Singapore International Foundation and US-Asia Institute to Further Promote People-to-People Exchanges and Collaborations for a Better World

Washington DC, United States, 6 October 2015 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and the US-Asia Institute (USAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, reaffirming their commitment to further strengthen cross-cultural understanding and ties between the people of Singapore and the United States (US). Through the MOU, the two organisations build on their long-standing and valuable partnership to organise annual SIF-USAI Dialogues involving US Congressional Staffers who have visited Singapore and other thought leaders and opinion shapers in the US, both Singaporeans and Americans. SIF and USAI would also promote interaction and collaborations between Singaporeans and Americans in the social and cultural space to effect positive social change.

The SIF and USAI first collaborated in 1991 on the US Congressional Staff Members Visit Programme (StaffDel) to help staffers develop a better understanding of Singapore’s people and policies, perspectives and viewpoints. Since then, the annual StaffDel programme has brought more than 200 staffers to Singapore. The exchange of ideas between thought leaders and opinion shapers has enabled the growth of mutual understanding which is important to build a better world.

The new annual SIF-US Asia Institute Dialogue in Washington D.C. will enable US Congressional staff members to share the insights gained from their visit to Singapore with a wider US community. The annual dialogue will start in 2016 to commemorate the 50th year of Singapore’s bilateral relationship with the United States. It will be co-organised by both organisations.

The MOU will also pave the way for both SIF and USAI to facilitate more collaborations in the social entrepreneurship space, as well as in the area of arts for social good.

“The SIF’s work with the US began in 1991 when six US Congressional Staff members visited Singapore under a special programme to gain first-hand insights into the head, heart and soul of our island nation. Since then, we have expanded the visit programme to include American academics, journalists and thought leaders. SIF is committed to taking our good relations forward with the American community, as we consider What’s next, Singapore for the next 50 years. This partnership will enable our organisations to pursue collaborations that would enable greater exchange of insights and perspectives at the people-to-people level. All this being done to create a more peaceful, inclusive world with opportunities for all. This is SIF’s vision of a better world,” says Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Chairman, SIF, at SIF Connects! Washington D.C. - SIF’s annual platform for reengaging Friends of Singapore and SIF programme alumni.

“The US-Asia Institute is honoured to enter into this understanding with our friends from the Singapore International Foundation,” said US-Asia Institute Chairman Kent Lucken. “People-to-people exchanges, such as this, are the foundation for increasing awareness, knowledge and understanding. The delegation trips provide invaluable opportunities for US Congressional advisors to gain a first-hand view of Singapore, its culture, its government and its people, and to share insights into the US policy making process. The annual Dialogue will enhance this experience and take it to the next level of engagement on key issues of mutual interest.”

SIF’s friendship with US communities is a rich and multi-faceted one, spanning 24 years of engagements through dialogues, visits, arts and cultural exchanges and volunteer co-operation projects. Over the years, the SIF has hosted prominent US visitors such as Mr Jim Leach, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities to promote the exchange of ideas for greater understanding. In 2015, over 50 artists and arts group from Singapore have presented their works in various cities across the United States and embarked on collaborations with their American counterparts, through the Singapore Internationale programme. The SIF also has an existing partnership with the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii that enables US journalists to participate in visit programmes that enhance their awareness and understanding of Singapore.

The MOU was signed by Ms Jennifer Lewis, Governor, SIF and Mr Benjamin Wu, Vice-Chairman, USAI. It was witnessed by Ambassador Ong and Dr. Anthony Cordesman, Senior Advisor, US-Asia Institute and a delegate in the 1st Congressional Staff Delegation to Singapore in 1991 while working for Senator John McCain.



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