Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with Goh Chok Tong, Emeritus Senior Minister, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister of Singapore.
During the bilateral meeting, Tokayev stressed Kazakhstan’s enormous respect for Singapore as a highly developed multi-ethnic state. He also noted that since Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s visit to Kazakhstan in 1991, and President Nursultan Nazarbayev's subsequent visits to Singapore in 1996 and 2003, the two countries have established a solid foundation for bilateral cooperation.
Mr.Tokayev discussed the role of the Senate in Kazakhstan’s political system, as well as progress in implementing the Plan of the Nation on Five Institutional Reforms. He emphasized the growing importance of parliamentary ties between the two nations while reflecting on his visit to Singapore earlier this year.
In response, Mr.Goh expressed a belief that his visit to Astana would strengthen bilateral relations while promoting investments, encouraging business exchanges, and advancing cooperation between civil services.
The same day, Mr.Goh spoke at the plenary meeting of the Senate. In introducing his guest of honour, Mr.Tokayev reminded the audience that Mr.Goh led Singapore’s government from 1990 to 2004. He continued: "The development strategy, which Singapore followed under his leadership, has contributed to the country's transformation into one of the most economically developed and politically stable countries in the world. Mr. Goh continued the cause of Lee Kuan Yew, a prominent political leader of Asia, the founder and the first Prime Minister of Singapore.”. Emphasizing Singapore’s role as an important political and trade-economic partner of Kazakhstan in South-East Asia, Mr. Tokayev pointed out that “the experience of this country is an example for Kazakhstan, which aims to enter the top thirty most developed nations”.
In his remarks, Mr.Goh shared his impressions of Astana and Kazakhstan. “The palpable vibrancy of the city reflects the vision of the Kazakh leadership in building an advanced and prosperous country in the heart of Eurasia. Having been in government, I can fully appreciate the complexity and challenges of developing a huge country like Kazakhstan”, he said. He singled out three major insights from his experience as the second Prime Minister of Singapore, noting his country’s emphasis on human resources, institution building, and strong leadership.
Reflecting on history, Mr. Goh drew several parallels between Singapore and Kazakhstan, noting that both “were separated from far larger federations in times of great uncertainty” and both have benefited from a visionary leadership. He commended President Nazarbayev as “a strong and wise leader” who “gets things done, like Lee Kuan Yew when he was Prime Minister of a fledging country”.
“At 25 years of age, Kazakhstan is a young country with an exciting future. Unlike Singapore, the question for Kazakhstan is not how to turn vulnerabilities into strengths, but rather how to transform its bountiful natural resources into high per capita income and standard of living on a sustainable basis… The 2050 Strategy's emphasis on economic diversification and building а knowledge-based economy, and the Nurly Zhol Economic Policy targeting development of infrastructure and civil service, put Kazakhstan in good stead to prepare for the future”, he said.
Mr.Goh spoke of Singapore’s desire to strengthen economic relations with Kazakhstan through the Bilateral Investment Treaty and а Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. He also emphasized potential cooperation through the “One Belt One Road” initiative, which is being promoted by China.