SYDNEY: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Singaporeans in Sydney on Saturday (Mar 17), during an official visit to attend the third Singapore Australia Leaders’ Retreat and the ASEAN Australia Special Summit.
He was accompanied by Mrs Lee, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and High Commissioner to Australia Kwok Fook Seng.
Addressing the crowd of around 300 Singaporean professionals and their families at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney, Mr Lee said each time he visits cities where many Singaporeans are in, he would try to gather with the community.
He added Australia is a particularly warm place to do so because of the many Singaporeans living there. “I think every year 300,000 Singaporeans come to Australia. One million Australians visit Singapore. It is a very intense engagement and connection,” he said.
“There’s a lot of things we’re doing together, Singapore and Australia. We cooperate economically, we do a lot of business. Australian companies are in Singapore, Singapore companies are here. We have people exchanges, we have cultural exchanges, we have defence cooperation,” he added.
Former businessman Fong Chong Yeong has been in Sydney for 15 years but says Singapore is still home. The 51-year-old came to Sydney in 2003 for a work trip while he was managing director of OSIM International. He left the company in 2012 but remained in Sydney and joined another company.
“I always joke and tell my friends that we never migrated here. I came here because of a job and then somehow I got stuck here and I just lived here for the last 15 years. Singapore is still our home ... Our families are back in Singapore so we do go back every year and keep in touch with what’s going on in Singapore.”
Mr Fong, who was part of the Singapore Youth Orchestra between 1980 and 1990, also returned in 2015 to perform for the nation’s SG50 celebrations.
He said he would consider returning to Singapore one day with the skills and experience he has picked up abroad.
“If you ask about intending to go back to Singapore ... it’s always a thought lingering there. Let’s say there’s an opportunity, something arises I’ll definitely consider. In any case I grew up in Singapore, I’m used to the environment there.”