Professor Leo Tan, Chairman of National Youth Achievement Award Council
Mr Ng Joo Hee, Director of Prisons
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every year, thousands of prison inmates complete their sentences and return to society to start their lives anew. In partnership with community organisations, the Singapore Prison Service has in place various programmes to help inmates impart useful life-skills and help them re-integrate back into society.
2 Young offenders aged between 16 and 21 are exceptionally vulnerable to re-offending. They are impressionable. Without early intervention and guidance, they may go down the slippery slope to a lifetime of crime and recidivism. Rehabilitation resources and efforts should be intensified and programmes need to be tailored to the specific needs of this group.
National Youth Achievement Award
3 The National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Programme is one such programme aimed at helping youth offenders. Now into its eight year, the Programme has been instrumental in helping young inmates at the Changi Prison, Changi Women’s Prison and Kaki Bukit Centre Prison School develop key attributes of self-reliance, perseverance and a sense of responsibility. Through the programme, young offenders are inspired to focus their youthful energies on personal goals and challenge themselves to achieving them. They can gain greater awareness of their roles in society and learn how to positively use their skills, talents and knowledge to contribute back to the community and nation.
4 A total of 845 young offenders have received NYAA awards since its inception in year 2000. This morning, we will see another 115 young men and women, from the three prison institutions - receive the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, as well as Certificates of Achievement.
Achievements of NYAA Recipients
5 The NYAA Programme has given them their first opportunities to be recognised for a positive achievement. Hopefully, this will go some way in helping them to regain their self confidence and encourage them to take the first steps towards fulfilling their potential upon release.
6 I am happy to hear that two of our inmate participants from Prison School have achieved the gold awards this year. The two recipients – Saifuddin Bin Zainuddin and Eng Keng Hiong – have undoubtedly set the benchmark for future NYAA participants. For their residential project this year, which is a requirement for the Gold Awards, Saifuddin and Keng Hiong designed a decorative artwork for Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home. They chose the theme underwater world and they designed an artwork to lift the spirits of the residents and to provide them with an opportunity to exercise their limbs and engage their time meaningfully. They both spent more than a month using recycled materials and paper mache to create the marine life which the nursing home residents can detach and play with.
7 Through the project, the two youths have learnt to be focused on achieving their goal and not to be deterred by setbacks. I am glad that they persevered. Their art piece has certainly brought much delight and excitement to the residents. They are indeed deserving winners of the Gold Award.
8 The NYAA, however, is not just about winning the awards. It is about the process of working towards the award where the participants learn about the importance of setting goals and working towards achieving them. I hope that all the award winners will not see the awards and certificates as the completion of a goal but the beginning of a journey to stay out of prison and lead useful lives as contributing members of society after your release.
9 In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the National Youth Achievement Award Council, the Singapore Adventurers’ Club, the Singapore Scout Association, the Lions Club of Singapore Tanah Merah, Woodgrove Secondary School, Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home, Bedok Salvation Army Elderly Centre, Zion Home for the Elderly and the many individual volunteers for their continuous support of the NYAA Programme in the Singapore Prison Service. Your contributions are indeed greatly appreciated.
10 I also thank the families of our award recipients who are with us today. Your love, encouragement and acceptance will go a long way in helping your loved ones adjust and reintegrate into society. I congratulate all award recipients and wish you every success for the future.