Written by Jeannie Tay | Image by David Royster
US Ambassador Kirk Wagar (left) addressing questions from the audience, in a session moderated by Yale-NUS College President Lewis Pericles (right)
“The United States is always on a path to perfect our union,” said Mr Kirk Wagar, United States Ambassador to Singapore, as he inaugurated the US Embassy Global Affairs Speaker Series at Yale-NUS College on 28 January 2016.
In front of a packed audience at the Yale-NUS College Performance Hall, Ambassador Wagar spoke about the role of the US in the world today. With representatives from countries all over the world, Ambassador Wager noted that the diversity of backgrounds has profoundly informed the world view of the US. “I feel it is innate in our DNA that we feel that it is our obligation to try to help and improve people’s lives,” said Ambassador Wagar as he explained how the US sees itself.
A collaboration between the US Embassy and Yale-NUS College, this new speaker series brings influential leaders and thinkers on US policy to Singapore and the Yale-NUS College campus. Under the auspices of this series, prominent members of the US government and private sector share their expertise and views on a diverse range of US policy and political issues. Members of the public and students from across Singapore are welcomed to attend these lectures, enabling them to gain better understanding on issues of import and insight into how global affairs are conducted in the contemporary era.
In his speech titled ‘President Obama’s State of the Union Address and US – Singapore Relations’, Ambassador Wagar touched on a wide range of topics in the next fifty years of US – Singapore relations, including the enduring US presence in Asia, the US electoral process, to the role of race and religion in America today.
On the US’ role in the region, Ambassador Wagar explained how it was in the US’ core national interests to be involved in Asia, a fast growing region both in terms of population and economy. “Organically, we have been moving our people, our assets into this region for the last 70 years,” said Ambassador Wagar, who added that US companies have been a positive presence in Asia for a long time – hiring and training locals and giving back to the community via corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.
Ambassador Wagar also had an active discussion with Yale-NUS students during the Q&A session on a wide range of topics. On whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can be considered a boon and bane, Ambassador Wagar opined that the TPP is necessary in order to enable all the involved parties to be on a level playing field and it will benefit small and medium companies in this region and raise labour and environmental standards.