Fostering Singapore-China Ties

SIF Governor and stalwart Professor Cham Tao Soon was awarded the Magnolia Silver Award by the Shanghai Government for his support of SIF’s Young Business Ambassadors Programme.

SIF Governor Professor Cham Tao Soon (left) receiving the Magnolia Award from SPAFFC Executive Vice President Mr Wang Xiaoshu for his outstanding contributions to Shanghai’s social and economic development through foreign exchange and cooperation.

“It is my personal belief that collaboration and understanding between two countries must begin from a person-to-person level. Personal experiences and interactions form the basis for closer cooperation and programmes such as the YBA create the springboard for bigger and better things to happen at a country-to-country level.”

So said Professor Cham at his acceptance speech for the Magnolia Silver Award, an annual award given by the Shanghai Municipal Government to foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to Shanghai’s social and economic development through foreign exchange and cooperation.

Named after Shanghai’s city flower, the Magnolia Silver Award was previously awarded to Singapore recipients such as Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, in 2012, and Founder of Hyflux Group, Ms Olivia Lum, in 2009.

Professor Cham was recognised for his tireless efforts at championing the SIF’s Singapore-China Young Business Ambassadors (YBA) Programme, which has nurtured 77 young business professionals from Singapore and Shanghai since its inception in 2004.

The exchange programme provides young Singapore and Shanghai business professionals the opportunity to work and live in each other’s cities for periods of up to 12 weeks. It is organised in partnership with the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC) and Shanghai Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), the former of which was Professor Cham’s nominating party.

YBA participants congratulating Professor Cham for receiving the Magnolia Award.

At the award presentation ceremony, which coincided with the Singapore-China YBA 2013 Closing Ceremony, Ke Fei, Deputy Manager, Shanghai Culture Square, one of the 2013 YBAs who was attached to The Esplanade Co. Ltd said, “The completion of the programme marks a new beginning for all of us –as YBA alumni…We learnt about Singapore, its policies and also the lives of Singaporeans. It is a programme to not only for us to grow professionally but, importantly, to learn the culture of another country. The more we interact and communicate, the more we can understand each other and work together.”

Professor Cham also highlighted how a team of past and present YBA participants volunteered to rebuild homes for families affected by the Sichuan earthquake on an expedition organised by the CapitaLand Hope Foundation and Habitat for Humanity China.

“[This] is a powerful demonstration of how the friendships nurtured through exchange programmes like the YBA programme can make a difference and meaningful contributions to society. The SIF is about bringing world communities together to do good and we look forward to more collaborations among members of the growing YBA network,” he added.

YBA participants posing for a group photograph with SPAFFC representatives Mr Zhou Yajun and Mr Wang Xiaoshu (from left), Professor Cham and Singapore’s Consul-General to Shanghai Mr Ong Siew Gay (ninth from left).

The Singapore-China YBA Programme will celebrate its 10th year anniversary in 2014 with a commemorative book of professional and personal insights gained from the YBA Programme, contributed by YBA participants, partners and alumni.

These impressions of the Young Business Ambassadors 2013 Closing Ceremony were contributed by SIF staffer Charlene Poon.

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