Speech by Ambassador Kesavapany, SIF Governor, at the Inaugural SIF Connects! (Bandung)
Mayor Ridwan Kamil,
Selamat Malam! It is wonderful to see so many familiar faces here with us tonight, and I am even more heartened to have new friends join us this evening.
We celebrate two “firsts” here today. This is the first time we are bringing SIF Connects! to Bandung to reconnect with our Indonesian Friends of Singapore, or FOS. We are also honoured and delighted to be hosted by Mayor Emil, whose friendship with Singapore can be traced back to 1994, when he participated in the SIF-ASEAN Fellowship programme. Thank you Mayor, for your warm hospitality.
SIF Connects! Bandung also celebrates another “first”. It kicks off the first of a series of overseas dialogues that SIF is organising, to involve our FOS in the celebration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence. In March this year, SIF launched the second edition of Singapore: Insights from the Inside. It is a compilation of 50 stories by FOS who have visited, worked and studied in Singapore. They share their personal insights and unique encounters and experiences of Singapore’s head, heart and soul. These stories by our loving critics and critical lovers answer What is Singapore, and in doing so, help promote understanding to bridge communities. It also allows Singaporeans to reflect on its shortcomings and areas for improvement, as well as reminds us of the many blessings we enjoy. We are privileged to have many of our FOS join us this evening to dialogue on What’s next for Singapore. The keen insights and advice from our friends are greatly appreciated, as we shape the next chapters of the Singapore story. What will be shared by our friends this evening, coupled with the insights and advice from our FOS at the other overseas dialogues, will culminate in SIF Connects! Singapore this December. We hope to see you in Singapore at the end of this year.
Ladies and gentlemen,
SIF Connects! Bandung also marks 23 years of meaningful collaborations between the SIF and the people of Indonesia. Over the past two decades, through participation in many projects, Singaporeans and Indonesians have come together to share ideas, skills and resources with each other in areas as diverse as health, education, arts and culture, and social entrepreneurship. The commitment of both Singaporeans and Indonesians to work together to improve lives is testament to the spirit of ‘’gotong royong’’ between our communities. Singapore and Indonesia will mark 50 years of bilateral relations in 2016, and SIF is pleased to have made a contribution to the rich tapestry of relationships between our two countries through our array of programmes at the people-to-people level.
SIF is firmly committed to weaving new threads in the tapestry of relations that bind our communities together. Just two days ago, we launched Phase 2 of our integrated education project in Bandung, in partnership with the Bandung City Education Bureau and Sekolah Menengah Atas Negeri, or SMAN 11. It is heartening to see projects between our peoples succeed and scale the next level; I wish both our Singaporean volunteers spearheading this project and trainees from our project partner SMAN 11, many more years of fruitful collaborations.
SIF brings world communities together to do good, and we want to take this occasion to celebrate the power of these friendships. One of the most emblematic examples of how networks and friendships can be harnessed for good can be found here today. 135 Indonesian alumni of the SIF-ASEAN Fellowship programme, combining the power of networks and their belief in the value of education, rallied together to set up the Indonesia Bright Foundation, or IBF to provide scholarship grants for bright Indonesian students from needy backgrounds. Along with other organisations such as the Indonesian Professional Association in Singapore, SIF is lending our support to IBF for this good work to expand its reach and increase the number of beneficiaries.
SIF Connects! Bandung would not have been possible without the support of our programme alumni and FOS in Indonesia. For this, we convey our heartfelt gratitude to Mayor Emil who readily and warmly opened his home to us, and SIF’s representative in Jakarta Iwan, who rallied the SIF-ASEAN Fellows in Jakarta for the event. We also thank our embassy colleagues in Jakarta for supporting all editions of SIF Connects! in Indonesia, including in Bandung today.\
At the SIF, we make friends for a better world – one that is peaceful, inclusive and offers opportunities for all. And such a world must start with better understanding among people. This celebration of friendships and collaborations between Singaporean and Indonesian communities is a most befitting backdrop for our dialogue, as we shape our path ahead for the next 50 years.
I wish you all a very fruitful exchange of perspectives at the dialogue and a wonderful time reconnecting with friends, both old and new.
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