Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF Chairman, at the SIF 25th Anniversary Dinner, One Farrer Hotel, Singapore

President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam,
Distinguished Guests,
Friends and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

While we gather this evening to commemorate a significant milestone for SIF, our hearts are heavy with the recent demise of our former Patron and 6th President of Singapore – Mr. SR Nathan. Mr. Nathan was the SIF’s patron from 2001 - 2011. Mr. Nathan kept the good of the common people close to his heart and worked tirelessly to improve their lives. As patron, Mr. Nathan was a champion of SIF’s work to bring Singaporeans and world communities closer together. He was also much loved by our staff and volunteers. Please rise and join me to spend a few moments to reflect on the life and work of Mr. Nathan.

Twenty-five years ago, the SIF started with a small team of staff members and volunteers. Today, the SIF has more than 65 full-time employees and thousands of volunteers involved in various activities spread over 13 countries. We believe our work has created a positive impact on the local communities where SIF operates in.

Tonight, we wish to express our sincere appreciation to our sponsors, partners and friends who share and support the SIF vision of connecting Singaporeans to the rest of the world and nurturing global friendships for a better world. SIF now has a network of more than 650 partners in the public, private and people sectors. Many of them are represented here on this occasion. Many more partners from abroad would have liked to join us but could not do so. They have instead sent in their video greetings.

We are always aware of SIF’s limited resources, but we do not let that narrow our vision of what we can achieve together. Staying focused on the SIF mission, our partnerships have helped enrich lives and effect positive change across many communities.

SIF is particularly proud of its network of young changemakers. They are the 480 young social entrepreneurs representing 23 nationalities with social enterprises in 12 countries. They demonstrated creativity and innovation as they launched start-ups with passion and compassion for their fellow human beings. We look forward to these enterprises going places with their energy and ideas.  

In addition, I must highlight our global network of over 30,000 Friends of Singapore. These FOS are mainly alumni of SIF programmes and projects. When we include our online community of over 400, 000 who continue to work with SIF and support our mission of building international understanding and development, there is much to cheer and celebrate.

To our sponsors, partners, citizen ambassadors and friends, none of our work would be possible without your contributions – be it funding, resources, time or expertise. Your efforts and support throughout the years have been heartwarming and motivational. I thank you all for your unrelenting support as we bring Singaporeans and world communities together to share ideas, skills and experiences to effect positive change and make a difference. Your knowledge and wealth of experience in your respective fields have been immensely critical, as you bring valuable insights on our various areas of work in education, healthcare, environment, business and livelihood as well as arts and culture. 

Moving forward, SIF will be adaptive and design programmes in response to the changing needs and requirements of our partners and the communities we work in.  While we are still a relatively small and young organisation, our ambition remains big – and we know we can never do it alone. I humbly ask that you stay the course with us.

If you have not had the opportunity to do so yet, do meet with my colleagues later and view our exhibits in the foyer to explore more collaboration opportunities with us. We seek your partnership for good as we believe far more can be accomplished when we harness the magic of connections and leverage our collective strengths.

In closing, I would like to thank our Patron, President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam for gracing this special occasion. Your presence today, Mr. President, is a strong affirmation of the importance of the SIF mission.

Last but not least, my sincere appreciation to the SIF Board of Governors and staff for all the hard work in helping us achieve our vision of making friends for a better world. I know that each and every one of you has put your heart and soul into our mission.

Please enjoy the rest of the evening’s programme and most importantly, the fellowship.   We have with us friends who are based in Singapore and many who have made the journey from afar to join us.  I encourage all of you to make a few new friends tonight and explore ways you can work together!  Remember, it's not about where we are from, it's about where we are going collectively.

Thank you.



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