Speech by Law Minister K Shanmugam at Rotary Singapore's World Understanding and Peace Day Lunch
23 Feb 2010 Posted in Speeches
District Governor Datuk Latip,
Ladies and gentlemen,
- A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your 105th anniversary event that is celebrated by Rotarians around the world.
Rotary Club of Singapore
- Rotary Clubs comprise diverse groups of individuals who are leaders within their chosen professions. The 23 Rotary Clubs of Singapore are no different.
- It is heartwarming to know that accomplished and busy individuals like you are willing to commit your time and resources to causes beyond yourself. To answer the calling of “Service Above Self” indeed requires many sacrifices.
Contributions by Local Rotarians
- Rotary International took on the challenge worldwide, over the last two decades, of eradicating Polio, by supporting child immunisation programmes in developing countries. This was its flagship programme and Rotary has committed over US$800 million thus far. It has received much volunteer resources from Rotary clubs all over the world. Working closely with the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and the US Centers for Disease Control, Rotary International is making its impact felt around the world.
- Although Singapore has been polio-free for more than two decades, it is encouraging to hear that local Rotarians are contributing meaningfully to this global issue.
- A distinguishing aspect of Rotary is its decentralised structure. Individual clubs are nimble and flexible, and can easily form groups of like-minded and highly motivated individuals. This enables each club to gather the resources best needed to meet any gaps within the community.
- This aspect has enabled local Rotarians to contribute to society in other meaningful ways. Local Rotarians raised a substantial amount of donations towards relief efforts in Aceh following the tsunami tragedy in 2004. Other examples include RC Pandan Valley that has contributed to Children’s projects in Chiang Rai, Thailand; and RC Sentosa that has embarked on joint literacy projects in Malacca and IT projects in Johor Bahru with their counterparts in Malaysia.
- Closer to home, the Foundation of Rotary Clubs in Singapore has sustained a fruitful relationship with the Government in working with the community. Rotary clubs in Singapore have collectively achieved significant accomplishments over the past 80 years. Rotary Singapore has played a central role in catalysing the formation of various organisations that are now well established within our society. These include the Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association, the Singapore Cancer Society and the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association.
- The Singapore Dyslexia Association was borne from a humble community service project by the Rotary Club of Raffles City about two decades ago. It has since grown from strength to strength and now works with over 1,300 students.
- RC Bugis Junction started “Meals from the Heart” that provides a meal a day at participating hawker centres for the needy, especially senior citizens.
- These are just some of the ways that Rotary has contributed to the broader community and I am sure there are many unsung heroes within the Rotary community who go about quietly making a difference.
- I would like to commend you for your good work both within Singapore and beyond our shores over the last 80 years. Thank you for supporting the Government’s “Many Helping Hands” approach.
- Going forward, how can Rotary continue to play its role of contributing to our community? Several trends and themes have emerged in our social landscape in recent years, which will demand our time and attention. I shall name three areas where I think Rotary can meaningfully play a role.
- First, our population is ageing rapidly. It is inevitable that we will see a greater incidence of chronic, mental and geriatric-related illnesses. More hospitals that can provide the necessary medical treatment will be essential, though insufficient. VWOs and organisations such as Rotary can play a greater role in the step-down care sector as well as capability building for primary caregivers at home.
- Second, even as our society continues to move ahead, there will be some Singaporeans who are less able to take care of themselves, economically. The Government has a wide array of schemes to help them. Under our principle of many helping hands, organisations within our society also do their part. I hope the Rotary Club will also continue to focus on such people who need help and provide them with additional assistance .
- Third, over time, Singapore has become a more cosmopolitan city. Rotary Clubs can help integrate the new citizens and PRs into our society and help them not only to adjust, but also to contribute to our country. Rotary is, by nature, an international organisation. Hence, we could encourage the new citizens and PRs to enrol in local Rotary chapters and get involved in community projects.
- Once again, thank you for inviting me to join you this afternoon and I wish Rotary Singapore all the best in your endeavours this year.
Last updated on 26 Nov 2012