Jean Iau, Singapore – Singapore on Thursday launched a training programme for Timor-Leste officials in support of the country's bid for Asean membership.
More than 300 Timor-Leste officials will be offered training in Asean knowledge and skills such as how to negotiate and write reports. They will also be trained to adapt the country's education system to prepare the younger generation to join the Asean community.
The launch of the programme, called the Singapore-Timor-Leste Asean Readiness Support, or Stars, package, comes during Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta's six-day state visit to Singapore. It is the first state visit from Timor-Leste to the Republic.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Thursday that the Asean knowledge and skills courses aim to equip Timor-Leste officials to participate effectively in Asean meetings. Courses will include those on English-language communication, note-taking and report-writing as well as negotiation, for more than 200 Timor-Leste officials.
An additional 100 Timor-Leste teachers, school administrators and education officials will also be trained in technical and vocational education, as well as school administration and curriculum development, to help develop the country's education system.
On Thursday morning, Mr Ramos-Horta had an orchid named after him and planted a tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. He was then welcomed at the Istana, where he called on President Halimah Yacob and met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. PM Lee also hosted a lunch for Mr Ramos-Horta at the Istana.
MFA said of the meetings: "They reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to support Timor-Leste's development through capacity-building programmes, and welcomed more Timorese officials to participate in the Singapore Cooperation Programme."
The programme, established in 1992 to consolidate various technical assistance initiatives offered by Singapore since the 1960s, allows foreign officials to sign up for courses that the Government supports.
MFA added that PM Lee reaffirmed Singapore's in-principle support for Timor-Leste's Asean membership and the Republic's commitment to work with other member states on an objective road map for Timor-Leste's Asean membership.
Mr Ramos-Horta, who is visiting Singapore from Tuesday to Sunday, is scheduled to deliver the 45th Singapore Lecture organised by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute on Thursday. This will be followed by a state banquet hosted by President Halimah at the Istana.
The state visit comes after leaders of Asean said in November at the 40th and 41st Asean summits that Timor-Leste will be admitted in principle as the 11th member state of the grouping.
They said then that Timor-Leste, Asia's youngest nation, will be granted observer status at Asean meetings, including at summit plenaries, and the grouping will formalise an "objective criteria-based road map" for its full membership in Asean.