Sunday 23 September 2012

Total's advisers honour Lee Kuan Yew

Group, of which Mr Lee is a member, meets in Singapore for the first time
By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 22 Sep 2012

THE 10 high-powered members of Total's international advisory committee usually meet in Paris.

But this year, they gathered in Singapore for the first time - to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore's founding prime minister, who turned 89 last Sunday, has been a member of the French oil and gas giant's international advisory board for the last 19 years.

Flanked by four Cabinet ministers and several corporate titans, Mr Lee hosted a dinner for the Total board at the Istana last night.

He then announced that this would be his last meeting with them.

"Next year I'll be 90. You'll be having a meeting in September. If you had not said it is in Paris, it makes my job easier to say: 'Thank you, this is my last session'."

But in an unexpected twist, Total chairman Christophe de Margerie said he refused Mr Lee's resignation.

"I refuse his dismissal, your resignation. If you don't mind, you will stay as a member of our advisory board, which means you can come whenever you wish. It will be always our pleasure," Mr Margarie said.

He paid tribute to Mr Lee's involvement in the company and said he was to "stay as long as you wish to be part of it".

Also on the Total committee are Lord Leon Brittan, former Home Secretary of Britain, Mr Nobuo Tanaka, the former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and Dr Joseph Nye, dean emeritus of Harvard University's Kennedy School.

They flew in for two days of meetings and will also attend the Formula 1 motor race.

Mr Lee, now senior adviser to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, also sits on the JP Morgan Chase and Co International Council and attends the Nikkei International Forum on the Future of Asia, which gives him "valuable input" for his GIC role.

He shared with his guests how Singapore had overcome its challenges.

It was thanks to globalisation and the presence of transnational corporations like Total that Singapore survived, after it was thrust into independence following separation from Malaysia, and had no resources to call its own, he said.

"We had no reason to believe we could go from a per capita GDP of just over a thousand, to now around $54,000. What was the miracle? Globalisation," he said.

Singapore benefited by being a port of call for ocean trade, but more than that, he said, "we learned how to create conditions that gave confidence to investors, made living in Singapore safe for foreigners and their families".

"So I gave you a spot of history, to give you an idea of the errors we made, and fortunately we got more things right than wrong," he said.

Also present at the private dinner at the Istana were Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnman, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say, and Acting Minister for Community, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, and the chairmen of some of Singapore's largest companies.

Singapore is Total's headquarters for most of its Asian operations including marketing, exploration and production.

Mr Lee toasted Total with these words: "We are on hard granite. You haven't come here to drill for oil. You have come here because of our relationship over 19 years."

S'pore is what it is today because of globalisation: Lee Kuan Yew 
by Dylan Loh, TODAY, 21 Sep 2012

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore is what it is today because of globalisation, with the investments of trans-national firms having played a part in the country's development.

Mr Lee made these remarks today while hosting French oil giant TOTAL to dinner at the Istana.

He has been on the firm's International Advisory Committee since 1993, and said the experience has given him useful inputs as a Senior Advisor to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

Mr Lee recounted how Singapore overcame the odds after separating from Malaysia and becoming independent in 1965. He said Singapore made some errors in its history, but got more things right than wrong, on the whole.

He said: "We were suddenly confronted with the challenge of making a living for two million people on a barren island at the southernmost tip of Asia, which gives us the advantage of servicing all the ships that cross the Atlantic and the Pacific.

"But more than that, we learned how to create conditions which gave confidence to investors, and made living in Singapore safe for foreigners and their families."

TOTAL's chairman and chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, paid tribute to Mr Lee as Singapore's founding father and invited him to stay on the company's Advisory Committee for as long as he wants. 

TOTAL bases several of its activities in Singapore, including the marketing of lubricants.

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