The Letter “A” Represents…

This anniversary, we checked in with a few thought leaders on the A-words that hold significance for them.

Just like how the letter “A” precedes others in the alphabet, every meaningful conversation begins with a viewpoint.

This is the first of a two-part series.


Serene Chua

The finance professional and the co-founder of Wolf Burgers and Carvers & Co sits on the board of directors of the ISCOS ReGen Fund — a charity fund that serves reformed offenders and their families — and serves as a First Circle member of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation First Circle (Asia).

“To amplify your existence from your heart to your actions, is to make a huge difference in this world. I truly believe that no beauty shines greater than that of a kind heart, and it is in giving that we can receive.

As a member of the first circle of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (Asia), I want to amplify awareness about protecting the environment and promote sustainable development. Funds raised contribute to limiting the effects of climate change, safeguarding biodiversity, managing water resources and promoting renewable energy. I believe that by saving the planet, we are making it more sustainable and livable for many future generations to come.

At ISCOS ReGen Fund, we provide holistic support to reformed offenders and their families, to prevent intergenerational offending. This is an underrated cause that deserves our full support as we move towards being a caring and inclusive society that rebuilds lives. In 2019, I joined the charity and helped to organise its first ISCOS Ball to amplify awareness and promote social impact as we rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-offenders and their families back into society.

Due to the unprecedented Covid-19 situation, we have had to come up with creative ideas, such as selling Christmas cakes and Chinese New Year pineapple tarts made by ex-offenders. We’ve also moved our fundraising efforts to digital platforms such as Giving.sg, and in March, we launched our Stay. Enjoy. Give campaign to direct proceeds from staycations at The Clan Hotel and Singapore Marriot Tang Plaza Hotel to the Fairy Godparent Programme.

I believe we can amplify our hearts, minds and voices to create meaningful and positive social change together. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’”


Rebecca Eu

The founder of social enterprise Mei’s Own, which produces handcrafted home and lifestyle products, wants to uplift survivors of sex trafficking and underprivileged children in the Philippines. She also serves as a volunteer consultant for several non-profit organisations and commercial projects to help improve their social enterprise endeavours.

“If you think of architecture as a framework, there’s both a science and art within it, and I like where those two meet. It creates something that endures, and that in itself is sustainability. I think that sustainability is a very important conversation to have and we might not know what exactly it means yet. That’s the beauty of it, because we can decide what that means. Is it just going to be a buzzword or will it stand for something and last for a long time?

I don’t have a 10-year plan for where I see myself. But I do know I want to do something important that involves my community. I have decided that I’m the architect of the world that I want to create for myself and my future, and if I believe in sustainability, how can I be a part of that conversation?

I love social impact work, and for a long time, I did identify as a social worker. I was always on the ground doing everything from teaching English and art classes to other ad hoc stuff. That gave me the foundation of knowing that I enjoy working to rehabilitate survivors of sex trafficking, or rehabilitating our community and raising awareness for them. If I can bring that forward, I think there’s a lot of economic opportunity in sustainable practice, and I’d like to keep driving that narrative in Singapore.”


Richard Hoon

Besides serving as CEO of headhunting firm I Search Worldwide, the avid art collector is also the chairman of the Centre for Fathering and its Dads for Life initiative. The non-profit empowers fathers to be good role models for their children.

“For me, the word ‘adaptability’ means that we must not focus dogmatically on attaining our personal goals but embrace the process of life and see how an adaptable mindset can help us in our situations and maybe even inspire those around us to not let life beat them down.

Life’s only constant is change, therefore we should not expect everything in life to come in nice packages. We will have to embrace its ups and downs, and constantly adapt and adjust to reach our destination.

We should seize opportunities when they come along, but we must also be prepared to recognise obstacles as they appear because they are inevitable and unpredictable! That is why it is important to have an adaptable attitude and mindset in life to be able to confront these situations.”

Audience and accessibility

Joy Tan

In addition to being named a leading lawyer in the field of investigations in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations 2021, the partner at Wong Partnership serves as chairwoman of Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) board of directors, and is a board member of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

“Theatre and the performing arts seek to engage and inspire audiences across diverse communities and experiences. I choose to serve with Singaporean arts and cultural charities because I love the immediacy of the audience experience, believe in the life-affirming power of performance art and see it as part of our cultural identity.

In this post-pandemic world, Singaporean arts practitioners are asking ourselves: How can we stay relevant to our audience? How can we grow the arts audiences of tomorrow?

One key way is through greater accessibility. The arts should be for everyone. Our challenge is to reach new audiences who might never have watched or had access to live theatre. At SRT, we are committed to investing in greater accessibility for audiences who may require additional support to enjoy our shows, and together with like-minded partners and the Arts Access Hub, are continuing to look for new ways to develop accessible theatre for all.”


Dr Ganesh Ramalingam

The general surgeon with subspecialities in gastrointestinal, advanced laparoscopy, endoscopy, bariatric and trauma surgery heads G&L Surgical Clinic. As youth service director of the Rotary Club of Singapore, he also champions initiatives that support personal hygiene and mental health both locally and overseas.

“Our ethos for our clinic processes and our practice of medicine happen to be based on 3 A’s: ability, affability and availability. But authenticity is a good summary of how we try to lead our lives, how we practice our trade in surgery and service, and how my wife, Lisa Gwee, and I bring up our children.

We try to achieve all this with a genuine heart, using well-proven and original methods both at home and in the clinic based on accurate and reliable facts. All these intuitive initiatives are to eventually lead and teach a purposeful and meaningful life.

These are all definitions of ‘authenticity’ that we teach our staff and our children and, most importantly, ourselves on a daily basis, with inspiration from our faith.

We manifest these ideals through helping people medically and surgically at our clinic, participating in humanitarian and environmentally-friendly activities and societies, like the Rotary Club of Singapore and the Monaco Foundation, of which both my wife and I are active members, and our own personal charity events through churches and government organisations.”

Art direction by Catherine Wong, photography by Darren Gabriel Leow

This is the first of a two-part series. Check back next week for the next installment.

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