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Welcome Address by SMRT President & Group CEO, Mr Desmond Kuek at SMRT's 30 Years of Giving Appreciation Dinner

Commemorating 30 Years of Giving

Good evening Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, distinguished guests, friends and colleagues.
 
A very warm welcome and thank you for joining us to commemorate 30 years of our MRT operations, and 30 Years of Giving by SMRT. 

Our special thanks to the Minister for gracing this occasion. Your presence and support means a lot to our staff and our partners, as we commemorate 30 Years of Giving and pledge to do even more in the coming years.  

Giving Our Best: Our Commitment to Society

SMRT celebrates our 30th anniversary this year. From its beginning in 1987 with just five stations running from Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh, today the North-South and East-West Lines are Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT lines. Despite its age, because of ongoing renewal, upgrading and proactive maintenance efforts in recent years, rail reliability has improved more than five times over as many years. We continue to work on further improvements in a multi-year, multi-project effort across the network, and when we complete our re-signalling programme and other system and process enhancements, we can look forward to even better operational performance in service of our commuters. 

As we charge ahead with our engineering, maintenance and operations, across all the business lines, we are mindful of our commitment to society, and to work with our partners to lend a helping hand to those in need. 

Making a Difference: Our CSR Milestones

We have three pillars in our Corporate Social Responsibility agenda: Encouraging Environmental Sustainability, Empowering through the Arts & Education, and Enabling Mobility. Allow me to take a few minutes to walk you through some of the highlights over the years.  

We believe in supporting our local arts scene. Art in Transit, a guided tour of key artwork along the Circle Line, was launched in 2011 in collaboration with LTA and Art Outreach, a non-profit organisation that promotes art education in Singapore. In 2015, we collaborated with Pathlight School, which serves students with autism, to commission transport-themed art pieces by students and alumni, and we displayed them across our transport network.

We take our responsibility to protect the environment seriously and are committed to giving back to the world that our future generations will inherit. An ‘SMRT is Green’ movement was launched organisation-wide in 2008, underscoring our commitment to sustainable development through the promotion of public transport, green practices and the use of green resources. Today we are also the largest fleet operator of environmentally-friendly Toyota Prius Hybrids taxis.

In 2006, we created the Silver Tribute Fund to support critical care services for the elderly poor in our community. Through fundraising efforts such as flag days and annual charity shows, we raised over $6 million, and helped more than 10,000 elderly beneficiaries to live their years with dignity and peace of mind. 

In 2008, SMRT started a Gift of Mobility programme to help improve quality of life by providing financial assistance to needy individuals with physical disabilities or who are physically impaired. Beneficiaries were provided access to taxi services to bring them for medical treatment or get to the workplace. Since then, the programme has disbursed more than $1.6 million worth of services and helped close to 8,000 beneficiaries through Social Service Organisations, hospitals and Community Development Councils.

We are also keen to champion inclusiveness in our society. Under the Care & Share Movement, we sponsored Singapore’s first inclusive playground in 2015 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. This playground allows children with special needs to play alongside other children in a safe environment. Following the success of this, a second inclusive playground was opened in May 2016 in Ghim Moh, this time also integrating facilities for the elderly as well as children with special needs so that different generations in our community can come together at play.

Our corporate volunteerism efforts have also grown over the years. Our staff contribute to the SHARE (Social Help and Assistance Raised by Employees) programme, in support of the various charities funded by the Community Chest of Singapore. Over the years, more than $6.4 million has been donated to Community Chest through such staff contributions. In 2009, SMRT received the inaugural SHARE Partner Platinum Award from the President in recognition of our contributions, and in 2013, we went on to receive the 5-Year Outstanding Partner Award and 10-Year Outstanding SHARE Award. We are pleased to continue in these efforts with the Community Chest.
    
We have been collaborating with the Singapore Red Cross since 2004 to organise blood donation drives within our transport network, for commuters and our own staff. There was even one organised on board a train at Ang Mo Kio MRT station in 2004; but as you can understand, we have not repeated this since because we need the train to carry substantially increased passenger loads. In 2010, SMRT was named Champion Blood Donor for the sixth consecutive year at the World Blood Donor Day commemoration, and in 2011, we received the Bloodmobile Organiser Gold Award.

