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Will Singapore ever have its own Hillary Clinton?

US Secretary of State gave her speech at Singapore Management University. (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)

Strolling in confidently in a blue coloured suit and tapered pants, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a concise speech on Washington’s economic strategy at the Singapore Management University on Saturday morning.

But as she spoke to the media and invited members of the public, Clinton also made a call on countries to lower the barriers that might still be in the way of women enjoying equality, economically and culturally.

"A level playing field means lowering the barriers that keep women from fully participating in the global economy...No nation can achieve the kind of growth that we all want and need if half the population never gets to compete," Clinton said.

Clinton had arrived in the city-state on Friday to meet up with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Foreign Minister K Shanmugam and elder statesmen Lee Kuan Yew.

She also made a trip to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting comes ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit where she is slated to join US President Barack Obama in Cambodia.

Much attention is focused on the 65-year old politician for what is widely speculated to be her last world tour as the Secretary of State.

And if diplomatic achievements were measured by the number of countries visited, Clinton would be hailed as the most accomplished secretary of state in history.

“It was a great opportunity because I’ve been following her work and admiring her work since I was a public policy student in the US,” said Pia Bruce, executive director of the United Nations Women Singapore committee.

Bruce added that she is happy to hear in Clinton's “comprehensive speech” the emphasis on achieving women equality and “thereby global economic prosperity”.

One of Singapore’s former presidential candidates, Tan Jee Say, praised Clinton’s insights. “It is such a fantastic speech, and it reinforces U.S.’s commitment to this region which I think is good. They’ve neglected for a long time and now Burma – she calls it Burma – and Cambodia have given her the motivation to open up finally this whole area.”

While the question of whether Clinton will continue office or take on another role in the Obama administration hangs in the balance, Tan said, “You can see the dynamism in the lady. I hope she goes for presidency for the United States in 2016.”

Christine Teo, 22, a fourth-year SMU undergraduate in business and social science said though, “Even if this is her last world tour, I don’t think we’ve really seen the last of her yet both as a leader and inspiring figure for leaders across the globe.”

Does Singapore have its own ‘Hillary Clinton’?

Chiming in on whether Singapore will eventually see a female minister rise to a similar stature as the Chicago-born politician though, third-year SMU social science undergraduate, Tan Yu Xun, 23, remains apprehensive.

“Gender inequality is much less prevalent [in the US]… It’s possible for women to achieve the stature of Hillary Clinton, but I think this is not really the case in Singapore yet. We do have MPs like Sylvia Lim but I think largely, we are still a way off.”

However, SMU law undergraduate Dierdre Grace Morgan, 22, thinks otherwise.

“I don’t think people think along gender lines in Singapore [now]. So, I mean if there’s really a suitable woman candidate who can show that she’s able to serve and able to make decisions best for Singapore, I do think we’re willing to accept her," she said.