Published: 08 December 2021
Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner of Prisons,
Mr Phillip Tan, Chairman of Yellow Ribbon Singapore
Mr Matthew Wee, CEO of Yellow Ribbon Singapore
Distinguished guests, especially our friends from the international fraternities,
Ladies and gentlemen
1. A very good afternoon. It’s been an exciting programme. I truly enjoyed it. Well done to the organising team!
2. I would like to congratulate all the 577 award recipients who were conferred the “Beyond Second Chances” and “Advocates of Second Chances” awards. From Overcomers, Individuals, to organisations – you have been very inspiring. Today, while going through the programme, many stories have touched our hearts, including those from Susanty Bte Yaakop, Mohamad Fairizal Bin Jaffar, Jabez Koh, Nutan Shah, Philip Lim, David Siow, as well as companies and organisations like Infinite Transport and many more. You all have been very inspiring. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you. We want to continue this journey with you.
3. The Yellow Ribbon Awards is an inaugural event. As you know, it is a merger of various events such as the SCORE Appreciation Awards, Yellow Ribbon Celebrating Second Chances and Yellow Ribbon Appreciation Dinner. This is reflective of the joint efforts needed to help ex-offenders in their rehabilitation and reintegration journey.
4. We have looked at and seen many success stories, which show us what can be done with support, and the roles played by all of us.
5. An ex-offender’s rehabilitation journey can be a long and difficult one. Ex-offenders must first give themselves a second chance. With the right support, ex-offenders can reintegrate successfully. In turn, they can contribute back to society, as what we have seen with Jabez as an example, and support others who are on a similar path. I think what is key is that we have seen many, many examples, and I want to urge all of you to keep up the spirit of what you have been doing and support one another.
6. Earlier, we watched the music video, “Lessons” performed by the Yellow Ribbon Performing Arts Centre, in short, PAC Alumni. I liked the lyrics very much, and I also saw in the comments that quite a number of you shared that you like the lyrics as well.
7. The original song, “Lessons”, was written and sung by one of the PAC Alumni members, Upu Baharuddin. The song is about the everyday lessons that ex-offenders can learn as they journey through life, and the importance of positive influences to stay on the right path. If you speak to our friends, our Overcomers, they will share with you that they can resonate with this song very deeply, and it really brings out their life experiences.
8. So, beyond furthering his passion in music, Upu has set up a barber shop in Queensway Shopping Centre and hired another ex-offender. Together, they paid it forward by using their barbering skills to serve the community around them. This is exemplary.
9. The Yellow Ribbon PAC Alumni was formed in 2020 by veteran artistes Aaron and Chi Sheng from Intune Music, a “Beyond Second Chances” award recipient.
10. They have been providing music and performance lessons for inmates at the Performing Arts Centre located within the Changi Prison Complex. They have been dedicated to nurturing the musical talents of inmates since 2014.
11. With a firm belief that music can transform lives, Aaron and Chi Sheng continue to mentor and journey with the inmates beyond their release, under the Yellow Ribbon PAC Alumni. They shared the stage at Esplanade’s Red Dot August programme with their mentees in 2020 and 2021.
12. The growing and unconditional support that Intune Music provides to their mentees extends from the prison into the community. This highlights the importance of community support for successful reintegration.
13. Going through the awards and watching the videos, and looking at the list of award recipients, I feel very happy that we have come this far. I feel very inspired whenever I speak to not only our friends who have benefitted from Yellow Ribbon Singapore’s programmes and support, but also those among us who have come forward to play a part in this. Your passion, dedication and commitment really, really inspire all of us. I hope more and more people like yourselves can also come forward to bring goodness to the lives of fellow humankind, and share how we can bring goodness to one another.
14. On a very appreciative note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues, from Yong Lee, Phillip, Matthew and the team, for working very hard. I understand what you are doing is not easy. Sometimes, as a Political Office Holder at the Ministry of Home Affairs, I engage many of my Parliamentary colleagues and the community. When they hear of the work that you do – not only within the agency-level but beyond, and engaging the community – they realise how you not only work very hard, but also have big hearts. So, keep up the good work and we will support you all the way, from all the different levels, so that we can help our friends, our fellow human beings, so that everyone can have a chance to have not only good, but better lives currently, in the years ahead, and in future generations.
15. When individuals, organisations and employers such as Intune Music offer second chances to ex-offenders, they inspire others to do likewise. This collective giving and receiving of second chances form a virtuous cycle of hope and inspiration, creating a more inclusive society. It helps to remind ourselves, that we are each other’s stories, we are each other’s second chances. Let us choose to do better, together.
16. Thank you, and my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of you. Thank you.