Greater collaboration across Asean rotary clubs with new charter signed

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SINGAPORE - Rotary clubs from 10 Asean countries were united under a single committee on Saturday (May 14) in a signing that will help to strengthen member efforts in supporting social and environmental issues in their communities.

The new Rotary Intercountry Committee Asean brought together more than 42,000 members from 1,600 Rotary Clubs across the region. It held its first assembly at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday.

President Halimah Yacob was present at the event and said in her keynote address: "The formalisation of this platform is indeed a significant milestone, and will provide opportunities for Rotarians from Asean member states to connect, exchange ideas, and innovate as you advance your social mission."

She noted that the past two years have highlighted the important work of organisations like Rotary International.

For example, the Rotary Club of Singapore set up a Covid-19 unemployment fund for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. It also donated face shields, surgical masks and gowns to frontline workers.

She added that the new committee will support Asean in fulfilling commitments around building a socially responsible, inclusive and sustainable regional community.

"Community-building cannot rely solely on top-down policies and must be complemented by ground-up efforts that engage people at the personal, individual level," she said.

Asean secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi said that given the increasingly strong regional presence, Asean Rotary members should take a leading role in embracing the Asean identity in their activities.

Dr Philbert Chin, founding committee chair of Rotary Intercountry Committee Asean, said the committee will be the largest of its kind in the world and will be a partner of Asean in delivering social and cultural services.

Some US$150,000 (S$209,000) was pledged at the event to support humanitarian projects.

Focus areas in Asean include supporting the environment, education, healthcare and gender equality, said Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in an interview with The Straits Times.

"I see there is need ...

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