Annual Corporate and Award Dinner of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) – Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 09 November 2023

Mr Mark Rhys, 
President, Institute of Chartered Accountants 
in England and Wales,

Mr Sam Myers, 
His Majesty’s Deputy Trade Commissioner, 
United Kingdom

Mr Edmund Cheng, 
Chairman, Yellow Ribbon Fund

Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner, 
Singapore Prison Service

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening. 

1. Thank you for inviting me here to join you and congratulations first of all to the nearly 100 new Chartered Accountants who are being welcomed into the institute today. 

2. This institute is more than 140 years old.

3. Over the 140 years, the institute has tried to uphold standards of accounting worldwide, including in this region, and has also tried, certainly in the more recent decades, to create a more sustainable set of economies, and work with governments, social enterprises and charities, to help uplift societies.

4. For example, in Singapore, the institute has partnered with a social enterprise, called the Singapore Fashion Runway, which supports young people with special needs or who may be otherwise disadvantaged. I understand that youths from the Singapore Fashion Runway will be giving a special performance later.

5. This evening, we will witness the signing of an MOU between the institute and the Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF) which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

6. The Fund was launched in 2004, 19 years ago. It was the first national charity fund dedicated to the rehabilitation and reintegration of prison inmates, ex-offenders, and to supporting their families. 

7. Under this partnership with the institute, family members of inmates and ex-offenders will be given sponsorships to obtain professional certifications in accountancy. 

8. In the next phase, the institute and YRF also plan to sponsor the course fees for desistors who performed well, and ex-offenders, who are turning their lives around to bring them one step closer to being fully-fledged Chartered Accountants. I understand that two such applications have already been submitted. 

9. Singapore has a reputation for being very tough on crime, and having tough laws, which is not untrue. But then there is a second part to it. We put in a lot of effort into rehabilitation. In fact, we look at it as – What can we do to prevent kids from getting into trouble? When they do get into trouble, how can we focus on each individual while they are in prison to turn their lives around? When they leave prison, how can we continue to support them so that they can rehabilitate and move on to a better life? 

10. In most cities which are comparable, the rate of recidivism is anywhere between 40 to 60%. In Singapore, it's around 20 – 21%. Those are lives saved, not only 20 to 21%, but also, we give them hope. While they are in prison, we work with each one of them to give them a chance at education, and work with the industries to give them skill sets. What the institute is doing here is very welcomed as it gives an additional pathway for these ex-offenders. It is a tremendous amount of hope that is given to them.  

11. These initiatives will also try and break the inter-generational cycle of reoffending that we see all too often, because we try and give concrete assistance in education, skills training, and employment opportunities. 

12. So big thank you to the institute, and of course YRF, for the effort that has been put in to make this happen. And congratulations once again, to all of those being recognised today as new members, and corporate partners, for your achievements. 

13. Thank you.