Homecoming 2018: Speech by Mr Dennis Foo, President of ORA

Address by Old Rafflesians’ Association President Mr Dennis Foo

Thank you all. This must be the one of the largest turnouts for a Homecoming Dinner.

It’s occasions like this that remind us of the great Rafflesian Spirit and community.

Guest of Honour, Emeritus Professor Lim Pin;

Chairman, RI Board of Governors, Mr. Choo Chiao Beng;

Principal RI, Mr. Frederick Yeo;

Principal RGS, Mrs. Poh Mun See;

Excellencies, distinguished guests, fellow Rafflesians

Tonight’s event is part of the 195th Anniversary celebrations of Raffles Institution. In exactly one week’s time RI will be celebrating its Founders Day on Saturday the 28th of July.

This year is also the 95th year since the ORA was officially set up.

ORA was officially formed on 23rd August 1923 when the first General Meeting was held at the School Hall then in Bras Basah Road. Our first President was Sir Song Ong Siang. Mr Song, or Sir Ong Siang as he was popularly known, was a distinguished barrister-at-law, a community leader, legislator and the first Chinese in Malaya to be knighted by King George V in 1923.

The current Council is our 91st.

Mr Dennis Foo shared how proud he is of ORA's history. 

Tonight it is our great honor to have with us on this special occasion all six immediate past ORA Presidents from this millenia.

In the spirit of the Gryphon Award that honours Rafflesians who have made significant contributions, I want to take this moment to pay tribute to this group of gentlemen who have kept the ORA flag flying.

Mr. Lim Soon Hock was our 16th President from 2000 to 2001. He was the President who brought ORA into the new millenia and made use of the internet to reach out to Rafflesians young and old by creating the first Rafflesian portal. He was a revolutionary at that time who always wanted to do things differently. He convinced his Council to have the first Guest of Honor for a ORA Dinner be from the private sector, and invited Dr. Albert Hong.

He was also the first to have a Lady to be GOH in the Honorary Justice Judith Prakash, an RGS Alum. Her brother Simon De Cruz is with us tonight. At that dinner, I was told, the RGS Alumni turned out in record numbers! Incidentally, Justice Prakash is now the chairperson of the Board of Governors of RGS. Soon Hock will thus be remembered as the ORA President who charmed RGS.

Our 17th President was Dr. Lee Soon Tai, in 2002 and 2003. Dr. Lee continued to build on Soon Hock’s initiatives and expanded on the outreach programs. He also engaged with the RGS Alumni and ironed out the many issues so that future alums from both schools are better integrated. Many of Soon Tai’s patients are Rafflesians including our very own Bilahari who is here with us tonight!

Dr. Chan Tat Hon was our 18th President, from 2003 to 2004, when he was the Assistant Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board. However, not long after he was elected, SARS broke out. Tourism was in the doldrums and he was in crisis management mode. Together with another Rafflesian, Lim Neo Chian, who was Chief Executive of STB at that time; they coined the simple but very effective slogan, ‘SINGAPORE OK!’ which reassured tourists that Singapore was safe to visit. Still Tat Hon and his very capable team in the Council continued to chart the course for ORA.

He had a very dynamic Honorary Secretary then, Mr. Cheng Soon Keong, who was also the Treasurer during Dr. Lee Soon Tai’s term and served as our 19th President from 2004 to 2009.

Together, with their Councils they initiated several amazing programs.

First, they revived the Kiwi Cup and created the Jim Weir Cup for old boys in 2003.

In that year they launched many Rafflesian networking sessions at the then Equinox in Raffles City that saw hundreds of Rafflesians turning up each time.

In 2004 they revived the Ortega Cup between SJI and RI which is still ongoing today.

2004 was also the year that the ORA Visa Card was changed from Standard Chartered Bank to United Overseas Bank. Incidentally, the idea of the ORA Visa card was mooted by one of my classmates Mr. Wilson Chia who is also here tonight. This was in the mid-1980s when Dr. Chan Peng Mun was our President.

In 2005 during the ORA Dinner with Singapore’s immediate past Prime Minister, ESM Goh Chok Tong as GOH, they launched the second edition of the book, ‘The Eagle Breed a Gryphon’ by Mr. Eugene Wijeysingha. And in 2009, they saw the merger of RI and RJC with then Principal Lim Lai Cheng. 

What a list of achievements!

Dr. Lim Ee Koon was our 20th President who served between 2009 and 2013. He was the person that amended the ORA Constitution including limiting each President not to served more than 3 terms. Dr. Lim also introduced the ORA Honorary Life Membership. Among the recipient is our GOH tonight Professor Lim Pin. Dr. Lim also started the ORA Speaker Series, which has been continued into the present.

Finally, our 21st President. He was the President who brought me back into the Council and I served him for 6 years. He’s none other than Mr. Andrew Chua. During his 3 terms, Andrew brought many young Rafflesians into the Council. He also reshaped the Council, and brought more ladies in. For the first time the ORA Council had more ladies than Men! You can see why he’s very popular with the RGS Alumni.

Many RGS Alums are on our ORA Golf Committee which is chaired by our Vice-President Cheong Yoke Keng an RGS Alum herself who has been actively raising funds for both schools.

He also introduced the Special Interest Group Program, in Sports, in Music and continued Ee Koon’s Speaker Series to engage more old Rafflesians.

In fact, tonight’s dinner is in part his brainchild. He had the foresight and was bold enough to have an ORA-organized Dinner in such a huge ballroom.

Thank you Andrew, and a big Thank You to all our past Presidents.

Mr Dennis Foo acknowledged all past ORA Presidents present at the dinner. 

Tagged Topics

#Alumni #school happenings

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