Singapore, 11 February 2020 - For her efforts in providing vulnerable Singaporeans with emotional and mental support and helping the elderly, Ms Angie Chew was named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2019 today.
Ms Chew, 56, founder of Brahm Centre, a charity where people can get health education as well as emotional and mental support, received the award from President Halimah Yacob, who was the guest-of-honour at the ceremony held today (Feb 11) at the Istana.
Her own struggles in life - which included caring for a mother with dementia, enduring years of emotional bullying at work, and grappling with depression - gave her the strength to help others.
Ms Chew founded Brahm Centre in 2012. Besides free health education, the centre also provides services including helping, befriending, counselling and providing dementia screenings for the elderly who are frail and lonely. It also teaches mindfulness skills to help people cope better with stress.
"When I was supporting my mother - and not knowing what dementia is and how to care for her - I realised there was a big gap in the support available for people going through similar situations,” said Ms Chew. "That is when I decided to open Brahm Centre to help people learn to support themselves and their loved ones through mindfulness."
In 2019, in response to increased rates of depression and suicide among the young, Brahm Centre also launched AssistLine, a hotline to offer support to students and parents in distress.
Ms Chew also conducts mindfulness courses for corporations and a graded module on the subject for undergraduates at the National University of Singapore. She donates all her fees back to Brahm Centre.
Organised by The Straits Times and presented by UBS Singapore, the Singaporean of the Year award is given each year to a Singaporean individual or group that has made an impact in society. This could be through achievements which have put Singapore on the world stage, or for improving the lives of others in the community, or showing resilience in the face of adversity. The award is now in its fifth year.
Last year's award was won by Ms Siti Noor Mastura, who co-founded non-profit organisation Interfaith Youth Circle, which promotes a better understanding of the role that faith groups can play in an increasingly complex and divided world. Previous winners of the award, which was first given out in 2015, include Dr Goh Wei Leong and Healthserve, an organisation that provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare; Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling and his parents May and Colin; and Madam Noriza A. Mansor, who won hearts when she helped an elderly man who had soiled himself in public.
There were 11 finalists this year, including an education consultant who stopped an out-of-control taxi on the expressway with his own car, online marketplace platform Carousell founders who are pushing for more environmentally sustainable practices, as well as a hedge fund founder who is trying to get companies to relook hiring practices with less emphasis on grades (See attachment for full list of finalists).
A judging panel of 14 as well as online voting by members of the public contributed to the final decision. Judges included editors from The Straits Times, social entrepreneur and activist Saleemah Ismail, civil servant Aaron Maniam, Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong and Institute of Technical Education chief executive Low Khah Gek (See attachment for full list of judges).
The winner of the Singaporean of the Year 2019 award was presented with $20,000 in cash and a trophy while the other 10 finalists, whether individuals or groups, received $5,000. The prize money is sponsored by UBS. Other sponsors include Singapore Airlines, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and Osim. SIA will give a pair of business-class tickets for the winner and a pair of economy-class tickets for each of the other 10 finalists. The Singaporean of the Year also receives a five-night stay in any of the global properties owned and managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts. The other finalists will each enjoy a three-night stay. Osim will sponsor a uDiva Star Massage Sofa for the top recipient, and a uJolly Back Massager for each finalist team.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/Tamil Media group and editor of The Straits Times, said: "Mental health and well-being, not least among our young, is a growing issue of concern, in Singapore as well as around the world. As the world grows more complex and seems to move ever faster, everyone could do with some help in slowing things down and finding a little peace and quiet in our minds and lives.The Brahm Centre, founded by Angie Chew, has been a source of help and comfort for many grappling with this in our society. For her leadership, kindness and inspiration to others, she is a worthy winner of the Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award."
Mr Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia-Pacific, said: "UBS Singapore is honored to partner The Straits Times once again to host the Singaporean of the Year 2019. This year marks the fifth anniversary of this special award and I am heartened as we continue to recognize strong, courageous and caring Singaporeans, and be inspired by their stories of selflessness and courage in the face of adversity. A common denominator amongst all finalists, I have noticed, is their wide and open hearts to care for all in the community, friends and strangers alike. This quality is all the more important in today's context as Singaporeans stand united and help each other in battling out the recent Coronavirus outbreak. My thanks to all the unsung heroes, especially our healthcare workers and those on the frontline.
This year, we would like to congratulate Angie Chew for her positive and selfless perspective, motivating many others in their own journeys. Our finalists continue to do us proud with their extraordinary strength of character, acts of bravery and kindness. We congratulate all the finalists as they are each deserving in their own way."
For more information about the award, visit https://www.straitstimes.com/tags/singaporean-of-the-year-2019.
Singaporean of the Year 2019 – Finalists
Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Regn. No. 198402868E
For more information, please contact:
Leong Lin Choo (Ms)
Editorial Projects English, Malay and Tamil Media Group
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 5068
Jackson Thia (Mr)
Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1872
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