19 August 2013 marks the 5th World Humanitarian Day, a day designated by UN General Assembly Resolution A/63/L.49 to recognise all aid workers who have sacrificed or lost their lives in the line of duty and pay tribute to them by raising awareness on humanitarian issues and efforts to continuously help the lesser privileged.  Singaporean aid organisation Mercy Relief (MR) held its annual Observance with the theme –Corporate Humanitarian Responsibility – at the Joyden Hall, at Bugis+ today.

A panel of speakers from several active and consistent corporate donors – the Hong Leong Group, Singhealth Group and the HSL, shared on their varying past experiences and continuing roles in the areas of disaster relief, poverty reduction and risk mitigation.  The three active CHR  contributors have supported MR particularly through funding for post-disaster aid, medical relief missions, organising fundraising initiatives, providing comfort and complimentary accommodation for aid workers during relief missions and reconstruction efforts since 2005.

 

(left) Guest-of-Honour Mr Kwek Leng Joo (2nd from right) reflecting on Hong Leong Group’s participation in the post Wenchuan earthquake 2008 in front of  the architectural model of MR’s reconstructed Wolong-Hong Leong Primary School.

(right) Mr Kwek Leng Joo was introduced to the objectives and mechanics of the PurHeart Bottle, a joint innovation from AGplus, MR and Singapore Polytechnic, which uses nanosilver technology.

 

Inter-faith leaders led the guests through the customary and significant prayer for the safety of serving humanitarians around world.

Panelists of compassion with passion (from left) Dr Mark Leong, Chairman of Singhealth Humanitarian Relief Programmes (SHRP); Mr Gerry De Silva, Head of Group Corporate Affairs from Hong Leong Group, Mrs Grace Lim-Quek, Head of Human Resource & Administration from HSL, and the moderator Mr Ng Tze Yong, Head of Corporate-Social Innovation, WATATAWA Consulting.

Guest-of-Honour Mr Kwek Leng Joo, President of Singapore Compact, Managing Director of City Developments Limited and Governor of Hong Leong Group, highlighted in his speech, “It is essential for both public and private organisations to engage in disaster risk management, not only to minimise risks for their businesses and operations, but also help to mitigate the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities.  The expertise of organisations combined with their extensive range of resources including capital and networks, can play an important role for collaborative efforts in disaster risk reduction activities.”

The Observance was also held in significance to MR’s 10th year in service to humanity in the Asian region. The NGO would be relocating to its new 14,000 sq-ft premises – the Mercy Humanitarian Centre (MHC) –located at Jalan Ubi in November, where it would be an under-one-roof and one-stop humanitarian centre which would house the ops centre, stockpile warehouse, innovation studio, volunteer training facilities and exhibition gallery.

Chairman of the Chen Su Lan Trust, Reverend Dr Yap Kim Hao  was given a virtual tour of MR’s new 14,000 sq-ft premises –the Mercy Humanitarian Centre (MHC).

Sharing on the organisation’s expanding role within the Asian region, MR Chairman Michael Tay said, “Mercy Relief has been appointed by the government of Brunei Darussalam, the current Chair of ASEAN, as the implementing partner to the inaugural ASEAN Young Professionals Volunteer Corps (AYPVC).  The AYPVC seeks to provide an active, interactive and cooperative network for action for young working adults from the 10 ASEAN Member States to collectively serve the lesser advantaged in the region.”

60 ASEAN volunteers would embark on the 16-day expeditions in Indonesia and Cambodia next week.  Singaporean participants from AYPVC are supported by the Singapore’s National Youth Council.

Mr Tay added, “MR was recently chosen to be part of the ASEAN Committee for Disaster Management (ACDM) and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Partnership Framework, where the 10 ASEAN Member States would each have a representative body from both the government and NGO sectors.  The Partnership Framework aims to support the implementation of the codified ASEAN Agreement for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) such that disaster losses in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of the people of ASEAN may be substantially reduced.

 

(left) MR Chairman Michael Tay welcoming the stakeholders at the start of the WHD observance event. 

(right) Mr Kwek Leng Joo delivering the keynote address emphasising on the need for corporate entities to combine their resources for collaborative efforts towards regional humanitarian activities.

Following the footsteps of their pioneer batch who received their scrolls from DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam last year, the second batch of 30 Singapore Polytechnic students from the Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme in Humanitarian Affairs received their certificates, with the top 3 graduands awarded with the Abdullah Tarmugi Book Prize and the Mercy Relief Book Prizes.  This is a continuous effort to mould the next generation of humanitarians in Singapore so as to be able to play a proactive and effective part in serving the regional needs and in tandem project the Singaporean hearts.

This event was attended by diplomats from several of the countries which MR operates in, and its corporate donors and partners.  A customary prayer for the safety and security of aid workers in discharging their duties was led by leaders of the main faiths in Singapore.  The event also observed the loss of one of MR’s own Singaporean humanitarian tribesmen who perished whilst on deployment to Zambales, Philippines on 31 August 2009, in response to Typhoon Morakot.

 

(left) The 2nd batch of 30 Singapore Polytechnic students from the Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme in Humanitarian Affairs received their notes of completion from Mr Kwek Leng Joo and MR Chairman Mr Michael Tay. 

(right) Top student, Miss Kristalynn Yue Suet Yan, who delivered the Valedictorian speech at the observance, was presented with the Abdullah Tarmugi Book Prize.

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance. 

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen. 

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email corporateaffairs@mercyrelief.org