Political Caricatures and the High Commision

The formality of the venture to the Australian High Commission in Singapore confirmed a number of political archetypes and painted caricatures of the governmental personality of our global neighbours. The English embassy fronted two sharply dressed guards and a scarcely fenced greenery – comically mirroring the countries border leniency. Inversely, the engraved marble façade of the American consult was perched on a hill above the walkway, as if purposely built at an advantage to its neighbours. Appropriately, signs forbidding photography accompanied the gated, picketed boundaries – each of these ironically followed by an array of lifeless security cameras. Finally, the Australian High Commission and obviously the only I was allowed entry to gifted subtle reminders of home – a friendly smile, a stash of Tim-Tams and of course a fridge full of beer.

Predictably, the concept of national identity was frequented in the talks that followed; more surprisingly however, were the relayed anecdotes of Singapore’s governmental powers. Comparison was drawn between the countries’ democracy and their relative youth and most impressively the Colombo Plan, the predecessor to the very purpose of my travels, was outlined. The initial endeavour regarded education relationships between Singaporean students and Australian universities. Celebrated members of the community, parliament and the nation’s President were products of the scheme, giving credence to the current emphasis on the relationship of the governments and vindicating the significance of this opportunity for my future.

The visit to the Australian embassy clarified the significance of our relationship with Singapore and highlighted similarities that I would have other wised overlooked. Ultimately, it is apparent that our nations can find economic prosperity within collaboration and understanding between one another. Pre-existing intimacies between Lee Hsien Loong and Australia as a nation, alongside the New Colombo Plan are undoubtedly strong starting points for this endeavour. 

Singapore’s focus on research and development and their distribution of wealth to the sciences were elucidated in a visit to Institute for Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). A brief presentation with Australian native Dr. Sean O’Shea highlighted the opportunities in research and development presented to both Singaporeans and international postgraduates – particularly in the study of materials at the nanoscale. A-Star, IMRE’s governing body, offers a multitude of scholarships and internship programs to elite students of the trade globally. The significance of this is prevalent in the avant-garde facilities and instrumentation that are supported by funding from the Singaporean government – instrumentation that may be otherwise unobtainable in Australia.  

A rushed tour of the institute denoted the scientific diversity and across IMRE and multi-disciplinary nature of their research. The opportunities offered at the clinic mirrored the core learning objectives of our own nanotechnology program and reinforced the relevance and potential academic prosperity that the opportunity holds. The attitude of the Singaporean government, as well as its commercial sectors towards nano-scaled sciences was refreshing and was a physical incarnate of the future of my peers, the industry and myself. The tour of IMRE and presentations regarding the promising future of A-Star and the institute reinforce my own concessions on the future of Nanotechnology whilst laying rest to industrial and occupational insecurities.

– Trey Guest