RSIS Day 2020: Keeping the Spirits Up During COVID-19
By Scott Lai
RSIS celebrated its 24th anniversary on 30 July 2020 with its first ever virtual RSIS Day, commemorating the founding of its predecessor, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, in 1996 by the late Mr S R Nathan.
Amb Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, delivered his welcome remarks, encouraging both staff and students to continue keeping in touch during the global pandemic as they worked from home. The Dean, Prof Ralf Emmers, welcomed the new cohort of postgraduate students, and appealed to everyone to help each other through the unprecedented situation.
Amb Ong signalled the start of the online celebration by striking a Cambodian “singing bowl”, following which the RSIS Long Service Award (10 Years) was awarded to four staff members: Dr Pradumna B. Rana, Dr Benjamin Ho, Ms Faridah Saroni, and Mr Scott Lai.
As this was also intended to be a fun-filled event to bring the RSIS family and students together, the hosts entertained the online audience with several quizzes where prizes were awarded to those with the quickest minds and fastest fingers.
There was a special performance by Dr Adam Garfinkle who sang a parody using a song by Bob Dylan. He sang lightheartedly about why we “ain’t going nowhere” during the ongoing stay-home restrictions imposed by the authorities because of COVID-19.
The highlight of the celebration was the RSIS Talent Show. The winning performances, submitted by participants on video, were judged beforehand by a panel comprising Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony, Dr Pascal Vennesson, and Dr Karen Pitakdumrongkit, and were played to the audience watching at home. The top prize was awarded to Ms Margareth Sembiring for her touching rendition of the Indonesian song Bukti. The second to fifth prizes were awarded to Dr Gong Xue; a team comprising Mr Joshua Ng, Mr Kenneth Yeo, Mr Choo Ruizhi, and Ms Amalina Abdul Nasir; Dr Li Mingjiang; and Dr Bernard Loo respectively. A consolation prize went to Mr Pei Haozheng, a student in the MSc (International Political Economy) Programme.
Conducted on Microsoft Teams Live Event, the virtual anniversary celebration was attended by about 180 staff members and students.