Joining forces essential in giving back: Panellists

At yesterday's Temasek Trust Conversation panel discussion were (from left) The Majurity Trust executive director Martin Tan, Vintage Radio SG co-founder and Radioactive managing director Aloysius Tan, Ninja Van Singapore co-founder and chief executi
At yesterday's Temasek Trust Conversation panel discussion were (from left) The Majurity Trust executive director Martin Tan, Vintage Radio SG co-founder and Radioactive managing director Aloysius Tan, Ninja Van Singapore co-founder and chief executive Lai Chang Wen and Mediacorp chief executive Tham Loke Kheng.PHOTO: TEMASEK TRUST

The different ways in which Singaporeans came together to pitch in during the pandemic was the subject of a panel discussion at the Temasek Trust Conversation yesterday.

These include distributing thousands of care packs and the setting up of a new radio station tailored to the needs of senior citizens - keeping them engaged and entertained and helping them bridge the digital divide.

The discussion was hosted by philanthropic group The Majurity Trust executive director Martin Tan. The panellists were Asia-Pacific lead of the Internet giant Google's charitable arm Marija Ralic, Mediacorp chief executive Tham Loke Kheng, Ninja Van Singapore co-founder and chief executive Lai Chang Wen and Vintage Radio SG co-founder and Radioactive managing director and co-founder Aloysius Tan.

Temasek Trust is the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek.

Mr Martin Tan noted that one of the trends in philanthropy is the idea of the power of the collective - collaborative philanthropy where different partners come together.

Doing so will not just help to reallocate resources more efficiently, but also help to enlarge the pie for beneficiaries.

The speakers shared about the ways their organisations have played to their strengths in helping the vulnerable and those in need amid the Covid-19 outbreak here.

For example, Mediacorp as a national media organisation put out public education in the various languages, as well as helping to raise funds, said Ms Tham.

Ninja Van, as a logistics company, tapped its nationwide network of doorstep delivery fleets to physically deliver care packs to those in need.

It also collaborated with other partners who were better placed to raise awareness of the initiative, such as by creating social media campaigns - demonstrating the spirit of collaborative philanthropy, said Mr Lai.

The topic of collaborative philanthropy was also discussed in a conversation with Temasek International executive director and chief executive Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, hosted by Mr Warren Fernandez, The Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at Singapore Press Holdings.

Mr Fernandez said collaboration was all about bringing partners together to tackle a complex issue and devise solutions that could be implemented on a larger scale and at greater speed.

Taking up the point, Mr Pillay noted that this was how Temasek tackled the issue of transporting Covid-19 patients during the pandemic.

The team at Temasek, with partners such as SMRT, SBS Transit and other transportation companies and engineering company Hope Technik, managed to retrofit more than 50 vehicles that could safely transport the patients.

Noting that partnerships required trust, shared purpose and empathy if they were to work, Mr Fernandez asked Mr Pillay how this might best be fostered.

Responding, Mr Pillay said that forging strong relationships is a multi-year investment, and also called for a recognition that as an individual organisation, "we don't have all the skills and capabilities required".

"We have to augment what we have with others. But what gets us together has to be reliability and trust," he said. A common sense of purpose is also important, he added.

Mr Pillay also elaborated on Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration Desmond Lee's call for a culture of regular giving to be cultivated, which would be a way of ensuring adequate funding for programmes at social service agencies.

"Generous giving is not about the amount but what you can afford to give... I think for us in Singapore, many of us have been a beneficiary of the system we've had in place. This is a good time for us to give back," he said.

He also noted that technology is also an enabler for regular giving, making it easier to do so. He added that technological changes are also a driver in promoting giving, as it would enable people and corporations to give in new ways. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2020, with the headline 'Joining forces essential in giving back: Panellists'. Print Edition | Subscribe