by Atikah Amalina
Philanthropists and government officials need to do more to build mutual trust and to align vision and strategies, in order to reap the synergies from public-philanthropic collaboration (PPC).
Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) members, ASEAN ministers and senior officials, and the ASEAN Secretariat discussed this and more at the inaugural ASEAN Philanthropy Dialogue in Singapore on 21 March 2018.
Hosted by APC and part of the fringe events accompanying Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship, the Dialogue provided a platform for active discussion on PPC in growing social impact jointly.
The benefits of PPC and the various modalities of its engagement were presented in the APC’s Green Paper on Effective Public-Philanthropic Collaboration in ASEAN. In sharing its main findings, Laurence Lien, CEO of APC, iterated that a mindset shift was critical in helping philanthropists and governments understand each other’s relative strengths and unique context in addressing increasingly complex social problems.
Four APC members shared their experience in philanthropic projects that complement and supplement government initiatives, including Belinda Tanoto from the Tanoto Foundation, Kathleen Chew from YTL Foundation and Simon Flint from Dymon Capital (Asia). The projects showcased were Pelita Pendidikan in Indonesia, Global School Leaders Malaysia and the 1000 Days Fund in the region respectively.
During the open and engaging discussion that followed, Mr Desmond Lee, Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development expressed his admiration for the showcased projects, yet raised caution for sustainability due to the constraints faced by philanthropists and governments. He opined that it would require extensive discussion and coordination between government and philanthropists if the aim is to scale projects for greater social impact. He also repeatedly assured that governments, and in his case, the Singapore government, remain open for collaboration opportunities.
Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN Secretary-General, articulated his support for the dialogue and wishes for more in-depth exchanges in the future.
Deputy Secretary General, Mr Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, also signalled his support by saying that “philanthropy should be encouraged to be a household term in ASEAN”.
Government delegates from the various countries were receptive to the idea of collaborating with philanthropists to complement the government’s work.
The session closed by APC Chairman Stanley Tan emphasising that philanthropists and governments can make partnership viable and effective in investing to make lives better and build capacity. He hoped that the Dialogue was just the beginning of greater impetus to forge the trust and understanding needed to spark new possibilities for cross-sectoral partnerships.