Timor Leste Strengthens South East Asian Relations with New Embassy in Singapore

Timor-Leste has taken another step towards its aim of joining ASEAN by establishing an embassy in Singapore, some eight years after having established diplomatic relations with the country in May 2002. Text and photo by Mallika Naguran.

President Jose Ramos-Horta announces the opening of the new Timor-Leste Embassy in Singapore.

Singapore, 3 December 2010. The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste set up an embassy in Singapore on 1 December 2010, some eight years after having established diplomatic relations with the country in May 2002.

Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta was in Singapore for the ceremonial proceedings. Ambassador His Excellency Roberto Sarmento de Oliveira Soares was appointed to represent the new island nation’s interests in Singapore and to strengthen economic ties. Singapore represents Timor’s fifth largest import economy while Indonesia remains Timor’s largest trading partner.

President Horta gave a talk at the Singapore-based International Institute for Strategic Studies – Asia where he provided his insights on trade, humanitarian issues and international relations. Timor-Leste has already established embassies in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and China as well as embassies in Australia and New Zealand.

Timor-Leste enjoyed double-digit economic growth last year, ranking with the highest in the world. Tremendous improvement has been seen since the country was paralysed by civil strife in 2006, with resulting negative impact on its economy.

President Horta hopes Timor-Leste will become a member of ASEAN when Jakarta hosts the summit in 2011. The location and the chairmanship of Indonesia would be symbolic, given the history of the Timorese people under Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste from the 1970s-1990s, together with the improved bilateral relations between the two since the latter’s independence.

Timor-Leste has been attracting some major investments of late. President Horta noted various new development successes at the inauguration.

He spoke of the opening of a new Chinese electronic factory in 2011, with the potential for creating 3,000 jobs. A Japanese electronic conglomerate also has intentions of moving its operations from China to Timor-Leste to reduce cost of overheads. A 350-room five-star hotel with a 27-hole golf course is also being built by Sutera Harbour Resort developer Datuk Edward Ong. It is designed to cater for the needs of businessmen, and has seen an investment of US$175 million.

Sustainable development is also much on the agenda, according to President Horta. Clean and renewable energy development will help meet the country’s long-term energy security needs, while in the short term, the rich offshore oil and gas reserves will be explored to provide energy and income.

President Horta shared that a new agreement will be reached between the government and an international petroleum consortium on tapping fuel resources. “We are deciding if we should have an off-shore floating plant at Greater Sunrise that would be size of five to ten soccer fields.” The fuel revenues, he said, “add to the wealth of our country.”

According to President Horta, Timor-Leste intends to extend its embassy network, and to formalise diplomatic relations with Myanmar, Vietnam and India with new embassies in 2011.

Related articles on Gaia Discovery:

President Horta: Let's Have An Asian Climate Change Summit

President Jose Ramos-Horta on a Sustainable Future for Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste Embassy in Singapore Contact And Address:

Ambassador His Excellency Roberto Sarmento de Oliveira Soares

#04-09 Winsland House 3 Kiliney Road Singapore 239519

timorleste.singapore2010@gmail.com    Tel: +65 6235 6318