Mr Richard Tan, Chairman of the SINGPEX 2019 Organising Committee,

Mr Vincent Phang, CEO (Postal Services and Singapore),

Dr Prakob Chirakiti, FIAP President,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

          It is a pleasure to welcome you to SINGPEX 2019 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition.  Over the next four days, many exhibitors, postal administrations, dealers and auction houses from across the world will be at this exhibition to showcase interesting and rare philately items from the early days of the Straits Settlements, Singapore, Malaya and various parts of the world.  This is a rare and exciting opportunity for philatelists, historians, and even the general public who are interested to re-live history through these stamps, and I am sure many of you are raring to see them.

2          The poet William Butler Yeats said “Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described as the silent ambassadors of national taste.”  Stamps are very much miniature works of art, as well as historical artefacts.  Since the issuance of the first stamp, the Penny Black in United Kingdom and Ireland on 1 May 1840, stamps have traced the passage of time and served as a record of significant events in history.  As every philatelist well knows, we can learn much of a country’s past, present and even its future through stamps.

3          Singapore’s very first stamps after independence - entitled “Survival In A Challenging Future In A Multi-Racial Society” – came in a set of three, incorporating the three fundamentals of our young nation in 1966: Workers, Factories and Housing.  Today, stamps continue to help forge Singapore’s identity, with Singaporeans using their imagination and creativity to share ideas, express artistic individuality, or create their take on the Singapore story.  More recently, you may have heard about the Nursery Rhymes stamp issue, which featured eight well-loved English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil nursery rhymes popular among the young children in Singapore.  This stamp issue won the top prize in the graphic design category at the Singapore Creator Awards earlier this year.

4          In Singapore, stamp collecting is actively promoted through various programmes run by philately associations, stamp clubs and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.  Some of these programmes include the National Stamp Collecting Competition (NSCC), and the Draw My Stamp Story Art Competition for students. In fact, we have seven exhibits by student winners from the NSCC at this event.  Alyssa’s team from Serangoon Secondary School celebrated humanity through culture whilst Ke Ying’s team’s “Space: The New Frontier” used stamps to portray man’s fascination and exploratory spirit in space.  Through their stamps and other philately items, these youths have transformed themselves into story-tellers.

5          I am also glad to note that while philately – the study and appreciation of stamps and postal history - dates back almost 200 years, our philatelic community is a very modern one that has kept up with the times.  The community has been a keen user of technology, leveraging social media platforms to engage the public and share interesting philately contents, promote stamp designing and run contests for general public participation.  It has been especially encouraging to see the stamp-collecting community continue to engage and interest the young in stamp collecting through digital channels.

6          This year, Singapore is commemorating the Singapore Bicentennial – the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in Singapore in 1819.  This is an important milestone in our rich and storied history.  As part of Singapore’s celebrations in tracing our journey from Singapore to Singaporean, and our growth and development over the last 700 years, we continue with the tradition of issuing stamps to commemorate Singapore’s current developments.  This June, we issued a special set of 10 stamps – depicting key events from before Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore; our current achievements; and a vision of our country’s future.

7          Stamps were first conceived for a more practical purpose - as payment for conveyance of letter mail and other postal items, and were instrumental in connecting people and facilitating logistics and delivery services.  Through stamps, people found an economical way to communicate over long distances, long before the advent of the telephone – much less the Internet.  In fact, 2019 actually marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first airmail in Singapore, through a flight that began in November 1919 in London, England, and ended in Darwin, Australia, with Singapore as one of the stops in its four-week long journey. The pilots, Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith, had to chart their own route, without the aid of modern instrumentation such as GPS to guide their flight.

8          To commemorate this milestone in international mail, and to celebrate the pioneering and adventurous spirits of all who were involved in that remarkable adventure, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of the special stamp issue on the “100 years of first airmail” at SINGPEX 2019.

9          We have come a long way since those early days of the first airmail.  While people are sending fewer letters these days, stamps continue to play a significant and evolving role in connecting people, in recording and celebrating events, and in sharing information about our countries, bringing the world a little closer.  In that regard, the SINGPEX 2019 exhibition plays a significant role in showcasing the stamp exhibits from around the world, and especially our region.  This is the seventh time Singapore has organised a stamp exhibition of such an international scale.  The exhibits continue to attract crowds, attesting to the wide appeal of stamps.  For me, I am particularly looking forward to seeing the Straits Settlements Exhibit, with early letters and postal markings from Penang, Malacca and Singapore Indian stamps; as well as Straits Settlements stamps used abroad.

10          In conclusion, I would like to thank the Association of Singapore Philatelists, Singapore Post and the organising team for their dedication and hard work in making the SINGPEX 2019 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition a reality.  I wish you every success with this event and in continuing to bring the world together through a shared interest in and passion for stamps.

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