Singapore, 29 July 2009 – Given her passion for Malay culture and the arts in Singapore, Mdm. Som Mohamed Said has pioneered and led local artistic cultural groups, earning her countless awards and recognition. She is the winner of the prestigious Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award 2009 announced today by Berita Harian.
The award is in recognition of her remarkable success on the cultural front and for her outstanding leadership and creativity, which have led to international exposure for Singapore's arts and Malay culture.
Mdm. Som will receive the award tonight from Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.
The annual award, now into its eleventh year, is given to Malay/Muslim individuals for outstanding achievements in their chosen field. The recipient must show perseverance, determination and a willingness to overcome odds, possess outstanding integrity and be looked upon as a role model for the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.
The winner is picked by a panel of seven judges drawn from the Malay/Muslim community, headed by Mr Wan Hussin Wan Zoohri, President of LBKM (Prophet Muhammad Birthday Memorial Scholarship Fund Board) and SMBA (Singapore Malay Badminton Association).
Mdm. Som's involvement in the Singapore arts scene began when she became one of the pioneering members of the Sriwana Cultural Group in 1965. Since 1968, she has been instructing and directing the group's dance section, earning her the position of Artistic Director from 1985 to 1999. She has also been a dancer with the Singapore National Dance Company since 1971, and a choreographer of Malay dance for television, festivals and parades since 1974.
Since 1972, Mdm. Som has been representing Singapore in various arts and cultural performances in countries such as Greece, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Germany, New Zealand, Korea and Australia. The passionate ambassador of the Singapore arts scene received the Ministry of Community Development Cultural Medallion in 1987, in recognition of her efforts and contributions to promote various cultural exchange programmes. In 1989, an initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board called the “Experts Media Tour” saw Mdm Som touring cities in the USA such as New York, San Francisco, Washington, Seattle and Miami, to promote Singapore culture through interviews on radio, magazines and newspapers.
Mdm. Som received the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat(PBM) from the President of the Republic of Singapore on the nation’s 27th birthday in 1992.
Her strong passion and resourcefulness in the arts came into greater play in 1997 when she founded Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Limited. It demonstrated her full commitment to further developing the arts scene in Singapore. Its mission was to ensure that the arts was accessible to all, regardless of age or race, through Arts Education Programmes and a public outreach programme. These arts exposure and experience programmes were targeted at primary and secondary school students, enriching their knowledge and firing their enthusiasm in their cultural heritage. Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Limited also aims to serve as a platform for professionalism in the arts. Mdm. Som's theatrical repertoire include titles like Lagenda Tun Fatimah and Lagenda Raden Mas.
Mdm. Som’s entrepreneurial spirit stood out when she set up the very first Malay wedding boutique in Singapore, Ratu Sari Bridal House. She had defined the entrepreneurial venture as a ‘full-time career’, and her role in the arts outreach programmes a ‘full-time hobby.’
On the international stage, Mdm. Som was awarded the Special International Friendship Award in 2004 by the Festival Internazionale del Folklore, an Italian festival organised annually in Agrigento, Sicily since 1955. The award was in recognition of her devotion in taking Singapore arts to the international arena, and for being an inaugural global ambassador for the arts and Singapore culture.
Previous winners of the Berita Harian Achiever Award were:
- Dr Mansoor Abdul Jalil, lecturer with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS)
- Professor Aziz Nather, director at the Tissue Bank and consultant with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NUS
- Madam Halimah Yacob, Assistant Secretary General of NTUC
- Mr Iskandar Jalil, master potter
- Mr Iskandar Mirza Ismail, veteran composer
- Haji Abu Bakar Maidin, a veteran of social service
- Mr Zulkifli Baharudin, Chairman of Mercy Relief
- Mr Mardan Mamat, millionaire golfer
- Mr Ashley Isham, fashion designer, and
- Datuk Mohd Zain Abdullah, accomplished businessman in the shipping industry.
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