Through the years
go to Highlights
of Activities through the years
On 20 April 1970, the pro-tem committee for the formation
of SPC met and the following Office Bearers were elected:
Dr Phoon Wai-On (SMA) Chairman
Mr Rex Koh Kim Chuan(SIA) Deputy Chairman
Mr Chan Chee Wah (IES) Honorary Secretary
Mr Foo Meng Fong (SSA) Honorary Treasurer
On 11 July 1970, the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees was
held with Representatives from the following seven professional bodies:
1. Institution of Engineers of Singapore
2. Singapore National Academy of Science
3. Singapore Dental Association
4. Singapore Institute of Surveyors
5. Singapore Medical Association
6. Singapore Institute of Architects
7. Singapore Society of Accountants
With a generous grant of $220,880 from the Commonwealth Foundation
and the offer of 400 sqm premises at a reasonable rental from the
Housing Development Board, the Singapore Professional Centre (SPC)
was officially opened by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr
S Rajaratnam on 18 January 1971 at the Outram Park Block.
The founding philosophy is to bring the professionals together and
harness their unique combination of diversity and talents to build
a better society not only for themselves but also more importantly,
The development of the Centre was summed up by SPC's former patron-in-chief,
Dr Lee Chiaw Meng, as follows:
"When the Singapore Professional Centre was first established
there were doubts about its viability. It had been predicted by many
other organizations, which were established with great initial enthusiasm
but were not able to sustain the interest of their members. It is
not easy for an umbrella organization to be constantly on the move.
This is particularly so for the SPC as it covers such diversified
interest and most of the constituent organizations are fairly active
in their own spheres. To compound the problem, the SPC is not well
Fortunately, the critics have been proven wrong
However, as the founder Chairman had observed so many years ago, "one
of the problems which we have faced from the beginning, is the fact
that professional men and women and sometime professional bodies do
not quite see the need to have an inter-professional organization.
In the case of uni-professional organization, the advantages are sometimes
obvious. They share the interest in a common discipline, they join
together for mutual protection, and they also share the desire to
maintain good standards of practice in that particular profession."
It would seem that once fully fledged, the raison d'etre of an organization
would be clear to all, but the SPC, it seems, can only grow if it
is first able to justify its existence.
Over the years, the membership has indeed evolved and SPC today has
21 member associations, 250 individual members and 1 corporate member,
with a total membership of over 7000.
In 2001, SPC celebrated its 30th Anniversary and if anyone goes through
the various publications over the years, the list of activities the
SPC has pursued since its inception has been hailed as laudable. This
voluntary, non-profit organization has been constantly active throughout
the years, from organising dialogue sessions, talks, seminars and
exhibitions to regional and international conventions, each with a
different emphasis and of varying scales, to meet the needs of its
members and to fulfil its role as a corporate body towards the nation-building
of Singapore. These activities have provided professionals, students
and the general public numerous opportunities for networking, career
guidance, continuing education and avenues to provide feedback and
work with the government.
The country was experiencing drastic changes in all aspects- political,
social and economical- after Singapore's independence in the mid-sixties,
as a result of which massive nation-building programme were put in
place by the government. It was felt then that the professionals could
contribute to this national exercise, and through the vision and commitment
of Dr Lee Kum Tatt, Convenor and Honorary Fellow, SPC, the Singapore
Professional Centre was formed. Diversity in the group has enabled
SPC to take a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach to identifying
issues. Communication between the government and SPC was established
via dialogue sessions and the Feedback Unit.
Dispelling the notion of professionals being of a different stock,
SPC encouraged its members to volunteer their time and effort in community
service. A major contribution to community work was the organization
of a Urine/Blood Pressure Screening Programme which was launched and
conducted at 69 community centres. The project was a follow-up to
the National Health Campaign and was jointly organised by the People's
Association and the National Kidney Foundation. More than 500 volunteers
consisting of members and friends of various associations served in
community centres from 1 October to 26 October 1980.
SPC also played a part in encouraging 169 professionals to volunteer
their services for community projects of the People's Association
in 1979. Recruitment through direct mailing recorded a total of more
than 300 volunteers.
SPC has also mobilised volunteers for the Volunteer Social Service
Bureau and the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association. Another 22 members
were asked to act as Aftercare Officers and Panel Speakers.
Another benchmark of SPC's dedication towards community development
would be SPC's involvement in other associations. In January 1980,
SPC became a corporate member of the People's Association, and the
then Centre Chairman was invited to sit on the Board of the People's
Association. SPC representatives also served in the then Singapore
Council of Social Service and the then Singapore Institute of Standards
and Industrial Research. In addition, two office bearers of SPC contributed
in launching the Singapore Action Group of Elders (SAGE) into existence.
SPC, right from its early years, has been conscious of the paramount
importance of providing career guidance to the young school leavers.
It has recognised that Singapore's growth depended on her youth's
contributing effectively towards the economy and envisaging that career
guidance was the key. This led to SPC's involvement in career education.
The first career exhibition was held in January 1972 at the Victoria
Memorial Hall. In 1973, it was held at the SPC's Outram Park premises
and subsequently at all community centres through an arrangement with
the People's Association.
In 1975, at the 1st SPC Convention "Towards a Better Singapore"
the idea of SPC promoting manpower training for Singapore was raised.
