Mr Warren Fernandez,
Editor in Chief of Singapore Press Holding’s English, Malay and Tamil Media Group
and Editor of The Straits Times,
Ms Wong Hong Suen,
Deputy Director, Curatorial & Programmes, National Museum of Singapore,
Ms Yi Wen Hsia,
Exhibitions Manager and Curator, World Press Photo.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. This festival promises to be a visual treat for all who come to see it, because it is an opportunity for us to not just understand the craft of photography, but to appreciate the art of photography, and its power as a medium to tell stories.
2 Whether it is the awesome power of nature, the pain of poverty and privation, the jubilation of victory and war, and also the agony and ecstasy we see in sporting events and other scenarios, photographs have a provocative way of capturing these moments in a manner that is evocative, and leave these moments deeply inscribed in our memories. When we look back on important moments in history, and even in our lives, very often it is the images that evoke the response.
3 With technology and the technological disruption that we are seeing today changing the way we receive and consume news, and the way news and media organisations are dealing with it - it is now a fact of life, and all of us are adapting to what some call the digital revolution.
4 Even as we adjust and adapt to this transition, some things remain the same. I believe that the power of a well-told story, and the impact of an image that captures the essence of the moment, remain undiminished.
5 I do not think it is accidental that we all have the ubiquitous phone in our pocket, but perhaps one of the most important and fast-evolving components of a phone – other than its processing power – is the number of lenses that it carries. It is consumer oriented and part of product development, but I think it speaks to something deeper. That all of us, we do want to capture the moment, whether it is by sound, or by image, and I think in all of these instances, the kind of photos we see today are going to be the best of that effort.
6 I want to say thank you to SPH and Straits Times for putting together this event and hosting the World Press Photo exhibition, because it is a useful opportunity to see these stories as they are told through the lens of people from around the world, and at the same time appreciate the best of the craft.
7 At the same time, I am also very happy that we are showing the work, including videos, done by our own photojournalists in Singapore. This is important because this year we are commemorating the Bicentennial of Singapore which marks two hundred years since Sir Stamford Raffles came to Singapore. I was in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, and I saw the Anglo-Dutch Treaty - the original document signed by four people, two representing the British East India Company and two representing the Dutch East India Company. There is an Article 12 in the Treaty, which talks about the line dividing up the territories. Such is the capricious nature of history that we fell on the side of the British, and here we are today.
8 This sort of historical documentation – and today photographs are a key part of it – is going to be essential for us. In this bicentennial year for Singapore, we have made tremendous efforts to capture those moments of Singapore’s history, not just in the last two hundred years, but also going beyond, because the history of Singapore goes back many centuries before 1819.
9 It is quite appropriate because next year is Straits Times’ 175th anniversary, and I think in preparation for that, coming together with these images and capturing the story of Singapore and the story of the Straits Times, which are deeply intertwined, is going to be an important part of what we leave behind as a legacy for future generations of Singaporeans.
10 So I want to conclude by saying that I am absolutely delighted that we are having an event like this here in Singapore. I also want to make a point that the exhibition’s theme, “Through the Lens”, is absolutely appropriate because it is about the lens of the camera, the eye of the photographer, and it is about the perspective of our society and the zeitgeist of our times. I think it is very fitting that we have this opportunity. I want to congratulate all those who have been involved in putting this together, and I am looking forward to seeing the photographs.
11 Thank you for inviting me.