And in this endeavour, we look for inspiration from one-another as we each chart out our own unique development course.

• This past year again, we have had large number of visits and delegations both ways. Most notably, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited Denmark in March 2017. He led a SkillsFuture delegation to study the Danish approach to lifelong learning and adult training.

• Our trade relations have traditionally focused on maritime co-operation and trade in goods. The maritime cooperation continues to be a cornerstone and during Singapore Maritime Week, we entered into a new agreement on recognizing and promoting e-certificates in shipping.

• I am pleased to note, the cooperation has expanded with new areas such as smart urban development, human-centric design, health care and livability.

• Just recently, two collaboration agreements were signed here in Singapore, which will kick start collaboration on Smart Cities Living Labs and Financial Technologies. I am pleased to see the Singaporean partners of these agreements with us tonight – NTU’s Energy Research Institute and Singapore Fintech Association.

***
• Allow me a few words of thanks.

• This National Day celebration would not have been possible to organize had it not been for the great collaboration with Danish companies.

• We are fortunate to have a large and thriving Danish business community in Singapore. It spans across Shipping and Maritime, Green and Smart City Solutions, Engineering and Cleantech, Healthcare and Danish design, lifestyle and quality consumer goods, food & beverage, banking, relocation services and even defence!

• I’d like to extend a warm thank you to our sponsors tonight. I am proud to say that the list is long, so please bear with me, as I give them the due mention, they deserve.

• Thanks to our premium sponsors tonight, Grundfos and Oticon. Thanks also to sponsors COWI, Danfoss, GN Audio, Hafnia Tankers, J. Lauritzen, Maersk, MJ Invest, Rambøll, Santa Fe, Straits Tankers, Vestas, Terma, as well as Baader, Georg Jensen, Lundbeck, Nordea, Palsgaard, and Thomsen Food Line for your generous support.

• Some of our sponsors have chosen to show-case their solutions here tonight – from windmills and bicycles to toys, design and delicacies. I hope you will take the opportunity to check out the exhibitions. And please take part in our lucky draw to take home some of the products.

• I’d also like to extend my thanks to Mandarin Oriental – Christian Hassing and his team, for accommodating us on your beautiful Harbour Terrace tonight with authentic Danish food.

***

• I’d be remiss without mentioning the supportive Danish community here in Singapore, including the beautiful Danish Seamen’s Church, the Danish Business Association, and the Scandinavian Women’s Association. You do great work.

• A special thanks goes out to our musical team for tonight: The Danish students from the German European School, Singapore, who will sing the Danish national anthem together with Marie Timroth, and solo singer Liwani, who will perform Singapore’s national anthem. I hope you were passed a copy of the lyrics to both national anthems – as we will all sing along in line with the Danish traditions. That’s hygge, you know.

• I must also thank my wonderful team at the Danish Embassy, who have worked tirelessly to make tonight happen. 

• To end, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of Singapore for the warm and cordial relations we enjoy and for the hospitality you continue to offer Danish interests in Singapore.

• I hope you will all enjoy the evening.

• Thank you.



 

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