Every year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the National Day Rally. The National Day Rally 2018 speech happened at the Institute of Technical Education College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio.
It is an annual tradition of his to highlight local movers and shakers in the current landscape, raining praises on these Singaporean companies.
This year, these 7 companies and individuals got the honour of a mention from PM Lee.
1. theAsianparent by Tickled Media
The company recently raised S$6.7 million and its series B funding brings the startup’s funding to over S$11 million. It also operates in 5 offices across Asia with over 120 employees.
What PM Lee said: Roshni Mahtani founded a media company, theAsianparent.com, which is a website that's extremely popular with many Singaporean parents with young children. It is the largest parenting platform in the region.
2. 99.c0 by Darius Cheung
99.co is an online search platform that connects buyers and sellers, as well as agents, in Singapore and Indonesia. The real estate search engine tripled its revenue in 2017 and continues to grow exponentially.
What PM Lee said: Darius cofounded 99.co, a search platform that connects buyers and sellers, as well as agents, in Singapore and Indonesia. It was noted that in Indonesia, there is a lively startup and tech scene with many opportunities for growth. The Prime Minister congratulated both Roshni and Darius on their respective successful ventures.
3. SBTG by Mark Ong
SBTG (pronounced sabotage) specialises in selling customised sneakers for celebrities.
Inspired by his parents, Mark's talent stemmed from his drawing ability that he cultured as a teenager. The style of SBTG caught the eyes of many people after he won an online competition in 2003.
He sold 72 pairs of sneakers overnight, each going for S$300 and above. Now, many of the older models are considered vintage, fetching thousands of Singapore dollars per pair now. The punk-rock art style has attracted celebrities such as Kobe Bryant.
What PM Lee said: The Prime Minister jokingly lamented he wished his old sneakers were worth as much. PM Lee acknowledged that Mark owed his dream of being able to come to fruition to Mark's parents, and thanked Mark for making Singapore proud as a result of following his passion. Mark's story shows that passion can indeed be made possible.
4. Dr Azha Ali
Dr Azha Ali is a senior research scientist at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI). He leads a team constituted of researchers from Singapore and the US, studying and developing a slimming drug that can control lung cancer.
What PM Lee said: Dr Ali is an example of a Singaporean following their passion and putting Singapore in the spotlight for the right reasons.
5. Sim Chee Yin
Sim Chee Yin is an award-winning photographer and artist who holds the distinction of being the first Asian to be commissioned for the Nobel Peace Prize photographers last year. Her adventurous projects have included travelling to places such as North Korean and Kazakhstan. Ms Sim was also recently invited to join Magnum Photos.
What PM Lee said: Another example of pursuing a passion that leads to excellence is Sim Chee Yin. It's important to note that joining Magnum Photos is no small feat. Being part of the exclusive and highly prestigious photography company membership is by invitation only - you cannot apply for a job here. Although Chee Yin was unable to join, her parents were presented and congratulated on her success.
6. Michael Kerr
Kerr runs the 79-year old family-owned business, Kway Guan Huat Original Joo Chiat Popiah & Kueh Pie Tee. He quit his job as a pharmacist to help his father's business selling popiah. The family business has an impressive legacy making and feeding delicious popiah and kueh pie tee to hungry people. As the 3rd generation who owns the company, Michael travels around the world to promote popiah and Singapore food.
What PM Lee said: An example of sacrifice and filial duty. The PM wished Michael good fortune for all his future endeavours.
Wong Kah Chun is a conductor and composer.
Discovering his passion for Western music as a child, his math teacher invited him to join the school band. After nurturing his gift in music, Kah Chun won a scholarship to the NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Following his successful stint there, Kah Chun won another scholarship for his Masters in Germany.
After years of honing his craft, he is the chief conductor of the 72-year old Grammy award-winningNuremberg Symphony Orchestra in Germany at the tender age of 32. Kah Chun's other endeavours include being a guest conductor for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and running a philanthropic project titled "Project Infinitude". The project brings music to children with special needs. Kah Chun is paying forward his gift of music by helping other children discover it.
What PM Lee said: Despite Kah Chun's prestigious appointments, he returns back to the same HDB flat he grew up in, with no air conditioning or flashy amenities that modern condos have. Yet the PM was proud to declare Kah Chun preferred his family accommodation because Singapore is home - better than any high-class hotel in the world.
Did you tune into the National Day Rally 2018? Let us know your favourite parts about it in the comments.
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