Eight youth with a passion for doing their bit to improve society for a better tomorrow are in the running for the Singapore Youth Award this year.
First established in 1975, the annual award is given to youth who exemplify the values of resilience, courage, leadership, service and ambition. Past recipients include Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu, Olympic silver medallist Li Jiawei and filmmaker Anthony Chen.
Here are the finalists of the Singapore Youth Award 2017:
"I want to inspire others through the gift of music." — Dr Azariah Tan Peng Chay, 25, pianist. Despite bilateral sensorineural hearing loss having claimed 85 per cent of his hearing, this modern-day Beethoven has nonetheless become one of the world’s foremost pianists. Not only has Mr Tan played at a number of prestigious performing arts venues around the world, he has also topped several international competitions, such as the Trinity College London Music Competition in 2005 and Kevin Kern Piano Prodigy Contest in 2006. This year, he was also awarded the Paul Abisheganaden Grant for his contributions to the performing arts.
"I design walking tours to uncover social issues and connect people to improve communities." — Mr Cai Yinzhou, 26, founder of multiple social enterprises. One of them is Geylang Adventures, which offers educational programmes in Geylang for more than 3,000 people over the last three years. Mr Cai also works with non-government organisations and public institutions to serve Singapore’s underprivileged. In addition, he founded Between Two Homes, a research project that documented the relocation of Dakota Crescent’s elderly residents, with funding from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s Our Singapore Fund.
"It is my dream that one day we’ll be able to prevent kidney failure and reduce suffering in many Singaporeans." — Dr Isaac Liu Desheng, 34, paediatrician. A recipient of the 2016 National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Research Fellowship, he specialises in the treatment of kidney disease at the National University Hospital (NUH). Dr Liu recently received grants of $45 million from the NUH Summit Research Program and the NMRC Large Collaborative Grant for medical research. He is also Chief Doctor of the Shaw-National Kidney Foundation’s Children’s Kidney Centre Annual Camp, which gives young patients a chance to engage in outdoor activities at Outward Bound Singapore.
"Every time you fall, it is important to pick yourself up and try again." — Mr Maximillian Tan, 29, equestrian. Born with cerebral palsy, Mr Tan has suffered 20 injuries over nine years of competing in equestrian sports. Nonetheless, his efforts paid off when he won the 9th placing at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France; and claimed the 10th spot in individual rankings at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil. A recipient of the Sports Excellence Scholarship from the Singapore Sports Institute, he gives regular motivational speeches on how he lives life to the fullest to encourage others with disabilities to lead active lifestyles.
"I hope to bring traditional arts that’s unique to Singapore to a global audience." — Mr Muhammad Noramin bin Mohamed Farid, 30, co-founder of DIAN Dancers. The non-profit Malay traditional arts group is dedicated to offering young dancers various platforms to create new work. He received the National Arts Council’s Postgraduate scholarship for his PhD studies this year, following a grant by the organisation last year to produce Bhumi, a multidisciplinary and international collaborative theatre performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mr Noramin was also a member of the Malay Activities Executive council from 2012 to 2014.
"Music can change people, so it can change the world." — Mr Mohamed Shabir bin Tabare Alam, 32, founder of Shabir Music Academy. The contemporary music school awards free lessons to children from Jamiyah Children’s Home. He has his roots in song composition — Singai Naadu was composed by him for the National Day Parade in 2012. He recently composed the music for an Indian feature film, Sangu Chakkaram. So far, he is the only Indian artist from Singapore to have received the Merit Award at the Asian Television Awards in 2015, and the Edison Award for Best International Artist in 2013.
"I hope to bring people with disabilities and the able bodied community together through sports." — Ms Shayna Ng, 27, national bowler. She has swept many awards since she first donned Singapore colours in 2010. Some of her noteworthy wins include the 2011 Hong Kong Open, the 2012 QubicaAMF World Cup, and the Women’s Open at the China Open in Shanghai last year. Ms Ng is also the co-founder and head of marketing for online portal SportSanity, which provides sports, fitness and health solutions to corporate clients under its PulseActiv brand.
"I am an international conductor with a local heart." — Mr Wong Kah Chun, 30, co-founder of global music education initiative Project Infinitude. Mr Wong is poised to take up the mantle of the Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, which will make him the youngest Asian chief conductor in the world. Mr Wong also made history by being the first Asian to win the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany, in May last year. He has conducted orchestras in more than 20 cities such as Berlin, Dresden, Shanghai, and Tokyo.
Watch this space for profiles on each of the eight finalists every Monday and Friday, starting September 25. This will lead up to the announcement of the winner on October 21 by the National Youth Council.
This article is sponsored by the National Youth Council.
Correction note: an earlier version of this article stated that Ms Li Jiawei is an Olympic gold medallist. She is, in fact, an Olympic silver medallist. We are sorry for the error.