Experiencing Singapore’s Heart and Soul through its social innovations

Eight journalists, five countries, one cross-cultural experience of a lifetime.

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) welcomed eight editors and journalists from across Asean—Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam—on its recent Multilateral Journalist Visit Programme (JVP). The journalists represented both print and online news outlets.

From exploring urban farming on our island city and community spaces for people with disabilities, to learning about the region’s interconnected and rich cultural history, the journalists took a deep dive into the heart and soul of Singapore. It was also the first JVP to welcome media representing five nationalities, and the diversity of journalists deepened the insights shared among each other.

The unique Peranakan culture embodies aspects of multicultural Singapore, and our media friends sampled Peranakan food over conversation with the SIF’s Citizen Ambassadors (CAs). The journalists also learnt more about the volunteer work our CAs do in the Asean region, where our visiting journalists hail from.

Zon Pann Pwint, The Myanmar Times, Myanmar, shared her reflections on the week-long programme, and said, “Through this visit, I got to meet many experts across various fields, made many new friends, and developed a great understanding of Singapore that I would not have been able to gain online.”

Okke Nuraini Oscar, kumparan.com, Indonesia, added that the programme showed her a side of Singapore she had not known before. “Singapore cares greatly for people with disabilities and even works hard to empower them. They are very conscious about constantly improving what they have, not taking things for granted, and this makes them good learners. Singapore, I salute you!”

Southeast Asia faces many challenges, and social entrepreneurship can provide solutions to these problems. Singaporean social entrepreneurs—including SIF’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Alumni—share their innovative solutions and experiences working in Asean with the journalists and AYF Fellows.

The JVP coincided with the inaugural Asean Youth Fellowship (AYF), an exclusive week-long leadership development programme for emerging young Asean leaders, jointly organised by the National Youth Council and the SIF. Participants from the JVP and AYF had the opportunity to engage with one another throughout the week, sharing their views on social trends facing Asean’s future and discussing ways to better influence positive change in the region.


Southeast Asia is a highly connected region. Docent Bhajan Singh (second from left) explains how the diversities within our countries come together at the Asian Civilisation Museum, such as through its maritime history.
From right: Audrey Tan, Co-Founder, Angels of Impact; Vincent Loka, Chief Technology Officer, WateRoam; Rebecca Paranjothy, Co-Founder, Freedom Cups; Jamon Mok, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Backstreet Academy; and moderator Debrah Jiang, Assistant Manager, Singapore International Foundation.
In land-scarce Singapore, Mei Chang (centre of photo, in blue) of Ground-Up Initiative explains how the non-profit community fosters urban sustainability in Singapore through its education and outreach efforts.
How can public spaces be more inclusive for people with disabilities? At the Enabling Village, our media friends learn how technology can be used to make shared facilities accessible for everyone in the community, such as through automated grocery baskets.
Bayu Wicaksono, Creative Editor at IDNTimes.com, Indonesia, shares his reflections on Instagram in Bahasa Indonesia during the JVP. In particular, a visit to *SCAPE led him to consider how the retail sector can support the work of the youth and marginalised people. He writes, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was something like this in Indonesia?”


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