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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at Mapletree-SCCCI River Hongbao Hackathon 2020

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at Mapletree-SCCCI River Hongbao Hackathon 2020

Mr Tan Aik Hock, Chairman of the River Hongbao 2020 Organising Committee,

Mr Edmund Cheng, Chairman of Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd, 

Judges and Participants of the Mapletree-SCCCI River Hongbao Hackathon, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1     A very good evening to all of you and Happy New Year! I am pleased to join you at the River Hongbao Hackathon 2020, sponsored by Mapletree Investments and supported by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


2     The River Hongbao has been an important part of Singapore’s annual Chinese New Year festivities since 1987. Made possible by the efforts of community groups, corporations, and government agencies, it is an event that brings Singaporeans together to celebrate our culture, our traditions, and our community.


3     The introduction of the Hackathon last year was a meaningful addition to the River Hongbao. Besides supporting youth entrepreneurship in the retail industry, it has also created an opportunity for youths to get involved in celebrating our culture, traditions and community. This year’s theme of ‘Go Local with a Twist’ has challenged participants to come up with creative offerings that incorporate uniquely Singaporean elements. 


4     To the nine shortlisted teams here today, well done for making it to this stage. You have put in lots of effort to develop your ideas and prepare for your pitches. I congratulate all of you for taking up this challenge to grow your entrepreneurial skills. And I hope you will remember the importance of the 3 Ps in your future endeavours – Perseverance, Partnership, and Paying it forward.


5     Perseverance is an important trait for all of us as individuals, and also collectively as a society. The same applies to running a business. We know that not all startups will succeed, in fact many will fail.  And those who eventually make it have to surmount many obstacles along the way. As you pursue your dreams, your tenacity and resourcefulness will be tested.  There will be difficult moments throughout the journey, even near-death experiences where you find your business at the brink of collapse.  But do not be disheartened. The lessons that you learn from these experiences, both positive and negative, and the determination to pick yourself up in the face of setbacks will prepare you for the next bigger step you will take in future, whether you continue being an entrepreneur or choose another career path.


6     The second P is partnership.  No man is an island, partnership and teamwork are key to achieving success. Besides your individual efforts, it is important to collaborate with others to work towards your goals. All of us have different strengths, and bringing together different skillsets and perspectives in a team will allow us to achieve more. I trust that all of you have also benefitted from the mentoring provided by our retail experts as part of this Hackathon. Again, the benefits from partnership extend beyond this competition and even entrepreneurship.  It applies to all areas of our lives, so knowing how to work well with others is an important skillset to develop. 


7     Last but not least, as you pursue your passions, it is my hope that you will always remember to pay it forward by using your success and your skills to help uplift others in society. The winners of last year’s River Hongbao Hackathon raised over $2,500 for their supported charities, and I am pleased to know that the winning teams this year will similarly be pledging 70% of their profits to charitable causes. Besides financial contributions, you can also pay it forward by sharing your experience and mentoring others in the future, to help build a caring and inclusive society.




8     Let me close by sharing a Serbian Proverb, which nicely captures some of the points I shared above:

“Be humble, for you are made of earth.

Be noble, for you are made of stars”


9     I also want to thank the River Hongbao 2020 Organising Committee, Mapletree Investments and Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry for organising this competition, and all the teams for your enthusiastic participation. I wish this initiative success and may it continue to grow over the years to benefit more batches of young entrepreneurs.


10     Thank you and hope everyone will have a happy, healthy and successful 2020!


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