Opening Address By Mr David Gerald, Founder, President & CEO, Securities Investors Association Singapore, At Charity Governance Conference 2020 ON 23 September, 9.45am – 1.00pm, Via Zoom Webinar

Date: September 23, 2020

Minister Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law

Mr Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community & Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development

Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman, Charity Council

Dr Ang Hak Seng, Commissioner of Charities

Distinguished guests, Speakers and Panellists

Ladies and Gentleman

Good morning to all! I trust you are all safe and well. Let me first warmly welcome our newly appointed Minister, Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law. Perhaps it is appropriate for me to congratulate you on behalf of all here on your promotion, Sir.

Welcome to this year’s Charity Governance Conference, conducted via live webinar. We are deeply honoured and humbled to once again organise this event, in collaboration with Charity Council and MCCY.

This is an exceptional year! At my age, I never expected to be picking up new IT skills, making contactless payments and working from home. Zoom has become a daily activity!

Whist this pandemic has changed the way we live, work and play, we must not let it get in the way of our mission. It is, especially, during such times that we must rise up to the challenges to support the citizens, as many lives are affected. We need to be creative to find ways to continue to support Singapore!

We, at SIAS, had to quickly ramp up our capabilities to be able to work remotely. The lessons from SARS have taught us that we needed to ensure that our staff are safe. We commenced preparations in early March to ensure our systems and processes are able to cope with all staff working from home, and I am very glad we did that, otherwise, we would find it a challenge to organise this session with you today.

It is with the backdrop of this pandemic in mind that we found ourselves planning this conference. Our discussions highlighted the important need for boards to assume the leadership role in setting the course for charities to ensure they remain relevant and resilient; ready to serve the public, whatever the health crisis is thrown at us.

This brings me to the theme for today’s Conference “Governance For Leadership – Sustainability For A Resilient Future”.  What do charities need to consider to ensure we remain resilient in the face of this pandemic and the future?

This year we are pleased to be able to present a study by Centre for Non-Profit Leadership’s (CNPL), Board Leadership Survey 2019 conducted by Deloitte. While I will not be giving away the results of the survey, having leaders with the right values and ethics directly impacts the effectiveness of the Organisation. While this may seem obvious, the study goes on to provide a framework to build effective boards. I am looking forward to hearing more from the session later. We will also learn more about the revised Charity Transparency Framework which MCCY will be introducing shortly.

We at SIAS believe that in order for us to do our job well, we need to be accountable to our stakeholders. Ethics and governance is fundamentally at the foundation of this collaboration. I say, collaboration as it takes all stakeholders to ensure that the organisation is in sync with its constituents. In charities, the board is fundamentally responsible for driving this collaboration. At the end of the day, it is a shared journey.

What’s next? While we continue with life in Phase 2, we need to keep a watchful eye on the potential for a 2nd Wave. Are we prepared for it? Correspondingly, the effects of excessive telecommuting and employee morale will have to be managed. On a longer term, organisations will need to rationalise the office space needs. Will they need all the space currently occupied?  I will leave these thoughts with you to contemplate and discuss during the course of this conference.

A big thank you Minister for taking time off your busy schedule to grace today’s Conference. A special appreciation to the speakers and panellists who have devoted much time in preparing today’s presentations and discussion. To you the delegates and fellow charity members, thank you for taking time to be with us. Last but not least, I thank the MCCY and SIAS teams for their hard work to make this Conference possible.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Enjoy the Conference. I am sure you will have meaningful takeaways.