Appreciation Lunch Welcome Speech by Loong Seng Onn





Justice Belinda Ang, Judges and Judicial Commissioners of the Supreme Court, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues and Friends

Good Afternoon.

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to attend our modest appreciation lunch today. It is always such a pleasure for me and my SMC colleagues to meet and catch up with you at this annual event.

2014 was a really good year in terms of growth in SMC’s work. You have helped us manage our increased workload: 57% increase in mediation matters; 65% increase in adjudication applications; 30% increase in the number of training workshops. Last year, we also went through a re-branding exercise to refresh our image and our strategy for promoting mediation.

Our work though, is far from done.  We have much more to do to spread the mediation message – our hope is that all disputants at least consider mediation, before resorting to adjudicatory mechanisms. Our strategy is to start with businesses -to let the business world know that mediation is not a soft option but a strategic tool to manage disputes. Once the commercial world embraces mediation, the rest, we hope, should follow.

To have a stronger connection with businesses, we have added several business personalities to our Board of Directors. They are:

Mr Daniel Ee Independent Director Keppel Infrastructure Fund Management Pte Ltd;

Ms Teresa Lim, Vice President, Marketing & Strategy, IBM Singapore Pte Ltd;

Ms Olivia Lum Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Hyflux

Mr Ong Yew Huat who is now Chairman, National Heritage Board Ltd

Ladies and Gentlemen, keep your eyes peeled to this space and watch out for how SMC, in our small way, and with your help, will be contributing to the evolving dispute resolution landscape.

Our future plans include capitalising on our training track record and hiving off our training work to a specialist centre for conflict management training. The plans are for the centre to attract regional training clients and we intend to organize a signature training workshop at least once a year, partnering with the best overseas experts in dispute resolution. This training academy will likely be launched at the Singapore Pound Conference 2016 – which is the other exciting initiative, I would like to let you in on.

The Global Pound Conference, a watershed series of conferences, developed and overseen by the International Mediation Institute, hopes to collect user data from various stakeholders on Appropriate Dispute Resolution, thereby improving, and maybe even reinventing dispute resolution as we know it today. Supported by the Chief Justice and MinLaw, and led by Justice Belinda Ang, the Singapore Pound Conference will involve a whole-of-Singapore effort. Global Pound Conferences are expected to be organised in close to 30 cities all around the world including London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Hong Kong. I am proud to announce that we have negotiated with the International Mediation Institute for Singapore’s conference to be the very first of all these conferences. Being the first will enhance the reputation of Singapore as being a thought leader in the dispute resolution world. The Singapore Global Pound Conference will be a platform to showcase Singapore’s dispute resolution infrastructure and services.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I would now like to take a step back and to remind ourselves why we are here today - beyond the statistics, the conferences and events, and the economic benefits, there is a very human face to what we do. You are in the business of touching and affecting lives. Let us not forget the individuals whose fractured relationships you have re-built, whose financial worries you have dissipated, whose professional reputations you have saved, whose pain and anguish you have extinguished.

These are the human stories behind what you help us do. And sometimes, when the going gets tough, it helps to remind ourselves that in our small way, we are contributing to a better Singapore.

Interest in mediation has spiked. Singapore International Mediation Centre and Singapore International Mediation Institute were launched last year.  Numerous articles on mediation have appeared in the press in the last 10 months or so. Mediation is now, and rightfully so, the flavour of the month. Let us not lose the momentum but build on it. It has taken close to 20 years for us to reach this stage.   And very importantly, some of you have been with us from the beginning - loyally soldiering on and never losing faith.

We thank and salute you, our comrades, our fellow ‘warriors for peace’. We thank you for having been with us in the past, for continuing to be with us in the present and for, I am sure, being with us in the future.

Ladies & Gentleman, I wish you an enjoyable afternoon. Thank you.