Fischer ‘impressed’ by Singapore

Austrian President Heinz Fischer has made his second visit to Asia within four months.Fischer, who met with Malaysia’s political elite last November, was welcomed by leading politicians and businesspeople in Singapore yesterday (Mon) and today. The former vice chairman of the Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) – who is currently serving a second and final term as federal president – is being accompanied by a delegation of entrepreneurs.Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, who is also part of the Austrian group, praised Singapore as a “gateway to Southeast Asia”.The minister, who visited New Zealand and Australia last week, said: “Singapore and Austria have a lot in common such as the engagement in encouraging the dialogue of cultures and religions.”Fischer said he was “impressed” by the strong state support for science projects and research initiatives in Singapore. Some commentators have regarded this statement as criticism of the Austrian SPÖ-ÖVP government coalition’s austerity measures affecting the education and science branch.