Smart Nation Ambassadors Appreciation Dinner 2023
Opening Remarks by Dr Janil Puthucheary at Smart Nation Ambassadors Appreciation Dinner 2023
01 Mar 2023
Good evening. We are here tonight to celebrate you, our Smart Nation Ambassadors (SNAs), and to express our thanks for all your contributions in the past year and more. And of course, we encourage you to contribute more.
Tonight, we’ve asked you to share your ideas about what you want to see in a Smart Nation of the future. And later this evening, we will see a visual collage of these ideas. But technology is not just of the future; it is of the here and now. What our Ambassadors spoke about in the video, some of the ideas on the doodle wall – these are important today. And that is why Smart Nation must involve everyone, right from the start. Your involvement is important in helping us build an inclusive society where everyone can enjoy the benefits of going digital.
SNAs’ Key Contributions for the Past Year and Honouring our Star SNAs
Over the last year, we are grateful to have been able to return to our engagement activities, both online and offline. And we are even more grateful for how you continued to volunteer at these events. Whether it’s guiding members of public onboard the ation Builder, gathering feedback on digital government services at the Digital for Life Festival, or helping seniors redeem their NS55 credits on LifeSG – you were there, you were part of their positive experience.
We are constantly encouraged by how you are committed to help the community navigate digital technologies, and how you are passionate about sharing about Smart Nation. And today, we want to honour 4 of our Star SNAs.
Last year, when we started recruiting volunteers to lead community tours at CityScape, many of you stepped forward, spent the time to go through training, and gamely took on the role.
Aldwin Teo is one such volunteer. He has led more than ten community tours so far, sometimes even taking leave to do so. He enjoys the connections with people at these tours. And because he sees that the community is so eager to learn, he himself puts in extra effort to find out more about any tech he is unsure of. Like bringing his family to check out the drowning detection sensors at our public swimming pools, and HDB’s smart parking system at Punggol Northshore to see how the technology works. As the MP, I welcome all of you to come visit Punggol Northshore. So I am very glad that Aldwin takes his volunteer role very seriously!
Another Star SNA Addie, used to work with a VWO called Cycling without Age. They do very meaningful work, helping seniors who are socially-isolated. They organise trishaw rides with assistive technology for seniors with limited mobility, and even virtual world tours with VR sets. And she loves helping seniors experience tech in joyful ways. So, she continued partnering with us – conducting webinars and organising sessions at the last Digital for Life Festival for seniors to have fun with VR. And you would have seen her in the video played earlier, helping the senior put on the VR goggles. I am fairly sure the senior was saying wow, as she looked around.
In November last year, we organised our first Smart Nation Grandparents’ Day. It was wonderful to see so many grandparents with their grandchildren at this event, having fun exploring tech. It shows that technology can in fact bring people together; and it can become a family affair. Thank you to our SNAs who helped curate booth activities, conduct talks, and engage with our visitors.
But there is one grandparent that we have to make special mention of today – Madam Rahimah Salimin, our super grandmother with 19 grandchildren! She is an inspiration to all of us and I am sure you will agree with me on her quote in the video – Harimau mati tinggalkan belang. Manusia mati tinggalkan nama. She explained it in the video, but just to make the point here – the most important thing about us is our humanity, and our name relates to our reputation and integrity. I am sure this is the same view for many of you as well. And we can see why her grandkids are so proud of her. And just to share a little more about Rahimah – she works full-time at a hospital, and when she is not working, she likes to bond with her grandchildren by exploring the latest social media apps and playing online games with them. She also loves talking to other seniors, and helping them figure out ways to make life easier and better with tech.
Back in 2020, when I witnessed the signing of the MOU between RSVP Organisation of Senior Volunteers and the Smart Nation Office, one of the objectives was to have a pool of tech-savvy seniors who can help other seniors learn about Smart Nation. Our fourth Star SNA, Michael Tan, is one such volunteer. He loves sharing his personal experience to help other seniors navigate digital apps. And we are thankful to him for being one of our most active SNAs.
I also want to take this time to thank our community representatives who have been active in the SNA Citizen Co-creation Group that we set up last year. Many of you are also here tonight, and we want to thank you for being part of our Smart Nation community. With your help, we have conducted feedback sessions on everything from improving our neighbourhoods with smart city solutions, to improving the accessibility of GovTech’s website for persons with disabilities.
At the beginning of my speech, I talked about how Smart Nation is an effort that involves everyone, young and old. And everyone can contribute ideas for Smart Nation. Many of you have submitted your ideas about what you want to see in Smart Nation. I can see that our artists, Elizabeth and Eugene, are almost done filling up the doodle wall with some interesting illustrations. The range of ideas is really quite breath-taking! It will inspire us to think about how we can continue to expand the volunteering opportunities, and create new avenues for us to work, create, and learn together.
SNDGO is moving towards the next bound of Smart Nation. You will be hearing more about our new plans in the coming months. But here, let me just share that first, we will be focusing on creating more opportunities for citizens and businesses to flourish. Second, we will ensure that we can go digital with confidence, in safe and secure online spaces. The digital space that Singaporeans live, work, and play in must be well-protected, just as we have done for our physical spaces. And third, we want to build a stronger and more connected community in this version of Smart Nation 2.0. We are looking at ways in which tech can help the community become more resilient, and also foster closer ties between people. For all these efforts, we will need your continued partnership and support, as well as your expertise in making a Smart Nation that cares for everyone. Thank you very much to all who have done this already and thank you for joining us here today.
With that, thank you, and I hope you have a nice evening ahead.
Dr Janil Puthucheary
Senior Minister of State,
Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health
Minister-in-charge of GovTech Singapore