SINGAPORE: In the speech President Tharman Shanmugaratnam gave at the Centennial Celebration of the Singapore-Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) on Saturday, May 4, he noted that while SICCI’s roles “have evolved quite dramatically over the years.”

One of SICC’s roles has always been relevant: being an integrator between the various segments of the Indian business community.

“Those with roots and networks in different parts of India, and both those long established in Singapore and newer enterprises including those which have arrived in Singapore in more recent years,” said the President, adding:

“That role as an integrator between old and new, between businesses from different Indian ethnicities, must always be in your minds, and on your agenda as a Chamber.”

Gracing the event as well were Mrs Jane Ittogi Shanmugaratnam, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, Minister of State Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary Eric Chua, and of course, Mr Neil Parekh, the Chairman of SICCI.

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The President acknowledged in his speech that the chambers’ beginnings had been “in very different times,” and SICCI has had to adapt from the days when Singapore had been a colonial trading station, to gaining independence, to having a diverse and internationalised economy today.

“SICCI has progressed to serve the Indian business community in a broad range of sectors, well beyond the trading community.

It is playing an especially important role in helping businesses to embrace the opportunities of a digital and sustainable economy, and to invest and operate abroad,” he noted.

FB screengrab/SICCI

President Tharman went on a historical trail, tracing back to the time of the Indian Merchants’ Association (IMA) beginnings in 1924 and how it expanded under the helm of various leaders, including Mr P Govindasamy Pillai, whom he called:

“A giant among our pioneer business leaders, who sought to advance the collective interests of the wider community.”

He urged SICCI to actively promote opportunities to work together with non-Indian businesses in Singapore, adding that this is something all other local business chambers and trade associations should do.

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He also noted the growth of Singapore’s relations with India, saying:

“I need not talk at length about the opportunities that India presents. Suffice to say that it is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and is widely expected to remain so for several years to come.”

President Tharman mentioned the different industries, such as the semiconductor sector, where there can be further opportunities between the two nations, adding:

“I encourage more of our Singapore companies to visit India, and in particular to explore different Indian states in more depth.”

Commending the leaders of SICCI for their contributions to Singapore’s development, he also reminded the organization to:

“Never forget, though, that your ultimate responsibility is to the Singapore community.” He added that he is glad to note that the chamber is working with groups to serve those in need and develop opportunities for everyone.

He ended his speech with a quote from Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore, who said: “I slept, and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.”  /TISG

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