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Speech By Ms Indranee Rajah, 2M For Finance, At The Rotary Club Installation Gala Dinner, At Pan-Pacific Hotel On 1 July 2018, Sunday

02 Jul 2018

Mr Keith Harrison, Outgoing President of the Rotary Club,
Mr Mark Wang, Incoming President,
Board Members, 
Ladies & Gentlemen,

Together, a Caring Society

 1.     Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to be here tonight at the Rotary Club 84th Installation Gala Dinner celebration.

Contribution of Singapore Rotary Club Community

 2.     The Rotary Club and community partners play a vital role in building an inclusive society here in Singapore. This evening, we see fun and fellowship together, but it is also an opportunity to recognise each and every Rotarian as you have helped many in the past year, we have just heard, through your community, vocational, international and youth services.

a. Many of you have taken the initiative to lead, to involve in community service, to do skills-based volunteerism projects not just in Singapore, but as we have heard, in Cambodia, in Nepal, and Indonesia to name just a few countries.

b. I am very encouraged to learn that every year, you are continuously making things better through ground-up initiation of new projects, like the Clean Hands Project that your out-going President talked about, and Football Plus Project.

c. You have collaborated with new partners, like the Singapore Polytechnic and the Association of Persons with Special Needs, and achieved great impact.

d. All this calls for Rotary to persist in your good work in making the incalculable differences to those in need.

Encouraging a Spirit of Giving and Strengthening Partnerships between Government and the Community

 3.     And the work of the Club will only become more vital as the nation seeks to foster a more caring and cohesive society.

a. Over the years, Singapore has expanded in the social space. The Government’s social spending has increased significantly to support our seniors and our vulnerable. Yet, at the end of the day, even as we strengthen financial support, the key driver of a caring and cohesive society is having a united people with common purpose – people with a deep sense of responsibility, people who have the heart to give back, and people who will bring their resources, network, and ability to help one another in the community.

b. Beyond the “hardware”, we must build the “heart ware”. It is not just about donating money or volunteering your time, it is also about helping a stranger.Singaporeans are caring people and I am heartened to see that our volunteerism rate has grown over the years from 1 in 10 individuals (9%) volunteering in 2000 to 1 in 3 (35%) volunteering in 2016. The total volunteered hours have almost doubled from 66 million hours in 2014 to 121 million hours in 2016. And all of you Rotarians have contributed much to this growth, and encourage you to keep up the good work.

c. The social issues have become more complex, it is also increasingly important for a whole-of-society effort, where volunteers, community partners, and the Government come together to solve them. Besides encouraging the spirit of giving, it is with the support of the whole society, with all of us, each and every one, playing our part, that will help us build a caring and resilient society that will continue to thrive in the years ahead.

i. Community partners, like the Rotary Club, are vital. Being on the ground, community partners are attuned to the needs of the community, and can respond more quickly.

ii. To provide more holistic and citizen-centred support to those in need, efforts of both community partners and the Government must be well-coordinated with the needs of the nation. In this year’s Budget, Minister Heng Swee Keat spoke about how the Government is striving to work more closely and strengthen the partnership with community partners in volunteerism and charitable efforts. For example, the Community Networks for Seniors (CNS) programme brings together Government agencies and community partners to do “ABC”.A is for Active Ageing, to encourage seniors to remain active and stay healthy. B is for Befriending, to link up lonely seniors with new friends.And C is for Care, for frail and vulnerable seniors.

iii. The SG Cares movement was also launched in 2017 to bring together public agencies, corporate and community partners to strengthen our caring spirit, share resources and grow opportunities for volunteering. For example, the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and National Council of Social Service (NCSS) are actively identifying and bridging gaps in volunteerism and social services. So I was also interested to hear that you are going into the space of educating social services or NGOs in giving back. NVPC promotes a giving culture in Singapore through initiatives like and Company of Good, while NCSS drives efforts in building an effective social service ecosystem by empowering and building key capabilities among VWOs and spearheading initiatives like the “See the True Me” campaign to promote inclusion in Singapore. In this respect, public agencies noted that volunteerism in certain areas such as providing more support for caregivers, and persons with disabilities, including mental health issues can be further encouraged with stronger efforts from all of us. So with this, I urge everyone to champion the spirit of SG Cares. Although Rotarians, of course, have been long doing that. Through partnership and collaborations, we can dovetail our efforts and achieve more together.

Recognising the Efforts of Outgoing President, and Congratulating Incoming President

4.    Tonight, I also like to acknowledge the contribution made by outgoing President, Mr Keith Harrison. Keith was actively involved in numerous events, as we have heard, including leading a delegation to India for a community visit as well as to Vietnam for the Global Grants Project to provide water and sanitation hygiene training. In the past year, Keith, the Board members and committees have done a great job to help the underprivileged youth, the sick and aged, with caring and medical services; as well as nurturing the youth for community work.

5.     I wish the incoming 84th President of Rotary Club of Singapore, Mr Mark Wang, and his new team every success in leading the Club to continue to make a difference and "Be the Inspiration". I have no doubt that he will lead them with great, bigger ambition.


6.      So once again, I commend all of you at Rotary Club with your good work in building a caring and inclusive society. Also, special thanks to your families and friends for supporting you in your community service journey. Your gifts which are invaluable and priceless - your gifts of time, treasures and resources demonstrate your commitment towards making Singapore a caring society and a better place. And I dare say, all of us, are better people. As we move forward, we count on your continued partnership as we work together to ensure your work continues to be enjoyed and cherished by all, and to benefit all.

7.     Cheers to a great evening and I wish you a wonderful term ahead, filled with dedication, passion and friendship. Thank you all very much.