SINGAPORE - The search is on for this year's Singaporean of the Year, as the first nominees - two volunteers helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland - were announced at a launch event on Wednesday (July 27).
In its eighth edition now, The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award, presented by UBS, aims to celebrate the extraordinary impact of ordinary Singaporeans on society.
The nominations of Mr Priveen Suraj Santakumar, 34, and Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, 64, for the award - for their selfless acts of cooking and distributing meals in Poland to Ukrainian refugees escaping the Russia-Ukraine war - were announced at the event held at the UBS auditorium in Penang Road.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH Media Trust's English, Malay and Tamil Media Group and editor of ST, said of the award: "These are very troubled times, with so much doom and gloom in the world. So there is a desire among audiences for inspiring stories that lift people's spirits.
"The nominees for this award are courageous, selfless people who are doing extraordinary things that you and I might think about, but might not actually do. So they inspire us."
The event also marked the inauguration of the Singaporean of the Year alumni network, which aims to bring together past and present-day nominees and recipients, to interact and foster possible collaborations among them.
Mr Colm Kelleher, chairman of the board of directors at UBS, said: "The nominees' stories are motivating, bright spots in a difficult world and amidst what has happened in the last couple of years. The world needs commitment to courage more than ever, and the nominees showcase the best of humanity."
This is Mr Kelleher's first visit to a UBS office in Asia, in his new role as chairman. He attended the event alongside UBS Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh who said: "We wish to pay tribute to all the extraordinary Singaporeans who champion their values and set a high bar of kindness and care in our society for others to emulate."
Also at the event were past nominees and recipients, such as 2021 award recipient Sakthibalan Balathandautham, who donated part of his liver to a one-year-old diagnosed with liver failure.
Mr Kwek Eik Sheng, executive director of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, a prize sponsor, said: "As a home-grown brand, Millennium Hotels and Resorts applauds Singaporeans who rise above adversity, putting others before themselves, and fostering a stronger community."
Mr Christian Westbeld, managing director of Raffles Hotel, another prize sponsor, said: (We are) delighted to be associated with the Singaporean of the Year 2022, which exemplifies the spirit and strength of character, often exceeding expectations to make an impact in society."
Ms Lee Wen Fen, senior vice-president of corporate planning at Singapore Airlines, also a prize sponsor, said: "The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of fostering a caring community, and we hope that this year's nominees will go on to inspire others to do their part as well."
Nominations for the award will be open until Dec 15 at this website. Nominees must be Singapore citizens, and recognised for performing their act of service in 2022.
The recipient will be decided by a panel of judges, with contribution from online voting by members of the public.
The award recipient will get:
- $20,000 in cash for each person or group
- A five-night stay at any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts' properties globally, up to a maximum of three sets of accommodation for the group
- One pair of Singapore Airlines business class tickets for each individual, up to a maximum of three pairs for the group
- A three-night stay at a Raffles Hotel Singapore
Finalists will receive:
- $5,000 cash for each person or group
- A three-night stay at one of Millennium Hotels and Resorts' global properties, up to a maximum of three sets for each group
- One pair of Singapore Airlines economy class tickets for each individual, up to a maximum of three pairs for each group of finalists