Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Installation of President and the 87th Board of Rotary Club of Singapore on 19 June 2021. Due to COVID-19, DPM Heng delivered his speech via video message.
Outgoing President Dinesh Sharma and Board members
Incoming President Louis Lim and the new Board
Ladies and gentlemen
Good evening. Thank you for inviting me to the installation of the 87th President and Board of the Rotary Club of Singapore.
Although we cannot meet in person, I am glad that you have convened virtually. Which also gives you the chance tonight to invite many more fellow Rotarians from around the region and the world – welcome and hello to all our friends!
Chartered in 1930, the Rotary Club of Singapore is the oldest and now the largest Rotary Club in Singapore.
In its long 91-year history, the Rotary Club of Singapore has made significant contributions to the welfare of the community, promoted greater international understanding, and catalysed many more to give back to society.
And I was a member of one of the Interact Clubs sponsored by the Rotary Club of Singapore when I was a student!
Preparing to join you tonight, I thought back on my student days at Raffles Institution when I was a member of the Interact Club, which was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Singapore.
As young students, we visited old age homes and raised funds for good causes. Our interactions with people with needs, and people with the means to meet these needs, were meaningful. And we had fun interacting with each other. I learnt that working alone, we can make a difference; but working together, we can make an impact.
I enjoyed and was invigorated by the challenge to make a difference in my school and community. The Interact Club’s motto of “Service Above Self” spoke to me, resonating with my own growing views of the importance of leading a meaningful, service-oriented and relationship-centred life.
Rotarians in Singapore will be familiar with the Singapore Together movement, which I launched two years ago, with the aim to open up more opportunities for our people from every part of society to come together in a spirit of partnership, to own, shape and act on our shared future together.
Among the many initiatives, we launched the Alliances for Action. This is a new form of public-private partnership with a strong bias towards action in capturing new areas of opportunities and addressing the challenges we face as a society.
I’m sure you can tell, there is a strong resonance between the Singapore Together movement and the work of the Rotary Club of Singapore.
Over the years, Rotarians in Singapore have brought together players from the public, private and people sectors, to help build a cohesive and caring community, and strengthen the fabric of Singapore’s society.
Take the last year for example. The pandemic showed that those who have less are more vulnerable – it is all the more important for organisations like the Rotary Club of Singapore to mobilise your members and partners to take care of the vulnerable and needy in society. And indeed, you rose to the occasion.
You spearheaded the Rotary Global Grant for the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, that funded the donation of 18,000 face shields and close to 5,000 isolation gowns to our Ministry of Health. In addition, 20,000 reusable masks were donated to the community, with a focus on frontline workers and the more vulnerable.
In the spirit of partnership, the Rotary Club of Singapore is also collaborating with the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health to launch a public health ambassador programme to train over 150 Interactors, Rotaractors and Rotarians to raise awareness on the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dinesh and team seeded this good idea, and Louis and the new board plan to roll out this initiative next month.
This is a very meaningful way in which Rotary Club of Singapore is responding to a challenging situation with partnership, knowledge, and action. I wish you success.
Furthermore, as an engaged member of the international community, your Pandemic Response Global Grants extended beyond Singapore to other countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Brazil.
I understand that we have some Rotarian friends from these countries joining us tonight.
Please let me say, to our friends with us from around the world, we are all joined in a common fight against this virus. And you, as Rotarians, are further allied in a shared commitment to “Service Above Self”.
To overcome this global challenge, we will all need to innovate and work together. There is much that you can share in terms of experiences and ideas, and tonight is another good opportunity to do so.
Rotary Club of Singapore did all this, even as you continued your good work in your focus areas of creating hope for the disadvantaged, and encouraging more to serve with humility, while preserving the rich heritage of the Rotary Club.
I thank outgoing President Dinesh Sharma and his team. And I wish new President Louis Lim, his Board members, and all Rotarians in the Rotary Club of Singapore every success. You have much that you can build on, and even more to build towards.
Congratulations, at this point, on the upcoming Rotary International Convention in 2024 to be hosted in Singapore. We look forward to welcoming our friends from around the world to our sunny shores.
By then, as a global community, I hope that we will have overcome COVID-19 and will be striving together towards a post-pandemic world that is safe, stable, and sustainable.
That will require each of us as members of the global community, and each of you as Rotarians, to continue to stand together and to step forward to serve, lead and inspire.
As we gather to mark the passing of the baton from the 86th President and Board to their successors, let us also celebrate the Rotary Club of Singapore’s rich tradition of passing on values and inspiring through example.
I hope you will continue, through your activities and outreach, to fulfil the Rotary Club’s mission and help bring Singapore Together spirit of partnership and a shared future to new heights.
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