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Singapore Government

Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at The MSF Volunteer Awards 2018

Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at The MSF Volunteer Awards 2018

Our valued MSF Volunteers

Friends of MSF

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

1   We are honoured to host you this evening as we celebrate our volunteers and friends who have journeyed with us.

  • To all 163 recipients of our MSF Volunteer Awards - express our heartfelt appreciation to you.
  • Your stories of volunteering and selfless giving have touched us. Thank you for unwavering commitment to serving the vulnerable and those in need.

SG Cares

2   It is also a good time for us to reflect on how far we have come as a society, and focus on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us.

  • Singapore is at a crossroads. Our society is at a crossroads. Our economy is maturing; our society is ageing. And there are significant challenges before us on the social and economic fronts, as the pace of economic development moderates and there are greater demands for social spending increase.
  • We have put in place a social safety net with multiple layers of assistance, so those in need receive targeted support and assistance to regain their confidence.
  • But moving forward, we need to work together and collaborate even more intensively with our partners across the people and private sectors so that we can provide a more integrated and holistic community of support for the vulnerable amongst us. That is a major vision we have set out to do about a year ago.

3   And this is where volunteers like yourselves play a very important role.

  • When someone is in need, both our officers and volunteers on the ground. Whether it's helping an elderly person with dementia find her way home, or lending a listening ear to your neighbour, there is no act of kindness too small.

4   Most of you would have heard of the SG Cares movement, it is a community movement, a national movement, to celebrate and encourage more Singaporeans to step forward to volunteer, as you have, in order to inspire one another to give. We are encouraged see the number of pledges growing steadily, and many more are putting kindness and goodness into daily actions.

  • We are focusing our efforts to encourage both corporate and individual giving, and to support ground-up initiatives and helping them to flourish.
  • If you haven't already done so, I encourage all of you to download the SG Cares app to find out more about how you and your community can contribute and for you to share your unique stories of giving. Your stories are important as they inspire others to step forward.

Honouring the Award Recipients

5   Today, we celebrate the achievements of our MSF volunteers. Every one of you has made a positive impact and helped set others on the path of volunteering through your exemplary leadership.

  • You have taught us that we must first look at ourselves - our time, resources and skills- even as we look beyond ourselves to embrace the spirit of volunteerism and reach out to those who need help.

6   There is no better example than tonight's recipient of the Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award, Dr Gerard Ee.

  • He is a very humble man who does not enjoy accolades. But we must, because if we do not celebrate those who give, then we let society down.
  • For over three decades, Dr Ee has selflessly given his time and expertise to champion social causes in Singapore.
  • And with his vast experience in the charity and corporate sectors, Dr Ee played an instrumental role in strengthening our social service sector.
  • As Chairman of the Charity Council, he refined the Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character in 2017, taking care to strike a balance between good governance and internal controls.
  • As President of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Dr Ee developed the Code of Governance and Management for VWOs and established the Social Service Training Institute.
  • In recent years, Dr Ee devoted his efforts toward championing healthcare, and currently sits on the boards of MOH Holdings, SingHealth, and the Agency for Integrated Care.
  • Above all, it is his passion and continued commitment to serve that inspires many. Thank you Dr Ee for reminding us that making a difference to the lives of others is the greatest gift of all.

7   Beyond the time and effort that goes into volunteering, our Outstanding Volunteer Award recipients also show us that it is love for what you do which keeps many of you going day after day, no matter how tough the road ahead:

  • For Sister Bernadette Yap, her 36-year journey of volunteering began with following up on a letter from a child who was struggling because of his parents' marital difficulties. Seeing the positive impact she could make set her on the path to become one of our pioneer Volunteer Managers in Singapore. Today, Sister Bernadette manages a team of over 100 volunteers at NCSS who regularly contribute in a multitude of ways.
  • Growing up with a father who generously gave his time and resources to those in need, Mr Hsieh Fu Hua followed suit and has spent his own lifetime giving back to society. Amidst the 2008 global financial crisis, Mr Hsieh set up Binjai Tree - a charity that allows like-minded individuals and organisations to do their part for causes that are often overlooked by society such as mental health. Mr Hsieh has also leveraged his corporate skills and connections to contribute greatly to the social service sector, especially when he was President of NCSS
  • Moving from an illustrious career, Mr Richard Sim wanted a change and found fulfilment in the social service sector. Over the past decade, Mr Sim has tapped on his corporate background to oversee the strategic restructuring of NCSS and strengthening of governance structures, while motivating countless others to join him on the path of giving. Thank you Richard for making that life changing decision to give.

8   Despite challenges in balancing their personal and professional commitments, our Outstanding Volunteers have demonstrated true selflessness in service.

  • For Mr Azman Anuar, what started as a volunteering stint at the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) has led to his many contributions towards a range of committees in MSF, including the then-MCYS Advisory Board and Discharge Committee, and the MSF Review Committee for Welfare Homes. Mr Azman's dedication can be seen from the care he takes in personally reviewing the cases of the residents.
  • Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear and a sounding board. For Ms Liew Kit Har, being a Volunteer Probation Officer has been a rewarding journey. She tells us that to be able to stand by her beneficiaries and witness them turning their lives around is the greatest reward she could ask for.
  • Close to two decades have passed since Ms Juthika Ramanathan joined the Committee on Fostering. What keeps her going is a personal conviction that her work on the committee ensures the highest standards of care for foster children and enables her to initiate moves towards child-centred practices.
  • Amongst our winners today are two sets of foster parents. For more than 15 years, Mdm Mary and Mr Rammiah, as well as Mdm Norlia and Mr Roslan have opened their hearts and homes to 6 foster children each. What has kept them going all these years is the firm belief that every child deserves a loving home. I would like to thank all our foster families who have taken time to join us this evening.

9   Today, we also celebrate the achievements of our Long Service Award recipients as well as our Friends of MSF. You have demonstrated that there is no sacrifice too big when it comes to giving, as long as it comes from the heart.

  • I encourage everyone here to continue championing your various causes, to continue shining as a beacon, and to be open to new and sustainable ways of giving.
  • The insights from your volunteering journeys will also go towards strengthening our support for the vulnerable.
  • So we invite everyone - individuals, groups and organisations - to join hands with us in this collective effort to build a city, a society and a Singapore, that we can be proud of, where every person is respected and valued, and no one is left behind.

Closing

10   To all our volunteers - I haven't had the opportunity to thank each and every one of you as it would have taken the entire dinner -  thank you for dedicating your lives to causes greater than ourselves. You have taught us what it means to be the best version of ourselves.

11   I also want to thank the family members and friends of our volunteers who have been their pillars of strength and support. Many of you have joined us this evening to celebrate the achievements of our volunteers. Like us, you must be very proud of them. I hope that very soon, you too will become part of our MSF Volunteer family.

12   Please join me once again in giving all our award recipients a big round of applause. I wish you all a wonderful evening ahead.

Thank you.

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