Singapore and The British Commonwealth
The first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was held in Singapore in 1971, with Singapore’s then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew as the first Chairperson. As many new members had become independent and joined in the 1960s CHOGM was an expansion of the former Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conferences.
The first CHOGM led to the Singapore Declaration, which set out the Commonwealth's core beliefs: rejection of racism and discrimination, liberty, egalitarianism, the eradication of poverty, free trade, institutional co-operation; multilateralism; world peace and support for the United Nations.
Singapore remains an active member of the Commonwealth. the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew regularly attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and his successors as Prime Minister have followed him.
In 1969 Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave a speech in Cambridge titled ‘The continuity of association after empire’ in which he gave his views on the Commonwealth. He concluded that:
‘As the old generation that knew the Commonwealth countries well passes on, a younger generation must keep up the expertise’.
Today the Singapore-Commonwealth Third Country Training Programme, (TCTP) under the Singapore International Cooperation Programme, offers technical training to official from around the Commonwealth. Singapore and the Commonwealth signed a MoU in 1994 to jointly provide technical assistance to Commonwealth member countries.
About 10 joint courses are conducted each year in areas covering public administration and governance, disaster management, information technology, productivity management, trade facilitation and SME development, to date over 170 training programmes for the benefit of more than 3,000 participants.