Speech by Damien Chng:
“First and foremost, a very huge “thank you” must go out to the members of TWC3 for initiating and organizing this event. It has been a tough journey but in their best spirits they have never given up and I hope that today will be the first in a tradition that will continue for years to come.
It is an honour for me to have been recognized as a promising civil society advocate but what I have done would be nothing without the people who have helped me along the way.
I am eternally grateful to my colleagues and friends at second chances, Kirsten and Priscilla, both extremely capable women who we cannot do without.
I must also pay tribute to Ravi, who has revived the spirit of public interest lawyering that has been long lost.
Ravi has ignited a new discourse on constitutional law and human rights in Singapore and it is up to the new generation of lawyers to build on his achievements, and that is something which I am determined to do.
I must also pay tribute to the other individuals who we have had the great fortune to work with (some of who are not here today):
- The two Vincents
- Soh Lung
- And everyone else who has helped and supported us along the way.
A personal note of thanks must also go out to others who have helped me both professionally and personally:
- Mr Peter Low
- Zheng Xi
- Professor Michael Hor
- Chris Yap
- My classmates from the RTG class in school
I also have to thank you to my parents (who are here today) for giving me their unflinching support throughout the years.
And of course, I have to say another big thank you to the most important person in my life, Priscilla, for all the love and support that you have given me throughout our time together and for being the best companion that I can ever ask for.
Finally, I’d like to say a few words about civil society in general.
I know that we’ve come from a past that has been marked by adversity and oppression, but when I look back at the history of civil society, I see a story of friendship, courage and compassion.
I see the story of people who had the courage to stand up and speak for those who did not have a voice and for what they felt was right even though they risked losing their livelihoods, people like T T Rajah, Dr G Raman, Soh Lung, Peter Low and many others who I might not have heard about but whom I’m sure share the same amount of conviction.
When we look at civil society today, I’m sure many, if not all, of you would agree that this spirit has not been lost. While we may not face the same obstacles that our predecessors did, we nevertheless continue to advocate for the causes that we believe in with the same amount of conviction that they had.
We also see so much more new faces, with so much more energy stepping out to stake our claim to the democratic space that rightfully belongs to the people, and it fills me with hope to be able to say that we are finally seeing civil society coming out of the closet to regain its rightful place in society.
And I also like to say that it is a privilege to be able to be a part of civil society and in the company of all of you here today. Thank You.”