Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF Chairman, at SIF Connects! Jakarta in Midtown Jakarta Bistro, Jakarta, Indonesia

Ladies and gentlemen
SIF-ASEAN Indonesian Fellows
Friends and Partners

Selamat siang! Welcome and thank you for joining us at the Singapore International Foundation’s SIF Connects! Jakarta.

SIF Connects! is our way of keeping in touch with our Friends of Singapore or FOS, here in Indonesia. This is the sixth time we are reconnecting and rekindling ties with our Indonesian FOS and programme alumni, and each time it is both heartening and humbling that our Indonesian friends continue to warmly reach out and stay in touch with Singapore and SIF.

Since 1992, Singaporeans and Indonesians from all walks of life have come together to share their ideas, skills and resources through SIF programmes - to effect positive change in areas such as education, environment, healthcare, social entrepreneurship and arts and culture. The commitment by our peoples to work together to help build a better world is testament to the spirit of ‘’gotong royong’’ between Singaporeans and Indonesians. Over the years, the partnerships we forged have enabled reciprocal collaborations to solve common challenges and attain shared goals, exemplifying the Indonesian culture of ‘mutual concern and cooperation’.

I would like to share an example of how coming together to share expertise and resources, and mobilising networks has enabled us to make a difference. Between 1993 and 2004, SIF provided scholarships to 135 Indonesian students to study in Singapore for one semester, under the SIF-ASEAN Student Fellowship programme. These 135 Fellows, many of whom are in the room today, embraced the value of education and rallied together to set up the Indonesia Bright Foundation, or IBF. Since 2006, they have helped promising but financially challenged Indonesian students fulfil their academic potential by sponsoring their education. When our friends from IBF expressed their hope for these beneficiaries to be able to travel out of Indonesia and be enriched by new experiences and friendships like they had done so many years ago - SIF responded. In 2014, we initiated a new collaboration with the IBF and Indonesian Professionals’ Association (IPA) in Singapore, to bring together Singaporean and Indonesian communities to inspire, encourage and support the educational growth and development of the IBF scholars. This SIF-IBF-IPA collaboration in education culminated in a study visit to Singapore last December for a group of four IBF undergraduate scholars. Today, their education experience has been enriched with new insights on both our countries’ social innovation, culture and urban development. New friendships have also been forged.

My friends, today’s event is aptly, a triple celebration of the enduring friendships between Singapore and Indonesia nurtured through SIF programmes over the past 24 years. First, we celebrate the successful culmination of the collaboration in education between SIF, IBF and IPA. The four undergraduate scholars who participated in the study visit last December, Atik, Jalal, Mira and Yuli, will share with us their experiences and takeaways from the study visit to Singapore. They will also share their thoughts on areas that both countries can learn from each other. This sharing of ideas and insights will help us to better our understanding of one another as we build a better world together.

Second, we celebrate the growth of partnerships and friendships between Singaporean and Indonesian communities. Today, SIF, IBF and IPA will renew our commitment to deepen the positive impact of our collaboration in education. Over the next two years, we will work together to nurture a new generation of future leaders from Indonesia. We aim to do this through capacity building efforts such as mentorship sessions for IBF beneficiaries to inspire and motivate them, and an enhanced study visit to Singapore next year for a larger pool of beneficiaries.

Last, but not least, we celebrate how networks and friendships can be harnessed for good. For instance, the last SIF Connects! held in Bandung, where we reconnected with our Indonesian FOS in 2015, was generously hosted by Mayor Ridwan Kamil, an SIF-ASEAN Indonesian Fellow.

Partnerships are at the heart of what we do and we are pleased to reappoint SIF-ASEAN Fellow Iwan as SIF’s representative in Jakarta for the third time. Iwan is our champion for strengthening ties between Singaporean and Indonesian communities, and we are delighted that he will continue to support SIF’s efforts in this area. I would also like to acknowledge our partner IPA for flying all the way to Jakarta to reconnect with friends.

At the SIF, we connect international communities to enable collaborations that effect positive change to create a more peaceful world that is more inclusive and offers opportunities for all. Your presence here today truly reflects the importance of international friendships and the power of connections to create a better world. Thank you and I wish you an enjoyable afternoon ahead.



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