Praising Singapore's support through agencies like the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore for India in combating the current COVID-19 pandemic, he said they used their database and contacts to tell the mission where the necessary equipment can be found and the suppliers to reach out to.
Singapore’s position as an important trading and logistics hub turned out to be useful for the Indian High Commission here to source the much-needed supplies of COVID-19-related medical equipment, including oxygen tanks and cylinders, High Commissioner P. Kumaran has said.
Praising Singapore’s support through agencies like the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Singapore for India in combating the current COVID-19 pandemic, he said they used their database and contacts to tell the mission where the necessary equipment can be found and the suppliers to reach out to.
“We sourced for these much needed items from many countries,” Kumaran told Singapore’s Friday weekly tabloid on Indian affairs, tabla! “We were able to get items from Australia and other Asian countries quickly into Singapore and then transport them to India on Indian naval ships and air force aircraft,” he said. “Singapore’s position as an important trading and logistics hub came in useful for us,” the envoy said.
The High Commissioner pointed out that the Singapore government-linked companies have also donated equipment for use in India’s fight against the pandemic. Temasek Foundation sent 8,000 oxygen concentrators, 100 oxygen cylinders, 50,000 pulse oximeters, over 100 BiPAPs and 200 ventilators to India.
DBS donated three oxygen tanks and Sea Group gave 750 oxygen cylinders, while Singapore Exchange donated money through Red Cross Singapore. Some 255 oxygen cylinders were transported via two Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 planes to West Bengal on April 28.
Singapore’s Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry gave quick clearances to Indian Naval ships and aircraft coming to Singapore Changi Naval Base and the Pay Lebar Air Base to ferry home the urgently needed supplies.
Initially, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan who promised all support, the envoy said.
Kumaran said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung had asked during a meeting at an event a couple of weeks ago about the efforts of procuring relief supplies and “whether we were getting all the support required”.
“What it tells me is that Singapore’s Cabinet ministers are aware of the support that is necessary for India and have been supportive. It is very heartening,” the envoy said.
Indian-owned companies in Singapore, such as IOCL, GAIL, ITC, TATA Group, Adani, Reliance, Transworld Group and Executive Ship Management have also contributed equipment to the relief supplies. “India’s needs are enormous. So we have to source from all over,” said Kumaran.
The Singapore India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, Global Indian International School and several Indian community-based associations have also helped in source and financing equipment for India to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian diaspora in Singapore have also stepped up to support India’s COVID-19 relief efforts. The Pan IIM Alumni raised more than SGD 5.4 million and the investor foundation community, The Indus Entrepreneurs’ Singapore chapter raised more than SGD 3 million.
Kumaran said that India too came to Singapore’s aid during the early months of COVID-19 spread last year. “Last year, when many countries locked down as a reaction to the rising numbers (of COVID-19), a lot of them even stopped exports to take care of their own demands,” he said.
“India was one of the few countries that did not stop exports. We kept essential services running and agricultural exports going. “At a time when Singapore was suddenly faced with difficulties in sourcing basic items like rice and vegetables, India had these items open for exports,” he told the tabloid.