Photo: Singapore MFA.Photo: Singapore MFA

Surprising Commonalities: Sam Tan on why the Sami People are important to Singapore

Singapore’s Minister of State Sam Tan’s participation in the celebration of Sami culture in Norway might be a perfect illustration of how new global challenges are uncovering common ground between groups that transcend geography, culture and history.

“Tråante 2017,” the 100th anniversary of the first Sami cross-border congress, was marked last week with a range of cultural and political events in Trondheim, Norway. Among the distinguished guests was Mr. Tan, who, during an address at the 21st Sami Conference 10 February, outlined the shared interest of Singapore and the Sami Council to work actively to mitigate the effects of climate change and seek out new opportunities arising from the current developments.

“We are united by our commitment to the Arctic, which is also an integral part of Sami heritage, culture, and way of life,” said Mr. Tan. He emphasised how changes in the vulnerable region is not just a problem for the people who live there, but will have widespread effects with global implications.

“Changes in the Arctic create ripples to other parts of the world away as sea ice melts,” he said.

The Sami Council represents the indigenous Sami people in Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden. Founded in 1956, the Council is a permanent participant in the Arctic Council where Singapore became a permanent observer nation in 2013.

In addition, Mr. Tan pointed out how Singapore and the Northern European countries also share other common traits, such as being diverse nations comprised of different peoples and groups.

“Even as global trends seek to withdraw and become more exclusive,” he said, “we who live in these multicultural societies must maintain our social harmony and celebrate our diversity despite our differences, while preserving a common space for all to interact.”


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