Within a year, the first career exhibition and seminar was held. This
paved the way for the "CAREER" series held annually since
1988. Over the years, the CAREER Exhibition-cum-seminar, from its
first simple set-up at the Outram Park Block, is now the largest regional
career exhibition. CAREER 2000 incorporating Recruitment 2000 recorded
over 334,000 visitors and 305 Exhibitors from 14 countries. 122 seminars
were organised. Today the CAREER series caters not only to the young
school leavers, but also to the public commencing a second or third
In 1993, the SPC initiated the SPC Student Ambassador Award with the
main objective of nurturing the global spirit among young Singaporeans
and to increase students' awareness of the importance of career planning.
The contests from 1994-97 were based on the students' knowledge and
competence in languages. In 1998, it was based on scholastic, extra-curricular
contributions, interpersonal skills and leadership qualities. In 1999
and 2000, the contests were a 5-minute IT Multimedia presentation.
Prizes were presented by the Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony
of the CAREER Exhibition-cum-Seminar and the Top Award Winners each
year, was awarded a weeklong overseas attachment during the March
or June school holidays.
As our economy depends primarily on our labour force, our work force
must therefore increase productivity and develop more creative, flexible
and adaptable skills to meet challenges. Most people are generally
not aware of the need for continuing education or place little emphasis
on it. Recognising the dire need to promote a training tradition amongst
our workforce, SPC together with its member associations and other
professional bodies and training institutions formed a committee in
1985 to hold discussions with ministers on continuing education. In
1987, the Voluntary Certificate of Continuing Education and Development
was established. Under this scheme, an individual is awarded a Certificate
in Continuing Education and Development based on his/her attainment
of 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) within a 24 month period.
The CEU is recommended by the committee to give a quantitative measure
to the learning activities. Each CEU is defined as "four contact
hours of learning in an organised continuing education experience
under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction."
The foresight and vision of SPC's convenor Dr Lee Kum Tatt and the
dedication and commitment of the past Chairpersons, Office Bearers
and Board Members who laid the foundation for the organization to
be not only as "a model for other professional centres in the
Commonwealth" - (Dr Humayun Khan, Director, Commonwealth Foundation,
October 1994), but to have attained the success as well as the continued
support and recognition received from both government bodies and private
sector for its programmes confirm SPC's achievement of its founding
In the SPC- First Twelve Years Publication, the founder Chairman observed:
"The practice of uni-professional discipline can be enhanced
by better understanding what other professionals are doing. For example,
a medical practitioner should know what his colleagues in the field
of dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy and so on are doing. If you mix
with people of your own profession, you somehow lack that breadth
of thinking which modern professionals should have.
In a modern society with a lot of technology and social issues, many
of the things that face us today are multi-disciplinary in nature.
For example, housing requires the inter play of the disciplines of
architecture, engineering, town planning, sociology, medicine and
In the old economy a professional is often perceived as a technocrat
practising his discipline in a fairly restrictive environmental setting.
His body of knowledge is largely confined to his discipline and his
social life is also restricted to just members of his friends and
family. In the new economy, however, this professional has to acquire
more appropriate skills to stay employable, to be competitive, to
assimilate knowledge outside his discipline, and to match with the
rest of the global professionals. For example, a professional in the
new economy has to be flexible and be competent in multi-tasking and
Moreover, as Singapore moves into the knowledge-based economy (KBE),
each professional may have to live up to the demand for:
a) a high standard of professionalism,
b) a broad-base of knowledge to handle wider job scope,
c) know-how of dealing with knowledge workers,
d) acceptance of continuous learning and
e) a wider network of establishing contacts in a borderless world
In 2001-2002, SPC will be organising activities toward the Total Professional
Development (TPD) of its members, (Refer to Chart on Total Professional
Development)) which will include Networking, Continuous Learning,
Wellness, Professional Image through Professional Grooming and Etiquette,
Safety Net in economic downturn, as provided for by the Singapore
Professionals and Executive Cooperative (SPEC), Community services
Emphasis will be made on:
>Working towards Accreditation:
Member Associations who are not statutory regulated should consider
working toward accreditation to enhance the quality of professionalism
in their fields and ensure a degree of protection for the professionals
against foreign unqualified foreign and local professionals
>Continuing Education: Re-Launch
of the Continuing Education and Development scheme started in
1987 and to offer executive development programmes and short educational
programmes to assist in the transition to the New Economy.
>Bi-lateral and Multi-lateral
activities: To emphasise networking within the 21 member associations
and to promote the exchange of interdisciplinary expertise and skills
and to promote membership bonding
>The SPC Journal to go electronic
and a re-vamp of the SPC website, to encourage member associations
to advertise their activities and event through the SPC website
>Community Services Projects.
SPC with a membership of 7,000 in the various interdisciplinary professions
is in the best position to educate the community and bring home to
them the message of gearing up for lifelong employability by
updating one's knowledge and skills as the professional has
little choice, if he wants to remain at the top, in face of intense
competition and to stay relevant in the New Economy.
SPC in co-locating with Toa Payoh Central Community Club, will make
itself more easily accessible to the public at large and assist the
Toa Payoh CCC expand its programmes to attract the professionals/executives
in the Toa Payoh area to the CC.
In co-locating with the Toa Payoh Central CC, SPC will:
>offer relevant talks/seminars/workshops
organised, to the residents of Toa Payoh at SPC members' privileges/
in changing the present image of CCs' through interaction with the
constituents of Toa Payoh.
the professionals and executives to participate in community services
>encourage the professionals
and executives to participate in the activities of the CC by organising
relevant seminars, workshops etc, so that the Community Club can remain
the focal point of community life