This has been a topic in some even quite heated discussions in Singapore during the summer months. What kind of role can a small country play? Without taking any side in the discussion concerning Singapore, I am asking that question for my own country, Finland, a Nordic nation with 5.5 million inhabitants, mostly of Finnish ethnic origin, but with much bigger land area than the Red Dot we live in.
Countries need branding to stay competitive in the global market. A brand is not a label you can merely attach to a product: it is built over time and reflects the true nature of the “product”, in this case, a country.
Finland has a strong brand, but it is not that well known here in South-East Asia where most Singaporeans know Finland for the Northern lights, for the good quality education, for Nokia (although many are unaware of how Nokia once again managed to transform into yet another success story), and Angry Birds. But there is so much more: the story just needs to be told.
This year, Finland is widely telling its story thanks to the opportunity given by the 100 years of independence celebration. Finland has been more in the spotlight in Singapore during this Anniversary year, and thanks to the collaboration between Suomi Finland 100 Singapore association, Finnish Business Council and Embassy of Finland, we have been able to build new or stronger bridges between our two small countries. We are showing how this Nordic country built itself to be among the best in the world measured in different comparative studies, often being cited alongside with Singapore.
Still coming up this year: in September, a so-called “Superweek”, starting with the visit of the Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland, Mrs Anne Berner, who will also take the opportunity of cheering our two Finnish drivers, Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas. There will be SLUSH and Women in Tech, both headed by Finnish businesswomen. The City of Helsinki will come to Singapore, headed by the Mayor of Helsinki, Mr Jan Vapaavuori, for a series of events. The Helsinki delegation’s main event, the Education Summit, “Designing Future Education” will be on 21st September.
In October, we have the first ever Finnish Film Festival in Singapore, at the Projector; Finnish Chorus master Mari Koistinen will conduct a chorus workshop open to the public, in collaboration with the Anglo-Chinese Junior College Alumni Choir Singapore; Finnish Conductor Hannu Lintu will conduct the SSO and lastly, there will be an art exhibition of artist Soile Yli-Mäyry.
In November we will wrap up all themes we have touched during the year at Huone Events Hotel Singapore, with four thematic ‘Finland Fridays’. And in the Gardens by the Bay, a Finnish themed White Christmas will fill the Flower dome for a period of seven weeks.
December 6th, the Grand 100th Birthday party will take place, the same date when independence was declared, 100 years ago.
To conclude, by Christmas this year, we would like to be able to say, that a small country can as a matter of fact, be bigger than its size, by having a positive impact for the good things it represents.
Ambassador of Finland in Singapore