DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Reception of Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 2 June 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Reception of Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee on 2 June 2022.


Dr Tony Tan, 
Former President of the Republic of Singapore,

Your Excellency Kara Owen, 
High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Singapore, 

Sir Tony Blair,
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening, it is my pleasure to join you today at the reception of the Platinum Jubilee for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (the second). 

On behalf of the Government and people of Singapore, I convey my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Her Majesty on this joyous occasion of her Platinum Jubilee. 

Her Majesty’s reign over the past 70 years has been marked by a steely and steadfast dedication to serve the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. 

As the first British monarch to celebrate this momentous milestone, this is indeed a rare and significant occasion worthy of celebration. 

Her Majesty ascended the throne as Queen in February 1952, when Singapore was still a British Crown Colony. 

Over the years, we have had the honour of hosting Her Majesty on three State Visits – in 1972, 1989 and 2006. 

On her first visit to Singapore, Her Majesty did a walkabout in Toa Payoh – our newest HDB housing estate then. 

When she visited the estate again during her State Visit in 2006, Her Majesty was hosted by the same family and was offered a drink of water from the same glass she had used 34 years ago! 

The warmth shown by the crowds gathered on each of Her Majesty’s visits attests to the high regard in which Her Majesty is held by our people. 

We also keenly felt Her Majesty’s personal warmth and hospitality during the first-ever State Visit by a President of Singapore to the United Kingdom in 2014. 

Her Majesty hosted a State Banquet for then President Dr Tony Tan and Mrs Mary Tan at Buckingham Palace. 

Our historical links, mutual interests, as well as the deep bond of friendship and trust between our two peoples have remained strong. These serve as the bedrock of our bilateral relations. 

Our ties date back more than 200 years, when Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore and established a trading post here.

Generations of Britons have contributed to Singapore’s transformation. Their legacies manifest in many parts of our city. 

Travelling around our island, you can see streets that are named after British places and personalities. There is even a Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street in Singapore! 

Another manifestation is the iconic heritage buildings constructed during the British period, which includes Eden Hall, Istana Negara, and Victoria Clock Tower – whose bells chime the same tune as the Big Ben in London. 

But the most important legacies are the constitutional, administrative, and judicial systems that the British built, as well as the use of the English language. 

More than five decades after Independence, these systems continue to be pillars of strength for Singapore even as we evolve them to suit our local context.    

The use of English as the working language in Singapore has given us an advantage, as English is also the predominant global business language.  

Many of us also had the opportunity to study, live or work in the UK, myself included. 

The UK is home to the largest overseas Singaporean community in Europe. The British community here is also the largest from Europe. 

Today, there are more than 5,700 UK companies here, and the British expatriate community in Singapore is about 40,000 strong. 

British companies have established a robust local presence, and made significant contributions to our business ecosystem. 

As we look to the future, we have continued to strengthen our partnership. Our economies have become more intertwined in recent years.

The UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement came into force in February last year, and we signed the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement earlier this year.

We remain committed to support the process for the UK’s accession into the CPTPP. We are also working with the UK towards an investment protection agreement, and a framework for green economy cooperation.

Climate change is an area where there is tremendous potential for collaboration, in areas such as energy grid decarbonisation and low-carbon solutions. Both sides are also accelerating cooperation to promote green finance and the development of international carbon markets.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the UK for delivering a successful COP-26. We look forward to building on this momentum to secure a greener future.

Both Singapore and the UK are also close collaborators on innovation and R&D. Our partnership was further cemented with the Singapore-UK Bilateral Co-Innovation Programme, inked last year.

Under this Programme, Enterprise Singapore and Innovate UK will develop and fund innovation projects between Singapore and UK enterprises in areas such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food tech, and cybersecurity.

The areas of collaboration goes on, but I have made my point. Singapore and the UK not only share a strong historical past, but we also have much in common as we look to the future.

As we celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, I have every confidence that our partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength.

I would like to propose a toast to Her Majesty, The Queen, following the British National Anthem.

It now gives me great pleasure to invite you to join me in a toast: to the continued good health of Her Majesty, The Queen; and to the enduring friendship and goodwill between Singapore and the United Kingdom. 

Foreign affairs