Temasek Foundation (TF) has grown over the last 12 years, supporting a spread of programmes by six entities across multiple domains. The diversity of our work in these individual domains by the staff and boards of these entities has been significant and positively received by our beneficiaries, participants and partners.

The more than $84 million committed funding for initiatives in the past year alone were drawn from philanthropic endowments gifted by Temasek. It enabled the implementation of 156 programmes, inspiring and impacting more than 32,000 beneficiaries, participants and partners in Singapore, regionally and globally.

We can be justly proud of the work done by our people today, but we must also always keep an eye on the future. We plant trees knowing that we may not benefit from their shade in our time, but that the generations after us will.

We can be justly proud of the work done by our people today, but we must also always keep an eye on the future. We plant trees knowing that we may not benefit from their shade in our time, but that the generations after us will.

Mr Benny Lim

This spirit applies as much to our own organisation as it does to the needs of the people our programmes serve; ultimately in such a relationship, the futures of both are twined.

The future of our society and indeed the world will be a reality that is becoming more complex and diverse. As an organisation, we need to take stock, evolve and grow, all the more when we are doing well and are perhaps ahead of the curve of time.

Navigating complexity will require awareness, adaptiveness and resilience. One of the internal challenges that we have within this current framework is that opportunities for synergistic collaboration across domains are sometimes missed because they are not so visible at the domain level, often falling outside explicit charters and endowment mandates.

Following months of study and review, a significant decision taken last year was to form Temasek Foundation Ltd. (TF Ltd.), that is broadly composed of all the present six entities, which will continue to exercise decision autonomy over their respective domain programmes.

TF Ltd. as a new entity, has a Board comprising all of the current Chairmen of the six entities as well as a few of its very experienced members. Such an arrangement affords a strategic and shared overview of the work in all the domains at the leadership and management levels.

It provides a strategic and dynamic central awareness, enabling us to systematically identify and make visible any overlaps and deficits in our present programme coverage. This surfaces opportunities for synergistic collaboration or for adaptive programme development to address emergent or hitherto “invisible” needs.

We are mindful that as we move forward with this significant organisational change, we must not lose all that we have achieved from the past and in the present.

A unified centralised structure has advantages of a strategic overview and central awareness, as well as material scope and scale for staff career development. However, it must avoid the risk of a centre-periphery disconnect that homogenises away the strength of diversity.

The strength of diversity reflected in differentiated expertise and experience is invaluable. However, the value of diversity in any collective or society is positive only if the different energies are harnessed and do not pull away, breach and fragment overall cohesion. Balance and a commitment to shared values remain key to navigating this sensibly.

As we make this journey of change — one that will take some years and no doubt with adjustments along the way — I am very grateful for the wisdom, advice and support of so many. I think we should also be grateful for the good work done over the years by the leaders and staff of the various entities in shaping a culture that TF can be proud of.

We saw in our response to the urgent contingencies arising from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a deep and wide Temasek family responding as one, leveraging on each other’s strengths and shoring up each other’s efforts collaboratively - doing and achieving in the end much more than what each could have done on their own.

Read: How we are supporting communities during COVID-19.

If there is one silver lining arising from the pandemic for TF, it would be the way it has powerfully galvanised and yoked our community together, often discovering in the face of adversity, a stamina and creative adaptiveness we were perhaps not so fully aware we had in normal times.

This year’s Annual Report theme is Invisible. I hope that as you peruse the report, you will find many things that make the invisible visible in what we do and what we aspire to do at Temasek Foundation.