At Just Laugh Fundraising Charity Event
25 June 2021
Guest of Honour Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very warm welcome and sincere note of appreciation goes out from me on behalf of Law Society Pro Bono Services to thank each and every one of you for joining us virtually for Just Laugh. This is the latest incarnation of our annual fundraising event. We started with Just Walk. Just Sing, Just Jubilee, Just Sing and now Just Laugh.
Originally slated for 2020, Just Laugh fell secondary casualty to COVID-19 necessitating postponement. Frankly, if we did this last year, it would have been called “Just Cry”! However, as Winston Churchill said once “Success is not final, failure is fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”. To Co-Chairs, Fundraising Committee, Thio Shen Yi, SC and Adrian Tan together with the supporting Secretariat team, thank you for your courage to continue and indomitable spirit. We are here today only because you persevered.
We thank our Guest of Honour Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, for gracing our event tonight. Minister Tong, there will always be a special place in the heart of the Bar for you. You are one of us.
We also thank each and every one of you for tuning in and turning up. Most of you would have had a long day at work, and presumably zooming in and out of meetings. Yet we are grateful that you chose to be here in a spirit and show of solidarity for pro bono. We are immensely grateful for your passion.
Importance of Pro Bono
Pro bono has always been at the heart of the legal profession. Many of you here have stepped into the calling of law to enrich and elevate the lives of others. A powerful sense of mission of access to justice undergirds this noble calling on all our lives. It is vitally important, at every level of seniority, achievement, or designation for us to constantly remind ourselves of the “why”. That existential personal statement will drive our work, impel us forward, fuel our motivation, lubricate our wheels and also keep us grounded.
Volunteers and Donors
Everyone at this virtual event has given towards this cause in one way or another. We will never compare contributions between time, talent or treasure because they are inherently different and yet intrinsically distinctive. We thank all our partners, donors, supporters and volunteers for giving generously and contributing charitably. Tonight is your night. It is our opportunity to celebrate and honour you. Each and everyone of you have been nothing short of inspirational with your diverse and unique contributions. Together, they make up the giant ocean of compassion that has made a world of difference to individuals and institutions in Singapore and a difference to their world. We are deeply humbled by the privilege of your partnership with us for pro bono publico in our Singapore community.
Without your proactive and sustained efforts, LSPBS would not have achieved what we did in the last financial year of 2020/2021. When the pandemic hit us, you continued to give of yourselves despite personal and professional challenges. There are commitments that in peace time are valuable but in wartime are invaluable. And in the raging war against a virus measuring in nanometers, your commitment was more than a commitment. It was a sacrifice. Only history can do you justice of the labour of love compelled by compassion in the exceptional year we experienced together. But even in such a year, you had perfect 2020 vision to provide care-filled and careful, seamless and splendid service to the vulnerable, needy and indigent needing access to justice.
In the last financial year, we reached an exponential number of 13,000 people through our law awareness talks and webinars. This was made viable via a unique online mode of delivery that we pivoted on. Roughly 1,400 individuals benefitted from consultations at our pro bono legal clinics. Approximately 1,550 accused persons received legal advice from CLAS, with more than half of them receiving representation. Our new baby at LSPBS – the Family Justice Support Scheme – which was born out of Project LEAF, helped 75 applicants facing family law issues.
It is your support in multifarious ways, big or small, that is paramount to our making an impact bigger and better. We have the potential to make access to justice a mission embraced by every individual or institution, every home and office. The great ocean of compassion is a blue ocean for us all.
This leads me nicely to my next point – one of the climactic moments of tonight. As at this moment, we have collectively raised more than S$380,000 for Just Laugh. We are especially grateful to Eugene Thuraisingham LLP and Mehigan LLP for being gold donors of this event by donating S$50,000 each. Eugene, our Pro Bono Ambassador and Bertie Mehigan, you and your firms are pure gold. Funds raised from this event go towards our Justice in Action campaign which will fund LSPBS’s operating and programme costs. We cannot thank you enough for being the literal lifeblood of LSPBS at a time when donor dollar dries up and some charities face existential issues.
Throughout tonight, you will still have the golden opportunity to contribute to this worthy cause. Among other unique items, we have four bottles of specially brewed aged Barely Legal gin which we will be auctioning off. We look forward to your active participation and enthusiasm in the silent auction tonight to cheer us on and keep yourselves and us in high spirits!
With that, I wish you a breathtaking night of fun and laughter! With Adrian Tan not being MC tonight, thankfully, the mike will not be used as a weapon of mass destruction and only mass distraction, Humour is indeed a powerful weapon to combat COVID-19. We know laughter is the best medicine. Instead of a good sense of rumour, a good sense of humour especially the ability to laugh at yourself (Adrian’s secret recipe) will continue to keep us sane and level headed. So, Just Laugh!
I now pass the time to our Guest of Honour, Minister Edwin Tong, to say a few words.