Singapore, 25 February 2022 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF)’s Chairman Ambassador Ong Keng Yong and Executive Director Ms Jean Tan were awarded with the Medal for Peace and Friendship among Nations by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) today.
The Medal for Peace and Friendship among Nations represents the highest honour awarded by VUFO for individuals who have made significant contributions in promoting cooperation between Vietnam and their respective countries, including the deepening of ties and friendship at the people-to-people level.
The medals were presented by the President of the Vietnam-Singapore Friendship Association (VSFA) and member of the Presidium of VUFO, Mr Vu Viet Ngoan. At the ceremony held in Singapore, he said: “We are pleased to award the Medal for Peace and Friendship among Nations to Ambassador Ong and Ms Tan. Both individuals have made tireless contributions in bringing together citizens of Vietnam and Singapore to collaborate on meaningful causes, while building mutual understanding and friendships over the years.”
Ambassador Ong said: “The SIF is honoured to receive the Medal for Peace and Friendship among Nations from the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisation. Singapore and Vietnam have enjoyed warm bilateral relations for many years, and I am heartened that the SIF has played its part in this, specifically through its various collaborative projects that build friendships at the people-to-people level. Together, we have made tremendous progress in building a better world.”
Ms Tan said: “We are grateful for this honour and accept it on behalf of the many Singaporean volunteers and partners who give freely of their time, talent, and treasure to enable our work in international development and peace building. We are thankful too to our Vietnamese partners including the VSFA, for their warm friendship in working with us to create positive change. This medal is a great encouragement to all at the SIF who work tirelessly to shape new realities for a better world.”
At the ceremony, the SIF and the VSFA also signed a Letter of Intent (LOI), re-affirming their commitment to deepen cross-cultural understanding and people-to-people ties between Singapore and Vietnam. This will be achieved through cross-border collaborations to create positive change in areas such as healthcare, education, social entrepreneurship, and the arts. The LOI is one of several bilateral agreements signed to strengthen the multifaceted cooperation between Singapore and Vietnam, in conjunction with the state visit of Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Singapore from 24 to 26 February 2022. It also builds on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SIF and VSFA first signed in 2017 and renewed in 2019 affirming another five years of cooperation till 2024.
Today’s LOI was co-signed by Ms Tan and Mr Vu. The ceremony was witnessed by Ambassador Ong and Director of Asia-Africa Department, VUFO Mrs Tran Thi Xuan Oanh.
28 Years of Collaboration between the SIF and Vietnam
Since 1994, the SIF has partnered various institutions and individuals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to make a difference in the fields of healthcare, education, social entrepreneurship, and arts and culture. Please refer to Annex for pictures of select projects over the years.
Recently, the SIF launched its signature Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Regional programme in Hanoi, in partnership with the Vietnam National University - International School (VNU-IS). Twenty-two youths, representing 10 social enterprises from six Vietnamese cities participated in a three-day workshop, designed to empower youths in Vietnam to start or scale up their social enterprise.
In healthcare, the SIF’s specialist Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) have helped raise the capacity of Vietnamese healthcare professionals in areas such as Paediatric Cardiac Care (2011-2014), Cardiac ICU Nursing (2009-2011) and Psychosocial Skills in Palliative Care (2008-2010). For example, in Paediatric Cardiac Care, this has resulted in the development of more than 110 Vietnamese healthcare professionals to benefit paediatric heart patients in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern province, accounting for about 400 cases of surgery and 1,000 cases of catherisation performed annually. In 2018, the SIF launched a three-year Haemodialysis Care Project in Hanoi in partnership with the Hanoi Medical University to improve the overall quality of haemodialysis care in North Vietnam. As of today, this project has trained more than 130 healthcare professionals and is expected to benefit over 5,000 kidney patients in the region.
In education, to enhance the quality of education for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Ho Chi Minh City, the SIF launched the Teaching and Learning for Children with ASD Project in 2019, in collaboration with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education and Rainbow Centre Singapore. To date, the project has trained 42 special education practitioners and is expected to benefit children with ASD, and their parents and caregivers, from some 16 schools and three hospitals in the city. The SIF also embarked on a second run of its signature Words on Wheels (WoW) programme in HCMC, to inculcate the joy of reading and lifelong learning. Expected to benefit over 7,000 Vietnamese school children, it builds on the success of the first edition which empowered over 11,000 school children between 2014 to 2017. WoW HCMC is conducted in partnership with the General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City, sponsored by Keppel Land Limited, and powered by more than 320 volunteers from Singapore and Vietnam to date.