ST Singaporean of the Year finalists show strength of human spirit, says President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob presenting the Singaporean of the Year award to Mr Anson Ng. With them are UBS Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh (left) and ST Editor Jaime Ho. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Though the finalists for The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award are a varied lot, they are united by the impact they have made on society.

They demonstrate the strength of the human spirit to overcome all odds through faith, courage and conviction, President Halimah Yacob said in a speech at the award ceremony at Raffles Hotel Singapore on Thursday.

Organised by ST and presented by UBS Singapore, the award is given every year to a Singaporean individual or group that has made an impact in society.

This year, the award, in its eighth edition, was presented to Mr Anson Ng, a second-hand car dealer who founded a charity that feeds the needy. He also strives to fulfil the final wishes of the elderly on their deathbeds and helps to pay for the funerals of strangers.

Madam Halimah said some of the finalists, even while battling their own health issues, chose to help and support others afflicted with the same conditions.

Ms Alison Lim and Mr Anjang Rosli looked past their own struggles with early-onset dementia to change perceptions of what people with the disease can do, she noted.

“They personally supported dementia patients and their caregivers while spearheading community initiatives to destigmatise the condition.”

Ms Moonlake Lee started an organisation to reach out to those affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, after both she and her eldest daughter were diagnosed with it, said Madam Halimah, while another finalist, Ms Khairiah Hanim Mazlan, a private-hire car driver, goes beyond the call of duty to spread empathy and compassion in the community.

Ms Khairiah, who habitually engages passengers in conversation, dissuaded one person from committing suicide during a ride.

Madam Halimah also spoke about those who have done good far beyond Singapore’s borders.

Finalists Charanjit Singh Walia and Priveen Suraj Santakumar worked together in Poland and cooked for refugees of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Other nominees have inspired us by attaining excellence in their respective fields to put Singapore on the world stage,” she said.

Associate Professor Too Heng-Phon, a biochemist, worked tirelessly for more than two decades to inspire others to build up Singapore’s capabilities as a scientific powerhouse.

Shuttler couple Terry Hee and Jessica Tan brought glory to Singapore at the 2022 Commonwealth Games by winning gold in the badminton mixed doubles event, and table tennis player Feng Tianwei overcame health issues and an opponent 10 years younger to bring home three Commonwealth gold medals.

President Halimah Yacob (centre) with SPH Media EMTM Editor-in-Chief Wong Wei Kong (far left), Millennium Hotels and Resorts senior VP of global operations and partnership Andy Tan (third from left), UBS Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh (fifth from left), SOTY 2022 winner Anson Ng (seventh from left), ST Editor Jaime Ho (ninth from right), SIA public affairs VP Siva Govindasamy (fourth from right), Raffles Hotel Singapore’s director of rooms Grace Kiong (second from right) and manager Patrick Fisher (far right) and the other SOTY finalists. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Madam Halimah said: “You are all inspirations to the wider community, encouraging us to start our own journey towards doing more to help and motivate those around us.”

While the global fight against the pandemic must continue, and Singapore and the world also grapples with rising tensions and difficult macroeconomic conditions, she said these Singapore stories will serve as inspiration.

“These Singapore stories of grit, goodwill and glory will remind us to stand together, and inspire us to move forward as one united people,” said Madam Halimah.

“Let us lift our heads, let us celebrate the light in each of us; and in turn, let us all be the light in our society.”

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