As TOC’s “Honour in Singapore” series drew to a close, we sent a number of queries to Honour (Singapore)’s chairman Lim Siong Guan and executive director Jason Wong to clarify on some of the issues we raised. They declined a recorded interview, opting for an email response instead.
The following are their answers, which we have presented in two parts due to their length, according to the question type. All answers are attributable to Mr Lim Siong Guan unless otherwise stated. They have requested us to present their answers without comment, so that you may make your conclusions about them on your own.
Why did you choose the term “honour”, given that it is a highly subjective term that means different things to different cultures, even within Singapore?
The virtue of honour is advocated by all cultures, races and religions. The fact that it could mean different things to different people underlines the point that it is a prevalent virtue that can manifest itself in many different ways, from little courtesies like small kindnesses and being on time for appointments, to honouring parents and strengthening family ties, to employers paying wages on time and CEOs valuing their people.
Honour (Singapore) seeks to promote a culture of honour and honouring in Singapore. We believe Singapore’s success owes much to us being a people who honour our word. And going into the future, we need to be a people who are prepared to honour each other by being willing to hear each other’s views and seeking to understand one another even though our opinions may differ on how to create the best conditions for success for our children and grandchildren.
How do you feel Singaporeans are lacking in honour – specifically, what studies have you done to ascertain this lack – such that an NPO like Honour (Singapore) is necessary?
We started Honour (Singapore) not because Singaporeans have lost the sense of honour, but because we believe it is a virtue all Singaporeans should uphold as critical for both our success of the past and a good way into the future. We seek to draw out what so many Singaporeans already instinctively feel in their hearts and minds, and hope to perpetuate for the well-being of the generations to come.
To help understand our perspective, we should start by asking ourselves what is the difference between “liking” and “loving”. We would soon come to realize that “liking” is when something or someone pleases us in some way, while “loving” is when we seek to do what is good for the other person. Seen in this way, liking is self-centred while loving is other-centred. Similarly, honour is other-centred; honour is what we offer to other people because we care about them as human beings and fellow citizens.
Will your charter also include asking the government to honour its promises to Singaporeans made over the years, and if so, in what aspect will this be done?
Honour (Singapore) does not seek to tell people or organisations what to do. This has to apply to our perspective on the government also. We are not an advocacy group on government or public policies. Our agenda is narrowly focused and limited to promoting a culture of honour and honouring as our contribution to the well-being of the nation.
It was noted that you have the same office as FGB Singapore, which you said was done to get things going quickly. Can none of the board of directors afford to pay for a separate office space?
As Honour (Singapore) grows in its reach and its activities, it would have to move to a larger office. We would welcome offers of suitable space at suitably attractive rentals.
What exactly are the activities that Honour (Singapore) has planned for?
We have to reach all segments of Singapore society: schools, families, businesses, workplaces, community groups. We will be happy to give talks or participate in events if we are invited to do so. We also have a website that points to articles and presentations which convey how honour may be manifested in different ways, and also a blog site that presents perspectives on honour each week.
We are developing four programmes for different audiences: These are Leading with Honour, for those who are leading groups of people; Living with Honour, for everyone who wishes to understand how little acts of honour in daily living build community and friendships; Loving with Honour, for those who would see honour as the basis for strong families and long-term personal relationships; and Learning with Honour, for those who see learning as what empowers them to realise their potential in life.
We note that one of the requirements for obtaining IPC status requires you to list all past or planned activities. Very little was revealed to the public in this aspect about Honour (Singapore), so how then did you obtain IPC status? Did a Minister have to support the application, and if so, which one?
Honour (Singapore) did not raise our application for IPC status with any Minister. We submitted our application as required by the Commissioner of Charities.
Top image – Honour (Singapore) website.
The “Honour in Singapore” series includes:
- Part 1 – Defining honour, for what purpose?
- Part 2 – About chairman Lim Siong Guan
- Part 3 – About executive director Jason Wong
- Part 4 – Keepers of the “gates”
- Part 5 – Strong government endorsement warranted?
- Part 6 – Relooking objectives and funding
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