Current Affairs

Pwee Foundation’s new board to continue supporting non-partisan causes


Six of the board members of Pwee Foundation: (left to right) Robin Loh, Maritz Mansor, Subramaniam Thirumeni, Benjamin Pwee, Vincent Ng, Nadine Yap

Benjamin Pwee, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the newly appointed board members of his foundation will continue to help the underprivileged without being partisan to any political groups.

Of the 10 board members of the Pwee Foundation – excluding Pwee, who remains as board director – three of them are not affiliated to his opposition party.

Pwee, who has led the foundation since its inception in 2012, said, “I really want to show that our foundation is not political, not partisan and not part of my party, it’s really an extension of my company E-deo Asia. Therefore, we work hard to bring in others who have nothing to do with politics at all into our extended board.”

In an interview with Yahoo News Singapore,  the Secretary-General of DPP revealed that the foundation has even invited Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament and an MP from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), to be one of its board advisors. Tan, who is Pwee’s former schoolmate from Raffles Junior College (RJC), has yet to give a formal reply.

The foundation helps communities in Singapore and overseas through various programmes. It sponsors social causes and connects beneficiaries with entities that can assist them, including voluntary welfare organisations, social enterprises and government agencies.

Three of the board members are directors: Juliana Juwahir, Robin Loh, Vincent Ng. They have replaced banker Michael Low, lawyer David Chee and marketing communications professional Jonathan Yang.

The other board members are non-executive director Nadine Yap, board advisors Subramaniam Thirumeni, Maritz Mansor, Chia Ser Lin, Aun Koh and Ang Thiam Huat, and a doctor who declined to be identified.

Juliana, Ng, Yap, Loh and Chia are also members of the DPP, an opposition party which was established in 1973.

Koh, Maritz and Ang have links with the political establishment. Koh is the son of Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-At-Large while Maritz is the son of the late PAP MP Mansor Sukaimi. Ang, who is a senior executive at Flextronics Manufacturing (Singapore), is a PAP member.

Another member that Pwee is looking to add to his foundation as research advisor to his board is Seet Pi Shen, son of former PAP MP Seet Ai Mee.

As the board is dominated by members with links to the DPP, Pwee said some people might have the perception that the foundation may not be non-partisan.

But he stressed, “(These are personal friends) who I was in school with in RI (Raffles Institution) and RJC, whom I do business with (and with) whom I am involved in the social sector way before I joined politics and way before I invited some into the DPP.”

Past achievements and new direction

Since its launch in 2013, Pwee Foundation has focused on causes ranging from education, healthcare, to the environment.

The foundation has provided assistance to the underprivileged living in Singapore such as sponsoring a children’s library and a literacy programme for two Pertapis units.

Outside of Singapore, it has invested US$500,000 (S$659,645) in an energy start-up to provide electricity to villages in Cambodia and sponsored scholarships in Kenya targeted at supporting a local community living within two key ecosystems, among other outreach efforts.

Looking ahead, the foundation is aiming to expand its reach among the local communities through its board members. For instance, Maritz can link up with a mosque that he volunteers for while Subramaniam has contacts with a Hindu temple, according to Pwee.

“In the past, we didn’t have a focus on minorities in terms of racial, religious segments and we would go straight to self-help groups. This time, we are hoping to work with religious organisations that are already reaching out to the communities,” Pwee said.

Another issue that the foundation will be focusing on is the mental health of workers and others. Pwee said he has met some of his peers who have lapsed into depression after losing their white-collar jobs. As such, the foundation aims to bolster the self esteem of affected professionals so that they can get back on their feet again.

With the changes in the board, Pwee said he would no longer be the main driver of the foundation, which will be guided by the board members who have their own “heartbeat topics”.

He added, “What we are doing now is to expand the board with the advisors who then broaden out the causes so that the causes are going to be board-driven.”


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