Andal, Sept. 19: The day the Tatas announced a partnership with Singapore Airlines, Mamata Banerjee played the gracious host to “brothers and sisters” from the island nation.
“Ni hao (hello)… Xie, Xie (thank you),” said the chief minister, flanked by Changi Airports International CEO Lim Liang Song and Singapore high commissioner Lim Thuan Kuan in Andal, 200km from Calcutta, today.
Mamata’s words in Chinese Mandarin, one of the languages widely spoken in Singapore, at the naming ceremony of a private airport were greeted by smiles. The chief minister offered “many thanks to Singapore brothers and sisters” for participating in the airport project.
Changi, which operates the airport in Singapore and is owned by the local government there, holds a strategic stake of 26 per cent in Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd, the company building the airport and a township. Singapore Airlines, which is partnering the Tatas, is based out of Changi and owned by Temasek Holding, a quasi-government entity.
“I am happy that Bengal is getting a new airport, thanks to my Singapore friends,” she said. Although such courtesies are expected in normal course, the chief minister’s gesture drew particular attention at a time Mamata has been trying to focus on industry.
The chief minister requested the “Singapore friends” to invest more in Bengal in different areas, especially in eco-tourism.
Mamata’s praise for Singapore marks a full circle for the project that initially fuelled misgivings in her government, which viewed it as a real estate project. But the government softened its position somewhat after an initiative by Singapore that projected the infrastructure element.