Tag Archives: High Commision

High commission. Suit up.

After an early start it was nice to suit up and feel important. The humid morning soon turned the nice suit into a sweat cocoon. After a quick train and bus ride with an iced drink at the end to help me cool off. We soon entered the Australian high commission where we were greeted with a beautiful embassy showcasing the relationship between Australia and Singapore including the Colombo program. The group was greeted by two women who worked there. They spoke to us about the Singapore-Australia relationship, including extremely close defence relations being at the core of the relationship, details about the free trade agreement, and education exchanges between respective countries universities. We then had a more informal chat with the lady about Singapore, and her experience as an Australian living in Singapore.
Singapore is quite amazing in the way that it is so strong economically while having no natural resources. Building its wealth off crude oil processing, financial processing, and a large pharmaceutical  industry. This has allowed Singapore to be as strong as it has been. 

Then we rushed back to the accommodation and got changed quickly then rushed off to the IMRE, Institute for materials, research, and education. We were given presentations by two males that worked at A*STAR, which is a government organisation which does research and development for industries in Singapore, from small scale to large multinationals.

We then had a tour of the facilities where we saw a range of different laboratories and equipment which are very useful for nanotechnology. During a break I was able to network with a man doing his PhD in lithium ion batteries and the carbon structures used to hold them in the anode.


High Commision and IMRE

This morning we had to dress up in our suits and ties to visit the Australian high commision. I wasn’t looking forward to walking around in my suit outside because of how humid it is here, but surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. We took public transport to the high commision and arrived early so we stopped to get some coffee nearby.

After coffee we walked over to the high commision, where we had to pass through airport security basically, we all got through successfully. The lobby of the commision had a modern, industrial feel to it and it was much cooler than outside. We were greeted by Jennifer, and Tracy, whom gave an informal talk to us about the relationship between Australia and Sinagpore.   Singapore’s relationship with Australia is a very close one, there are connections in almost all aspects of governenment and both have similar views on many topics. Australia and Singapore also have mamy commomalities as they are both relatively young countries and have a very diverse, multicultural background. After the talk, we had a disscussion session with the speakers accompanied by some morning tea.

Once morning tea was finished, we came back to our accomodation where we had half an hour to get changed and get lunch, let me say, getting a footlong Subway was a bad choice, I don’t think I have ever eaten one that fast before.

After getting changed we caught the NUS shuttle bus to the institute of materials and engineering (IMRE) where we were greeted by Dr Sean O’Shea and he gave us a brief outline on what IMRE do. We then had a tour around some of the facalities, such as the optics lab, where Dr Nikodem explained one microscopy technique that can detect light from single molcules, which was pretty interesting but complicated. Next, we went to a nanocomposites lab where Dr Warintorn gave us a tour and showed us a carbon fibre tube which is going to be used for new, light weight bicycles, which was awesome. We then went and looked at some SEM equipment, that looked like some alien tech, after that the day was completed and I went back to my accomodation and rested.


Science, Politics and Pork Buns


Today was the first early start of the study tour, with the leaving time set at precisely 8am. Our first scheduled visit was to the Australian High Commission, wherein we were to hear from Deputy High Commissioner Julie Heckscher, as well as Third Secretary Jennifer Burdick and Austrade Commisioner Tracy Harris. Unfortunately, Julie Heckscher had been sick for several days, so she was not able to speak. Instead, we had an interesting talk with Jennifer and Tracy, covering topics such as the similarities/differences between Singaporean and Australian politics and the bi-lateral relationship between the two countries.

It was interesting to hear how exactly Australian and Singaporean politics differed; the same general parliamentary democracy structure is employed in both countries, however there are some key differences. For example, the winning party in the Singaporean system has the majority of the seats, and so there is little voice given to any members of the opposing party. This is not the case in Australia, where the opposing party will always retain a reasonably high number of seats in parliament, and has power to vote on what legislation is passed.

With regards to the bi-lateral relationship, it is obvious that both countries are fairly heavily invested in the other, specifically in areas such as defense, trade, tourism and education. However, it certainly seems that there is a potential for research collaboration that is not yet fully utilised.

After a quick lunch back at the University Town (pork buns and dumplings for myself), we then proceeded to the Institute for Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). We listened to two speakers, Drs Sean O’Shea and Evan Williams, about the activities of A*STAR and IMRE, and we discussed the Materials Center of Innovation (MCOI). We then toured some of the many laboratories in the building, and we were given a brief overview of some of the equipment.

I very much enjoyed learning about the MCOI, which is setup to aid in small and medium enterprise (SME) research, through scientific collaborative research. It was also fascinating to tour the laboratories and to hear exactly how some of the equipment was designed and implemented in modern research.

Overall, it was great to finally start learning about the science of Singapore, and I am more than ever looking forward to the activities planned for the rest of the week.