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Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Finance, at Hindu Endowments Board Volunteer Awards Ceremony 2008, 10 May 2008, 8.00 pm at Safra Club (Mount Faber)

12 May 2008

Mr S Rajendran,
Chairman Hindu Endowments Board,

Mr R Bawajee,
Chairman Hindu Advisory Board,

Chairpersons of Sri Mariamman, Sri Srinivasa Perumal, Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman and Sri Sivan Temples,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

2. It gives me great pleasure to attend the Hindu Endowments Board's Annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony.

3. The Hindu Endowments Board, or HEB for short, has played a leading role in serving the needs of the Hindu community in Singapore since its founding in 1968. Over the past decades, HEB has worked tirelessly to strengthen Hindu community development, help the vulnerable, and reach out to other religions in the spirit of inter-faith understanding and harmony.

4. HEB's successes and impact on the community would not be possible without the contribution of its volunteers. Indeed, there is nothing quite like the heart of a volunteer to humble and inspire others, to want to serve causes greater than themselves.

5. Today, HEB has over a thousand passionate volunteers, a good number of whom come from other religious affiliations. Volunteers are a major driving force behind HEB's key cultural activities, such as the Deepavali celebrations, Fire Walking, and Thaipusam. HEB tells me that no less than 800 volunteers are required to manage each of these festivals. Certainly no individual's contribution is too small in making the festivals a success over the past many years.

6. HEB's volunteers do not just serve the Hindu temples and run Hindu community activities; we can find them at HEB's kindergartens and its outreach to fellow community organizations. For example, HEB's volunteers helped out at the Vesak Celebrations in Little India and the Health Fairs organized by the Health Promotion Board. They also had a hand to move the Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple to its present premises, and showcased Indian art and culture at the recent 2008 Chingay festival. Every volunteer is an ambassador of goodwill for HEB and the Hindu community.

7. This evening's Awards Ceremony pays tribute to the special individuals who have dedicated their time and skills to HEB. While volunteers do not serve for reward, it is fitting that we give them due recognition and appreciation! I would like to give special mention to this year's Excellence Award recipients who are role models for other volunteers to aspire to.

a. Mr. P Raja Perian;
b. Mr. P P Raj;
c. Mr. Suppiah S/o Pooniah;
d. Mr. Pathmanathan S/o Velayutham;
e. Mr. Tamil Selvam Ponnusamy; and
f. the late Ms. Kasturai Bai.

8. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: "The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others." I hope that every volunteer at HEB is able to find joy, value, and meaning in serving his wider community, and that he will continue to do so for years to come.

9. Thank you for having me here this evening, and once again, congratulations to the recipients of today's awards.