Working hand in hand in the New Year

I am aware that it is already end January but as they say, better late than never, so let me first wish you a successful and fulfilling 2016.

Before I take stock of the last year and set down my thoughts for the new year, I would first like to recognise all those who have contributed to the work of SMC.

Firstly I would like to thank SMC Chair, Justice Belinda Ang and the SMC Board for their guidance and support. I also owe a big debt of gratitude to my SMC colleagues, numbering but a baker’s dozen, for their tireless dedication to the promotion of mediation, and the provision of mediation and training services. Last, but by no means least, I would like to thank the many neutrals (mediators, adjudicators, neutral evaluators, SDRP panellists), education supporters (assessors, trainers, coaches), partners and friends who have assisted, encouraged, and most importantly believed in, us and our quest to promote and professionalise mediation.

And now for a quick review.

Although there were fewer mediation matters in 2015 (compared to 2014), overall, in the last few years, there has been an upward trend in mediation numbers. As compared to 2012, caseload has increased by 34% in 2013, 120% in 2014, and up to 67% in 2015. In any case, we feel that there is still much work to do. I recall Attorney-General V K Rajah saying that the move to promote mediation is about changing culture (or words to that effect). SMC will continue to promote, push, prod, pester and persist until the day comes when mediation is foremost in the minds of disputants and dispute professionals. However, we cannot do this alone. We have to work on this together with you. We need you to serve as Mediation Ambassadors, to help us change the culture of dispute resolution - from combative to conciliatory, from win-lose to win-win. Having said that, my team has done a pretty good job at raising the profile of mediation. Here are some facts and figures:

  • Collaborations with 9 Trade Chambers and Associations
  • Total number of organisations who have signed the Singapore Mediation Charter has doubled
  • 6 media releases and features in the news, with another 56 mentions of SMC in various media coverage
  • 43% increase in workshop participants

2016 looks to be an exciting year for SMC. A fitting kick-start to the new year is the Global Pound Conference (GPC) taking place in Singapore on 17-18 March 2016. It is the first of more than 35 ADR (Appropriate Dispute Resolution) events all around the world. GPC Singapore promises to be a unique event in terms of the diversity of the stakeholders who will be participating and due to the way new voting and participative technologies will be used to gather actionable data and different views on ADR. Watch this space for other exciting developments such as the launch of a dispute resolution training academy, working with the Family Justice Courts in developing an international family mediation framework and working with the healthcare sector to divert disputes to mediation.

Together, I am confident that we can change culture.

Loong Seng Onn
Executive Director
Singapore Mediation Centre

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December 2015 Issue. For past issues, read more here.


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