Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF Chairman, at the Launch of the Third Volume of Singapore Insights from the Inside, at the National Gallery Singapore

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellencies,
Members of the Singapore International Foundation Board of Governors,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening and thank you for joining us at the launch of the third volume of Singapore Insights from the Inside or SIFTI for short. 

It is a pleasure to be among friends, some of whom have generously shared their personal insights and anecdotes of Singapore and the ASEAN Community.

ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world - with a combined population of more than 630 million people and on its way to becoming one of the world’s top five economies.  There is much potential in being a collective as member states can leverage on the strengths of each of the ten member nations of ASEAN.

With Singapore as Chairman of ASEAN this year, and the vision for a “Resilient and Innovative ASEAN”, the focus is on innovation and technology to improve the lives of the people of ASEAN.

Discussions about ASEAN tend to focus on political, security and economic issues. In comparison, the socio-cultural aspect of ASEAN - which is equally important - has been less explored.  Here is where the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) can and has contributed to the lifting of “the quality of life of the ASEAN people through cooperative activities that are people-oriented, people-centred, environmentally friendly, and geared towards the promotion of sustainable development, to face new and emerging challenges in ASEAN”.

Over the past 27 years, the SIF’s work has created an impact in ASEAN - in areas such as healthcare, education, environment, arts and culture, and business and livelihood. SIF's programmes bring people together to make a difference, while fostering greater inter-cultural understanding.  For example, our Good Business programmes connect Singaporeans and world communities through social entrepreneurship while our Volunteer Cooperation initiatives contribute to positive and sustainable development in Asia when Singaporean volunteers work alongside their counterparts to share expertise and effect change.

This year, to support Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship, the SIF will work with our National Youth Council to implement a new programme aimed at fostering a regional network of young leaders known as the ASEAN Youth Fellowship.

This launch of the SIFTI book is yet another demonstration of the SIF’s commitment to the development of the ASEAN Community.  While the earlier two volumes of SIFTI saw the international community share their personal accounts of Singapore, this third volume draws on SIF’s network of friends to reflect on how we can all work together to build a stronger ASEAN for a better world.  Mirroring the diversity of the region, the 50 essays in this publication offer multifaceted and interesting perspectives on the initiatives and collaborations that the region can pursue to help build a vibrant community.

I wish to express SIF’s appreciation to all our friends for sharing their insights and well-meaning advice.  I believe the essays will contribute to building a better understanding of the regional challenges that we face, and the ways to address them together. 

In closing, let me on behalf of all in SIF thank Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan  for gracing this occasion and speaking to us.  SIF also like to thank  the National Gallery for sponsoring today’s launch venue.  A special thank you to the team which organise this event. BRAVO!



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