Speech By Mr David Chong, SIF Governor, At Shiok! Nite, At Hotel Fort Canning, In Singapore

Valued Partners and Friends of the SIF,
Distinguished Guests,

Good evening. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to ShiOK! Nite 2019!

This biennial celebration brings together friends, partners and programme alumni of the Singapore International Foundation, or the SIF, from around the world to celebrate international friendships.

I understand over 100 of you have travelled from afar to Singapore to be here tonight – from Cambodia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Thailand, the United States of America, and Vietnam. We are also honoured to have our overseas partners join us – the International Affairs and Investment Board from the Government of Yogyakarta, Indonesia; King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand; and the Vietnam-Singapore Friendship Association. Last but certainly not least, thank you to our Citizen Ambassadors and local partners for joining us on this special occasion!

This year’s ShiOK! Nite and SIF Connects! is particularly meaningful, as it marks Singapore’s Bicentennial year. It is fitting that we are holding tonight’s celebration at the historic Hotel Fort Canning, a heritage landmark in Singapore with a rich, colonial past. You would have heard Mr Clement Chow, our Citizen Ambassador and one of Singapore’s renowned musicians, perform his song “None of This Came Easy”. The ballad perfectly captures Singapore’s Bicentennial and expresses how we have evolved from a turbulent history to what we are today: an open, multicultural, and resilient society. This is in large part a result of the efforts of our forefathers, who hail from many parts of the world represented here tonight. In a sense, the Singapore story is the SIF mission at large: people from different walks of life coming together and working towards a world that is peaceful, inclusive, and offers opportunities for all. It goes without saying that we, both Singapore and the SIF, would not be here today without the contributions of our neighbours and friends.

Thanks to a collaborative approach with our Citizen Ambassadors and overseas counterparts, the SIF has made great strides towards achieving several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with the countries we work in. Over the years, more than 4,000 volunteers from Singapore have travelled overseas to work alongside local communities, creating positive impact in 17 countries. Through our sustainable development projects in the five focus areas of Arts & Culture, Business & Livelihood, Education, Environment and Healthcare, we have managed to uplift over 15 million lives and counting.

ShiOK! Nite also marks International Volunteer Day, or IVD. The theme for IVD 2019, “Volunteer for an Inclusive Future”, highlights how volunteers provide a platform for people – especially those from lesser-seen and understood communities – to be actively involved in society. Through their outreach, volunteers are able to strengthen relationships and solidarity across the world. Their selfless contributions of time and talent towards uplifting lives and making a positive impact is indeed inspiring. Tonight, the SIF celebrates IVD by recognising their efforts. The long-term commitment of several of our friends and partners continues to make our work possible, and we hope you will join us in appreciating their generous spirit.

To conclude, on behalf of my board and colleagues, please accept my deepest appreciation to everyone here. Your steadfast support and belief is what enables the SIF’s work. I hope that you will be inspired by the ideas exchanged tonight and leave with a renewed desire and optimism to make our world a better place.

Thank you and have a ShiOK! time.



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