The Appreciation and Appointment Ceremony for the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) was held today at the Float at Marina Bay. ACCORD Co-Chairmen Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Defence Mr Heng Chee How, and SMS Mr Zaqy Mohamad, expressed their appreciation to the 36 current members who will be stepping down on 24 August 2022 and welcomed 17 new members who were appointed.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Heng highlighted the contributions of the three Councils in rallying strong support for and overseeing the implementation of various ground-up initiatives to good outcomes. He said, "These are sampling examples of the efforts through the years and very positive outcomes. None of which would have happened automatically; all of which had only happened because of the commitment of the members of the three councils. Not only in coming up with the ideas, but also working very tightly together to see to the implementation to secure those results.
Mr Zaqy highlighted the positive impact of the NS55 ground-up initiatives led by ACCORD members to commemorate 55 years of National Service (NS) and the relevance of ACCORD moving forward. He said, "As we commemorate 55 years of NS, we have seen the public come forth with various forms of support. We have seen ground-up initiatives such as StayFit@Work, NS55 TikTok Dance Challenge and overwhelming participation for the NS55 Fitness Challenge. Our initial target was just 55 million steps, but we have reached 550 million steps, 10 times past target." He added, "In these times where national security becomes of utmost importance, especially the heightened sensitivities with what is going on in Europe with Ukraine, Russia, and the tensions in the South China Sea… this is where community comes together, Singapore comes together – the industry, employers, association and community, they all have a role to play as part of our Total Defence (TD) efforts."
Mr Neil Parekh, Chairman of Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICC), shared his enthusiasm in joining the ACCORD Employer and Business Council for a second time. He said, "When I first served in ACCORD from 2016 to 2018, I was part of the team that was involved in the NS Mark accreditation scheme. Over the years, I have seen the scheme grow in strength with more supportive employers and organisations coming on board. As an incoming member for the new ACCORD term (2022-2024), I am honoured to be given this opportunity again to work amongst like-minded people to create opportunities for employers to support NS and TD."
Ms Samantha Ng, National Youth Council (NYC) Inspirit Youth Leader and SAF Volunteer Corps Volunteer (SAFVC), spoke of her initiative to commemorate 55 years of NS. She said, "In commemoration of NS55, ACCORD members ideated and implemented various NS55 ground-up initiatives over the year. Leading the NS55 Fitness Challenge, I am glad to see the strong community support shown by the 2,400 participants who walked more than 550 million steps in support of our National Servicemen. This milestone exceeded our initial target of 55 million. I am pleased that such programmes are able to bring together members of the community from various walks of life in support of NS."
In the past two years, ACCORD has continued to strengthen support for NS and defence among the education, business and community sectors and to cultivate greater appreciation for the contributions of our national servicemen. Through initiatives such as ACCORD Employers & Business Council’s StayFit@Work Challenge, ACCORD Family & Community Council's NS55 Fitness Challenge and ACCORD Educational Institution Council’s TikTok Dance Challenge, ACCORD members have rallied partners within their networks to co-create and co-deliver ground-up initiatives in commemoration of NS55.