SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Singapore Pools 55th Anniversary Celebrations

Speech by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Singapore Pools 55th anniversary celebrations on 23 May 2023.


Mrs Mildred Tan
Chairman, Singapore Totalisator Board

Mr Kai Nargolwala
Chairman, Singapore Pools

Mr Lam Chee Weng
CEO, Singapore Pools

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a real pleasure for me to join you today to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Singapore Pools.

Pooling Resources for Collective Benefit

Singapore Pools has done far more than provide lottery and sports betting services. It has from the outset been about serving the public good, not only by curbing illegal gambling but by channelling resources into the sports and social welfare. Along the way, the arts, heritage and other forms of community development have also received its support.

You could say there has always been an unintended pun in its name, for Singapore Pools has really sought to pool resources for the collective benefit.

In fact, that began in 1968 itself, with Singapore Pools helping raise funds to build our first National Stadium in Kallang. The newspapers then carried a slogan: “Win big money and help build one of the finest sports complexes in South-east Asia”.

Those who purchased one of the two million coupons distributed by Singapore Pools back then played their part in giving birth to the Kallang Roar and Kallang Wave at the old National Stadium. We may not hear much of a Kallang Roar today, but the Kallang Wave is still alive and well!

Singapore Pools went on to support other iconic projects such as the Singapore Indoor Stadium (built in 1988) and the Esplanade (built in 1996).

But sports, music, and the arts have remained at the core of Pools’ DNA. We know that these activities bring us together, and how we deepen national identity. But they need backing. They need best-in-class facilities: stadiums for our athletes, studios for our musicians, and galleries for our artists. And Singapore Pools has stepped up to make that happen.

Besides supporting these causes through the Tote Board, which deploys Singapore Pools’ surpluses, its direct commitment to sports, arts and culture remains significant. From the annual Football with a Heart fundraiser, which raised a record of over $1 million last year, to the True Colours Festival concert, the international performing arts festival that puts the spotlight on differently-abled artists.

Tonight, we are privileged to have with us two beneficiaries: Sky Shen and Claire Teo. Their stories are inspiring. Sky didn’t let muscular dystrophy deter his passion and talent in music, and Claire, despite her visual impairment, became the first visually impaired graduate from the Lasalle College of the Arts, as a theatre actress.

They have been able to pursue their dreams thanks to Singapore Pools support for Art:Dis over the years, including most recently the funding of renovations of the music studio at Art:Dis. It is at Art:Dis, which is now a professionally equipped and disability-friendly space, that Sky recorded his first musical recording.

We look forward to Sky and Claire’s performances tonight, and other notable artistes with disabilities such as Faith Music’s Fire Rainbow Band and Metta Percussion which started us off in tonight’s celebrations.

And beyond sports, arts and music, Singapore Pools has been committed to community development and social services. Over the years, it has converted its branches to spaces that social service agencies and charities can operate from, and this year, it will convert an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space for the community.

Before I conclude, let me take this moment to underscore the increasing significance of the Singapore Pools’ role in the fight against illegal gambling, even as we have to contend with an evolving, and increasingly complex gaming landscape.

Your commitment to fostering responsible gaming is recognised globally – in fact, you achieved the highest global level of certification from the World Lottery Association Responsible Gaming Framework last year, for the fourth consecutive time since 2012.

Concluding Remarks

So as we commemorate this 55th anniversary, I thank Singapore Pools for your invaluable contributions, and I look forward to your continuing innovations and endeavours in helping to build an uplifting and inclusive society in Singapore.