20 February 2012

Your Excellencies

Ladies & Gentlemen


Good afternoon and welcome to the Singapore International Foundation’s sixth Ideas for a Better World Forum.

The SIF believes that a better world can be built through shared ideas, skills and experiences. This led us to start this Forum last March, bringing together global thought leaders for a lively exchange of ideas and perspectives. In so doing, we hope to spark actions and collaborations that help make this world a better one.

The Internet and the rise in social media are fast shaping the way we communicate, breaking down barriers such as physical distance, time differences and costly phone charges. In an increasingly connected world, we believe that infocomm technology and social media have great potential to effect positive change in our daily living.

From the reclusive Himalayan nation of Bhutan where SIF volunteers are teaching the use of IT in education, to here in Singapore where we are sharing with our international friends insights into the city’s digital media developments, the SIF is riding this wave to help enrich lives and deepen understanding.

As we seek to explore more ways of harnessing the power of social media for good at this Forum, it is our privilege to have as our keynote speaker, Mr Andy Ridley, Executive Director and Co-founder of Earth Hour. The success of Earth Hour, which began in Sydney five years ago, speaks for itself. Today, it is an annual global campaign involving hundreds of millions of people taking one simple action of switching off our lights to fight climate change. We are eager to learn from his experiences in using different forms of media to galvanise individuals and organisations to engage in action for good.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, we have as a homegrown example of a youth-initiated online social movement that provides the opportunity for everyone to donate or volunteer for local charities. We are delighted that one of its founders, Aseem Thakur, is here today as one of our panellists.

Making up the rest of the panel are Dr Cherian George and Mr Walter Lim. As an associate professor at the Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information, one of Cherian’s research interests is the Internet’s impact on society. Walter is a member of the Singapore government’s new media network and a regular blogger on business, marketing and social media ideas. I believe their respective experiences will add much depth and colour to our discussion today.

I would also like to thank Augustine Anthuvan for taking the time to moderate our Forum. Augustine is a veteran broadcast journalist and I am sure he will lead us in a fruitful and engaging dialogue today.

There is a quote which says that “a mind, once stretched by a new idea, can never regain its original dimensions”. I am confident that this Forum will challenge and inspire us to think more creatively and act more boldly – such that both our own lives and that of others may be enriched.

Thank you once again for taking the time to be with us today. Our next Forum at the end of this month will focus on the topic of nurturing young social entrepreneurs. It will feature Mr Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman of the Population Development International, as our keynote speaker. Mr Viravaidya is one of the frontrunners of the social enterprise sector in Thailand. He established the country’s first social enterprise and spun off many others, like the well-known Cabbages & Condoms Restaurants and Resorts. I hope that you and your friends will be able to join us for that discussion.

In closing, I wish you an enjoyable afternoon ahead, and look forward to your partnership with the SIF in our efforts to build a better world. Thank you!