Gala Dinner Speech by Dr Kuan Chee Keong, SDA President 2012/14

Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health; Associate Professor Grace Ong, Dean, Faculty of Dentistry; Professor Chew Chong Lin, President, Singapore Dental Council; Dr Seow Onn Choong, President, Singapore Dental Health Foundation, VIPs, SDA Past Presidents, distinguished speakers, SDA volunteers, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the 75th Anniversary celebration. I am very grateful that you could spare this precious Saturday evening to grace this Gala Dinner.

About a year ago, as I was writing a speech and updating the SDA history, I realized SDA will be 75 years old this year. I was worried because 75th anniversary is a momentous milestone and I just didn’t  want to be remembered as the SDA President who messed up the 75th. With our capable volunteers, I was quietly confident that the SDA Convention will be a success. So I may just be remembered as the SDA President who almost forgot about the 75th!

Tonight is a celebration of our 75 years of achievement – the tireless effort of our volunteers, our friendship, close ties, sweat and tear for the past 75 years – we distill all these to instill pride in our Association.

Since our founding in 1938, as you have heard from Dr Vijayan’s recital, we have grown from strength to strength and it is only possible first and foremost, with unity among our members and the dedication of our member volunteers. Tonight is also the Thank You dinner to give recognition to our volunteers who have selflessly contributed their time and effort to the Association.

SDA was founded in the Dental School then at the Singapore General Hospital, not far from this very spot. We have always enjoyed close ties with the Faculty. This year, we have donated $45,000 for the Faculty of Dentistry Undergraduate Bursary.  Furthermore, in support of the Development Fund for the Faculty’s Centre of Oral Health, we have committed $75,000 to the Dental School. On top of this sum, we have raised at least $49,000 at this Gala Dinner. $169,000 may sound like a small sum but to a not-for-profit organization like SDA, it is a small fortune.

Representing over 90% of the profession in Singapore, we best positioned to collaborate with many governmental agencies.  SDA and the MOH Dental Branch have cooperated on numerous occasions. One such collaboration is the Dental Service Directory initiated by our Guest of Honour, Mr Gan Kim Yong. Last year at IDEM Opening Ceremony, Mr Gan encouraged SDA to develop a greenbook type of directory of dental services. We took up the call with no hesitation because not only it is a brilliant suggestion, it is also a worthy initiative.

Patients will benefit from increased awareness and thus, can better make informed decisions. SDA, together with the Singapore Dental Health Foundation and MOH Dental Branch did just that and later tonight we shall unveil this project which we call Know Your Mouth.

One social responsibility project we have initiated with the Singapore Dental Health Foundation is the pro bono dental service. Pro bono dentistry is not new. Our members have been active for years doing mission trips, running dental clinics in institutions like elderly homes and there are also dentists who provide pro bono dental treatments in their own clinics anonymously.

Is there a need for pro bono? Even in a prosperous country like Singapore, there are individuals and families living on the jagged fringes of our society. We cannot just rely on the government to provide for everything. Often charitable services are best delivered by Voluntary Organisations.

Collaborating with Kong Meng San Monastery, SDA and SDHF are planning a dental clinic to provide free dental treatment to the needy. More details will be released in the near future.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the people who made this 75th Celebration a resounding success: Our trade partners; our esteemed speakers; the SDA Secretariat; my fellow Council & the Organizing Committee.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I wish you all a fabulous evening.

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