Making a Difference - SAFRA Awards 2017
By Revathie Dhanabalan
November 6, 2017
Big congratulations to all 146 SAFRA volunteers and 10 corporate partners that were honoured at the biennial SAFRA Awards held on 12 October 2017 at SAFRA Mount Faber. These award winners have contributed significantly to SAFRA's growth and made a difference to the lives of NSmen and their families. Defence Minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, who is also the Chairman of SAFRA's Board of Governors and Senior Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President of SAFRA, Dr Maliki Bin Osman graced the event and presented awards to our volunteers and partners.
Dr Ng Eng Hen, Defence Minister and Chairman of SAFRA Board of Governors entering as the 45th Anniversary Celebration begins to a rising welcome
Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President of SAFRA, giving a speech
Before presenting some of the awards, Dr Maliki emphasized the importance of SAFRA's role and the importance of NSmen's service to the nation. In his speech, Dr Maliki explained that NSmen are able to share their National Service (NS) experiences with their families through SAFRA, allowing Singaporeans to share a deeper sense of conviction on the importance of NSmen's service to the nation.
In part of SAFRA keeping to its mission, SAFRA volunteers have contributed significantly over the past 45 years to meet the needs of NSmen and their families - "each year, our [SAFRA] volunteers put in a total of over 36,000 hours of their time in service of NSmen and their families ... serving over 600,000 members today".
Mr Yip Hoi Kee receiving the Long Service Award (45 years)
Among the recipients at the ceremony, was Mr Yip Hoi Kee, founding member of SAFRA Photographic Club. He has volunteered with SAFRA for 45 years and was presented the Long Service Award. He helped to lay the foundations of the club by initiating many of its activities such as workshops, exhibitions, courses as well as contests. He contributed to the growth and rising standards of the SAFRA Photographic Club, often stepping forward to be on judging panels for competitions organised by the club such as the SAFRA Photographer of the Year contest.
Mr Yip Hoi Kee [third from the right in the front row] with the SAFRA Photographic Club friends
When asked about how he hopes to nurture the generations to come, Mr Yip expressed that he always tells his members that when "you teach, teach whatever you can, make them learn and get into the hobby fast. And of course, you must have passion. Without passion, nothing works!"
Other winners of the night included BG (NS) Tung Yai Fai, who won the Meritorious Service Award [pictured below].
BG (NS) Tung Yui Fai receiving Meritorious Service Award from Dr Ng Eng Hen
BG (NS) Tung Yai Fai has played many key roles and contributed significantly to SAFRA over the years. From 2013 to 2016, BG (NS) Tung has played major roles, such as Chairman of the SAFRA-SAF Partnership Committee, Member of the National Service Resort & Country Club (NSRCC) General Committee, Chairman of the 13th SAFRA Awards Selection Panel, and Chairman of the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon (SSBR & AHM) Organising Committee.
Upon winning the Meritorious Service Award (Gold) - the highest accolade among SAFRA Awards, BG (NS) Tung said that he was very honoured to have received the award. He further emphasised that it is important to recognise the contributions of NSmen and their families - "we must make sure that our events continue to engage people ... to continue the good work that SAFRA has done for the last 45 years".
MAJ (NS) Chow Cheok Kai (on the right) before heading in for the Awards ceremony
Among the other Meritorious Service Award winners was MAJ (NS) Chow Cheok Kai [pictured above]. As a Chairman of SAFRA Yishun, MAJ (NS) Kai was instrumental in leading the Executive Committee and club management team as SAFRA Yishun continues to attract one of the highest patronage among SAFRA clubs.
Having volunteered with SAFRA since 2013, MAJ (NS) Kai believes that the "whole purpose of volunteering is to try and give back to the community of NSmen .... we have to work towards a future that better engages the whole range of NSmen out there".
SLTC (NS) Ridzuan Bin Ismail (second from the left) at the SAFRA Awards
Another Meritorious Service Award winners was SLTC (NS) Ridzuan Bin Ismail [pictured above], who has served in various SAFRA committees since 2010. He was the Secretary of the SAFRA Toa Payoh Executive Committee from 2012 to 2013, before assuming the appointment of Chairman in 2014.
During his tenure, he actively supports and participates in club and SAFRA events by always aiming to better engage and understand members' needs. SLTC (NS) Ridzuan hopes to see the younger batches of NSmen coming out to be actively involved with SAFRA since "it is really about continuing to make ourselves relevant to the current needs and expectations because we are also serving a different generation".
From left: Colonel (NS) Peter Lam - Chairman of the SAFRA Volunteer Management Committee, Colonel (NS) Simon Lim - Vice-President of SAFRA, Mr Chan Yeng Kit - Permanent Secretary (Defence), Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman - Senior Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President, SAFRA, Dr Ng Eng Hen - Minister for Defence and Chairman, SAFRA Board of Governors, Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee - former President of SAFRA, Bill Chua - SAFRA Member, Mr Lee Chung Wei - General Secretary of SAFRA and Mr Edward Leong - CEO of SAFRA on stage for toast
A SAFRA45 ice sculpture that captivated the guests in the banquet room
After the awards ceremony, guests were ushered into the Summer Garden Restaurant for the special anniversary cake-cutting ceremony and a toast to SAFRA. Guests were also given a unique mocktail, SAPPHIRE 45 that was created to commemorate SAFRA's 45th Anniversary. The special blue mocktail that consisted of yuzu juice, blue lagoon (cane syrup) and a splash of soda. As the night progressed, guests were entertained by the Urban Drum Crew as well as a buffet of local cuisine.
A salute moment with Dr Ng Eng Hen and Dr Maliki Osman along with SAFRA staff and guests
Since the opening of the first SAFRA clubhouse in Toa Payoh in 1975, SAFRA had its humble beginnings as a recreational place for NSmen and started with 1,904 members and 37 staff members. Fast forward to 2017, SAFRA has come a long way, with a total of six clubs serving over 600,000 members as we commemorate NS50 and our 45th Anniversary this year.
The "We Salute Our NSmen" campaign, which began in June this year to commemorate NS50 with 50,000 salutes, has surpassed the goal with over 250,000 salutes. The campaign attracted people from all walks of life to honour and appreciate our NSmen.
Check out this short clip put together to share the various efforts and contributions made by many in the community comprising of individuals, families and organisations:
Once again, SAFRA would like to congratulate all the award recipients and all the selfless volunteers and corporate supporters that have given their time and invaluable contributions with SAFRA in our mission to recognise our NSmen. Here's to more great years ahead!