“Defend the free and fair exchange of ideas, innovations, goods and services”

9 Nov 2017
Ho Rih Hwa Leadership Lecture by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

“I can tell you: it’s a wonderful view from this podium! I see into the faces of young and bright people – students of Singapore Management University and other universities in Singapore. And as the excellent reputation of this university reaches far beyond the borders of Singapore, I also see students, researchers and guests from all over the world in this room,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking at SMU in the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership Lecture Series, on 2 November 2017.

President Steinmeier had been introduced by SMU Chairman Mr Ho Kwon Ping, who commented that his father, in whose honour the lecture series is named, had been Singapore’s ambassador to Germany. President Steinmeier was giving the ninth lecture in the series whose past speakers include founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, commented Mr Ho. Distinguished guests included former Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is Honorary Patron and Distinguished Senior Fellow at SMU, and his wife Mrs Mary Tan; Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore Minister for Communications & Information, Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs and Minister in charge of Cyber Security (centre); and many diplomats. Other members of the SMU community, as well as principals, teachers and students from various Junior Colleges, polytechnics and international schools were also in the audience.

“I would like to welcome especially former President Tony Tan – thank you for being with us today, said President Steinmeier. “My special thanks also to Ho Kwon Ping, the founding Chairman of this university and our host tonight,” he continued. “Mr Ho, with the rise of Singapore Management University, you have helped to educate a generation of future leaders who are keen and able to shape the path of this country and – something that has been especially important to you – not just for their own personal benefit, but for the common good.”

Former Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Honorary Patron and Distinguished Senior Fellow at SMU, with Federal President Steinmeier.

President Steinmeier and his wife Ms Elke Büdenbender came to SMU during their state visit – the first state visit to Singapore by a German Head of State.

In his speech at SMU, the Federal President addressed issues relating to democracy and its further development. He highlighted the ways Germany and Singapore’s universities, research institutes and businesses are working together to steer the digital revolution. Emphasising the importance that no one should be left behind as technological change sweeps society, he challenged his audience to think about the future they want for their own countries.

He expressed his faith in an open and interconnected world that can be achieved through constant innovation, strong technological stewardship and a highly skilled workforce. "Let us defend the free and fair exchange of ideas, innovations, goods and services. And let us challenge those who say the opposite. I am convinced that in most cases, putting up walls and barriers will neither keep external problems outside nor create prosperity for those within," he said.

A member of the audience raising a question during the dialogue session.

Mr Ho and President Steinmeier during the dialogue session.

Speaking with students during a dialogue session moderated by Mr Ho, he answered questions on a variety of topics, including the role of the European Union in global integration, the implications of China’s increasing power, his views on US President Donald Trump and his advice for pursuing a career in politics. When asked how to address the rise of nationalism, he said it is crucial to ensure societies are not eroded from within, to prevent parts of society from drifting apart. "This may mean that we as politicians have to better explain what we are doing," he added.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore Minister for Communications & Information, Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs and Minister in charge of Cyber Security (centre) with President Steinmeier (right), leaving the auditorium.

Students and a faculty member from Technical University of Munich's TUMCreate Institute.

 

Last updated on 15 Nov 2017.

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