Our staff volunteer regularly and help to raise funds for seven adopted charities: AWWA, Bizlink Centre, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, Geylang East Home for the Aged, Handicaps Welfare Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore and SPD.  

In June 2015, SMRT supported Wheels@Ubin, a community project which brought 100 wheelchair users on a tour to Pulau Ubin to celebrate SG50. 100 of our Taxis ferried the participants to the jetty from their homes. For many, it was the first time they had set foot on the shores of Pulau Ubin. 

This evening, we want to express our deepest appreciation to you, our partners, for making our journey in giving, such a meaningful and impactful one. 
We are heartened to have collaborated with so many like-minded partners in our efforts to give back, like the National Council of Social Service, Home Nursing Foundation, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Wind Symphony and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, who are performing beautiful pieces for us tonight, and many others.

I want to also thank our many volunteers for their selfless acts of love and care. Many of you are here tonight. Some have served for many years, while others have just joined – and to name just a few of you, such as Cindy Chua from Circle Line Station Operations, Desmond Pang from Building & Facilities, Andrew Tan from SMRT Services and Vicky Gunawan from SMRT Institute.  To all our staff volunteers here tonight, may I ask you to stand.  Thank you for caring and sharing with your heart, and for inspiring many others with your personal example.

Going Beyond: Taking CSR to the Next Level

Building on our strong tradition of giving back to the community whom we serve, as we cross this milestone 30th anniversary in SMRT, we will take our Corporate Social Responsibility to a whole new level.

Tonight we are pleased to unveil the Gift of Mobility Fund, an integrated giving platform to serve the community and help build an inclusive society. In celebration of our 30th anniversary, SMRT pledges to set up $30 million in cash and contributions in kind over the coming years to aid those with mobility needs in our community. 

We look forward to partnering the fundraising and engagement arm of the National Council of Social Service, Community Chest, to channel the funds towards supporting those in need and enabling the social service sector.

With this heightened level of sustained funding, we invite Social Service Organisations to work with us on how SMRT can help their beneficiaries, particularly the elderly and those with physical mobility needs.

Some of these donations will be used to support new infrastructure projects. One such immediate project is our collaboration with St Joseph’s Home in the coming weeks, a nursing home that includes an infant and childcare centre. Our donation of an inclusive playground at the Home will also allow interaction across generations between the elderly with mobility needs and children attending the childcare centre there.

We are also tapping on this Fund to support Singapore Red Cross’ first ‘Clinic on Wheels’ programme called Therapy Aid, bringing physiotherapy directly to the elderly in our community, in line with MOH’s idea of bringing healthcare to homes.

In the pipeline is also an innovative pilot through a three-party arrangement between Singtel, MINDS and SMRT, aimed at improving our SMRTConnect mobile app to make land transport more inclusive and accessible for those with mobility and other special needs.  

We look forward to supporting, at the national level, an inclusive, barrier-free transport network. SMRT is already embarking on an Inclusiveness Service Programme. The basic infrastructure is already in place. For example, in our MRT stations and bus interchanges, we have tactile paving surfaces to help the visually impaired, ramps for wheelchair users and families with strollers, and handicap toilets for the physically impaired. Beyond these initiatives, in partnership with the Ministry of Social & Family Development, we are training our staff to be able to better recognise and understand the needs of the elderly, visually and hearing impaired; and to assist them on their journeys.

Over at the Mobility Park in Jurong Community Hospital, we are also enlisting the support of NTUC Learning Hub to train up more than 4,000 staff from across our business units, using realistic scenarios and hands-on training, so that they are better prepared to help persons with disabilities traverse our transport network. 

Building a More Caring Society

Thank you once again for joining us tonight to mark our 30 Years of Giving, and to continue your partnership with us into the future. We can all work together to build a more caring society, pulling our energies together to effect meaningful change in promoting inclusiveness and accessibility. Being at the fore of commuter service, we are committed to providing safe, reliable and comfortable rides for all our passengers, in line with our vision of moving people, enhancing lives. We already carry more than a billion passenger journeys a year on our trains, buses and taxis. It would be even more special, beyond those numbers who commute each day, that we can go the extra mile to bring a smile to even that one more elderly or special-needs person by extending a hand to help them with their travel journey. 

Thank you all for continuing with us on our journey of giving.  Have a great evening. 

-end-

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