Keynote Speech by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong SC at Singapore Pawnbrokers’ Association 103rd Anniversary & CNY Gala Dinner
12 February 2023 Posted in [Speeches]
Mr Ivan Ho, President of the Singapore Pawnbrokers’ Association (SPA)
Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Honorary Advisory MP
SPA committee members
Ladies and gentlemen
- Good evening, everyone. It is very nice to see that we are still celebrating Chinese New Year, even after the 15 days. I think we deserve it because the last couple of years, we have not been able to celebrate in this way. So we should celebrate well beyond the 15 days! Let me start by wishing everyone a happy Chinese New Year.
- I am very honoured to be here tonight, for the 103rd anniversary celebrated by SPA, with you in person. This is especially since SPA’s last Chinese New Year gathering like this was in 2018. Very glad that we can now celebrate in person, re-acclaim ourselves, and meet our old friends.
- Ever since SPA was established in 1920, it has remained dedicated to the service of the pawnbroking industry.
- SPA has been a key partner in helping the sector develop over the past 103 years.
- It has also played a key role in the industry given that it has registered 222 pawnbrokers, which is about 94% of the industry in Singapore.
- Most importantly, it has also served as an important link between the Government and the industry, with all of you. It helps us to convey the industry’s concerns to the Government, especially during COVID-19. Mr Ivan Ho and his team played a key part in understanding broad concerns, dealing with ministry officials, giving feedback to us, helping to convey also the Government position and policies to the industry.
- SPA’s importance as a partner was reaffirmed in the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
- Due to the measures in place to tackle COVID-19, pawnbrokers had to operate under constraints, whilst also ensuring that the needs of pawners continued to be met.
- For example, pawnbrokers had to operate with significantly less manpower and outlets.
- Pawnbrokers also had to digitalise renewal processes within a very short period of time. I am very glad that the Registry of Pawnbrokers quickly reviewed and approved the proposals.
- SPA might be 103 years old, but they do not behave like an old person. In fact, they behave like a young millennial, very much adapting to technology, embracing technology, and also welcoming changes to the industry, for the better of the industry and the pawnbrokers. So in this aspect, the online renewal platform was of great help, especially for foreign pawners who could not return to Singapore in that period.
- These actions reflect the industry’s agility and adaptability in overcoming challenges, which we believe we will continue to witness in future, under Mr Ho and SPA’s leadership.
- On my part, my ministry, MinLaw, remains committed to the strong partnership we have with SPA. We will continue to work closely with SPA and all pawnbrokers to support future developments in the pawnbroking industry. Indeed, some of these close relationships with SPA have helped us to develop the appropriate rules and legislation for pawnbrokers. Let me give you some examples.
- In May 2022, just last year, SPA approached MinLaw to facilitate the digitalisation of the industry, especially for the smaller pawnbrokers. We understand the needs SPA got them to us, explained, and told us what was needed for the industry.
- We have since taken on board the feedback from SPA and worked with the industry to take small but progressive steps forward.
(a) For example, to encourage pawnbrokers to offer cashless payment modes, we amended the Pawnbrokers Act to defray the costs incurred by pawnbrokers who offer digital payment methods.
(b) We also allowed for a notice of forfeiture to be communicated to pawners through text messages, or through the pawnbroker’s own individual website portal or also by WhatsApp.
- On top of that, the Registry of Pawnbrokers is also working closely with EnterpriseSG to continue to help traditional pawnbrokers give that stab at technology to help them digitalise, and also improve their services to their own pawners.
- With these combined efforts, working with SPA, understanding the industry’s needs, we believe the road to digitalisation and the road to modernising the whole industry will be a better one.
- Before we continue with our celebrations this evening, I want to once again thank Mr Ho and his team from SPA for working closely with MinLaw on the different initiatives, and also the initiatives that SPA has taken on its own to improve the business of pawnbrokers.
- We look forward to working closely with SPA, and we look forward to SPA’s continued active and strong leadership in driving industry enhancements and efforts through digitalisation and transformation.
- Once again, I am happy to be here this evening to celebrate SPA’s 103rd anniversary and lunar new year. I wish everyone a happy, healthy Lunar New Year.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 12 February 2023