Yellow Ribbon Awards 2021 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

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

Award recipients

Ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon to all of you.


1.   The past two years have been challenging for all of us. The pandemic has been challenging, but you have continued with your strong support for Yellow Ribbon.

2.   Thank you, for your hard work.

The Power of Paying it Forward

3.   The theme for today’s event is “We Are Each Other’s Second Chances.”

4.   Each of us can play a part to create an inclusive society, to accept ex-offenders.

5.   Let me share one story which involves two of today’s award recipients.

6.   Mr Philip Lim, one of the award recipients today – he, with his generous support for inmates and ex-offenders during the pandemic, has helped tremendously in the preparation and delivery of care packs for seniors living alone in rental flats in Southeast CDC. Phillip has been one of the strongest advocates for the Yellow Ribbon cause for many years. He also mentors ex-offenders in his personal capacity.

7.   One of Phillip’s mentees, Mr David Siow, receives an award today. Phillip began mentoring David in 2011 – 10 years ago – shortly after David was released from prison for drug-related offences. Phillip encouraged David to turn his life around through education. With Phillip’s guidance, David went on to attain a diploma and eventually a degree in Accounting and Finance. Today, David works at Tasek Jurong, which is a non-profit organisation, where he provides youths who are at-risk and ex-offenders the same kindness and support that Phillip had shown him.

8.   This tells us how acts of kindness can change the lives of ex-offenders and also inspire them to do the same for others.

9.   Ex-offenders like David serve as testament to the transformative power of second chances. By paying it forward, you affirm the trust of those who had supported you. You create a virtuous cycle of support for ex-offenders and their family.

Community Support

10.   Just like any of us, ex-offenders require pro-social support from those around them, someone to be there for them to celebrate their successes, to help them overcome their challenges, and motivate them to get back up if they stumble.

11.   Volunteers play these important roles. You befriend ex-offenders and provide that human connection, assuring ex-offenders and their families they are not alone in their journey. This is even more important in periods like now, when we are not able to regularly meet with those we care about.

12.   I am not able to highlight all the volunteers who are here today, but I thank each one of you for your tireless dedication to improving the lives of ex-offenders and their families. We urge more volunteers to step forward and contribute in your own ways.


13.   Employment is a key component to reintegration of an ex-offender.

14.   Employment allows ex-offenders to be financially independent, form social linkages and develop a structured lifestyle.

15.   That, in turn, increases their overall well-being and reduces the risk of re-offending.

16.   To support ex-offenders to embark on meaningful careers, YRSG and the Singapore Logistics Association, or SLA for short, will set up a training academy within Changi Prison Complex next year. More than 500 inmates will benefit from the courses each year, with job opportunities available after their release.

17.   But these efforts can only succeed with the support of employers willing to give ex-offenders a second chance.

18.   Jabez Koh is one such employer. He will receive an award today. Jabez was himself an ex-offender. In 2014, he founded Infinite Transport, which provides logistics and transport services. He understands the difficulties faced by ex-offenders. He is committed to give them a chance at success. He has hired 43 ex-offenders to date including Fairizal, whom you had seen in the video earlier.

19.   We are happy to honour many employers like Jabez today. You have shown a commitment to provide a conducive and accepting environment for ex-offenders to work, thrive, and build a better future for themselves and their families. You are their second chances.


20.   The journey of rehabilitation and reintegration is not an easy one.

21.   Today’s award recipients show that ex-offenders are not alone in their journey.

22.   Let us continue to inspire more in the community to step forward.

23.   Together, we can achieve the Yellow Ribbon Vision – “An inclusive society, a nation beyond second chances”.

24.   My heartiest congratulations to all award recipients, and have a great day ahead.

25.   Thank you.