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Keynote Address by Mr Lim Boon Heng, Chairman, Temasek at the Launch of the Temasek Philanthropic Platform

6 September 2016

Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman, Temasek Trust
Chairmen of Temasek Foundations and Temasek portfolio companies
Ladies and gentlemen

A very good morning to one and all.

At Temasek, we are committed to our role as a trusted steward. Just as we take a long view in our investments, we look out for the long term interests of our communities.

You saw in the video how we took steps to build the foundations of community investing by establishing our non-profit philanthropic organisations (or NPPOs for short). You also saw just some of the remarkable contributions they’ve made in their relatively short history.

When we established these organisations, we built their focus areas around four key themes: 

  • Building People;
  • Building Communities;
  • Building Capabilities; and
  • Rebuilding Lives.

I won’t repeat what you saw in the video about each of the NPPOs, but I would like take a few minutes to share with you some insights into why and how we do community investing.

Temasek’s journey of giving back to the community dates back to our inception in 1974. Since then, we have established 16 endowments and committed over S$2 billion for community initiatives.

These diverse endowments have touched the lives of more than 300,000 people in Singapore and across Asia.

Our philosophy goes beyond a typical donation model. Endowments are an important principle for us – they are what we do differently to many others… because we can. 

They give our NPPOs the opportunity to sustain long term community programmes, instead of worrying about whether a programme can endure past its first year or two.

Our engagement with communities is based on the twin pillars of sustainability and good governance.

In 2003, we instituted a policy of setting aside a portion of the returns we make above our risk adjusted cost of capital for community contributions through these endowments.

This policy is founded on the concept of sustainable contributions.

We also need to make sure that there is good governance in managing these funds.

The skills and capabilities to manage funds are very different from the skills for developing and managing community and social programmes.

That is why we formed Temasek Trust in 2007.

Temasek Trust independently provides financial oversight and governance of our endowments. This allows our NPPOs to focus on what they do best – developing and running community programmes.

They can go about managing their programmes knowing the endowment funds are prudently managed, so that they get a sustainable source of support through the years.

We brought on board the right people, with passion and commitment, to be a part of this journey. Each NPPO has its own mandate, and is guided by a capable board.

As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. But teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

We strongly believe in this principle. It’s why building capabilities is such a strong component of what we do.

We provide our beneficiaries with a hand up, instead of a “hand-out”.  This promotes lifelong skills that will make a difference to their lives, and the people around them.

A recent initiative was to establish the Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund – or T-PREP. 

Temasek Cares administers T-PREP, and uses it to help build our community’s capabilities in preparing for and responding to emergencies.

During the 2014 haze, all households in Singapore received three N95 masks. I heard many people say, in the last week or so, how they found their mask kits useful as the haze returned.

You saw just a few other examples in the video of how our NPPOs are helping throughout our community. If I were to list all of them, we’d be here until dinner!

Today, we embark on a new chapter in the work we do in our communities. 

We are ready to tackle new challenges, but keep our commitment to ones where there is still work to do.

Singapore’s resilience as a community stems from its ability to adapt to – even lead – the changing world. 

Yet, a compassionate society does not leave people behind. 

So our NPPOs must evolve to stay relevant and effective, and to maintain our mission of building people, building communities, building capabilities and rebuilding lives.

Today, I have the honour of introducing The Temasek Philanthropic Platform, which brings together our existing endowments under a new structure of six foundations, each with distinct mandates and focus areas.

This Platform will oversee 17 endowments – including one established only this year – under the six new foundations.  

They are:
Temasek Foundation International
Temasek Foundation Cares
Temasek Foundation Connects
Temasek Foundation Nurtures
Temasek Foundation Innovates
Temasek Foundation Ecosperity

A new, dedicated support centre called Temasek Foundation Management Services will provide people, management and support services for all the foundations.

And importantly, Temasek Trust will continue to provide financial oversight and management of disbursements for the foundations.

We have identified leaders, all very capable and passionate, to lead the foundations. I have every confidence they will uphold the highest standards required in their new roles as stewards of the foundations.

Temasek is constantly evolving and changing how we do our work. But our role as a trusted steward and our commitment to advance communities –  why we work – will not change.

The establishment of the Temasek Philanthropic Platform is not a new direction for us. It does signal the next step in our continuous journey of community investing.

It also reinforces our commitment to the sustainable development of the wider community, for generations to come.

Before I close, I would like to take a moment to pay a special tribute to our former President, the late Mr SR Nathan, and express our appreciation for all that he has done for Temasek.

Many of us here will fondly remember him as a strong supporter of social and charitable causes. Mr Nathan was also very interested in, and supportive of, our NPPOs and community initiatives. In fact, he was the founding Chairman of one of our NPPOs – STEP – back in 1997.

Mr Nathan’s flair for diplomacy and international relations saw him lead STEP in engaging and connecting with youth in Singapore and Asia, building a network of friends across countries.

Till today, STEP continues to build on the foundation that he laid, building bridges amongst the future leaders of Asia.

On behalf of Temasek, I wish to express my sincere thanks to the people who pioneered our NPPOs and continue to serve and support them as we transition to this new Philanthropic Platform.

Through the efforts of good people, we can do good things together.

I thank you all for joining us at this launch, and for the role you play and support you give to our communities.



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Investment Themes

Investment Themes

Our investment activities continue to be guided by four investment themes and the long term trends they represent.