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Singapore President conferred honorary doctorate in Australia

While on a six-day state visit to Australia, President Tony Tan Keng Yam was conferred an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, the University of Adelaide. 

ADELAIDE: Singapore will continue to build on its excellent relations with Australia and explore new ways of collaboration, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Tuesday (June 17). He was speaking at the University of Adelaide, where he was conferred an honorary doctorate, during his six-day state visit to Australia. 

Dr Tan earned his doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of Adelaide in 1967. "I was blessed that my wife could be with me during that period. Though it was not easy, it was most definitely an enjoyable and fruitful time for us," he said. "Besides graduating with a PhD in Applied Mathematics, my eldest son was born here!"

Presenting the  honorary doctorate, Professor Warren Bebbington, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, lauded Dr Tan's "long record of outstanding achievements both as a leader in the Singapore government and in the business sectors". 

Thanking his alma mater for the honour, Dr Tan said Singapore is a beneficiary of Australia's open and generous education policy, with Australia remaining a popular destination for Singapore students. There are currently 130,000 Singaporeans who are alumni of Australian universities. 

Dr Tan said Singapore-Australia education ties were forged in the 1960s, when Singapore students came to Australia under the Colombo Plan Scholarship. Recently, Australian launched the New Colombo Plan - to send its students to Asia.

"Singapore is happy to be amongst the four participants of the pilot phase of the New Colombo Plan," said Dr Tan. "Over time, these students will act as yet another bridge connecting our two countries.  I am confident that the New Colombo Plan will play an important role in strengthening our education and people-to-people ties. The New Colombo Plan also reflects the Australian government's broader focus on enhancing its engagement with Asia."

Dr Tan said education is just one of the key pillars of the longstanding and wide-ranging bilateral ties that Singapore and Australia share, and Singapore will continue to work with Australia to explore new ways of collaborations.

Defence ties also remain strong, and both countries enjoy very "healthy and robust" trade and investment relations, said Dr Tan. Singapore is Australia's largest trading partner in ASEAN and Australia's fourth largest investor.

Earlier on Tuesday, while still in the capital Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called on Dr Tan at Parliament House.

Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry says the leaders reaffirmed the strong bilateral ties, stressing cooperation is deep and multi-faceted across diverse areas such as defence, trade and investments, people-to-people exchanges and education links.

They agreed to explore opportunities to bring relations to an even higher level, and had a "good exchange" on regional developments.

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