Singapore Children's Society chairman wins top government award for volunteerism

The Ministry of Social and Family Development called Mr Koh Choon Hui "a champion for children's rights and issues locally and regionally".
The Ministry of Social and Family Development called Mr Koh Choon Hui "a champion for children's rights and issues locally and regionally".PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - For his 40-year dedication to helping over 70,000 children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Singapore Children's Society (SCS) chairman Koh Choon Hui has received the Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award.

Mr Koh is the fifth person to receive the award - which is the highest accolade for volunteering from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) - since the awards began in 2009.

In a statement on Friday (Oct 20), the MSF called Mr Koh, who has been SCS chairman since 1978, "a champion for children's rights and issues locally and regionally".

It said Mr Koh, 76, visits each of the society's 12 service centres every month to experience the challenges faced by his frontline workers and see whether programmes remain relevant.

Mr Koh, who was managing director for pharmaceutical giant Roche Singapore until 2012, has also been the Government's representative on children's rights to the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children since 2010.

He was among 197 people who received 164 awards during the ceremony on Friday night, which is held every year to acknowledge those who have made significant contributions towards the MSF's causes.

Among the five Outstanding Volunteer Award recipients this year were three sets of foster parents, all of whom are fostering children with special needs.

They included Madam Jamilah Syed Ahmat and Mr Hashim Abdullah, who have fostered their daughter with special needs for 20 years, including how to help her walk and nurture her into a "confident and articulate person", the statement said.

Two individuals also received the Outstanding Volunteer Award for their contributions to strengthening the social service sector.

One of them is Ms Anita Fam, an active leader and member of various boards and committees in the social service sector, including the Families for Life Council and National Council of Social Service and chairing the Enabling Masterplan 3 Steering Committee.

Another is Ms Monica Seng, who has been a Volunteer Probation Officer (VPO) for 17 years, and the chairman of the VPO Committee since 2015.

In thanking volunteers for their work, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee praised their selflessness.

"The volunteers whom we are recognising tonight serve in various capacities. But what they share in common is an instinctive heart to give themselves in service of others, and an intuitive spirit of giving back to the community," he said.