Monday, 4 January 2021
My fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors, my wife Nica and I wish each of you a New Year filled with happiness, good health, and peace!
It has been my honour to serve as your District Governor for the last 6 months and I would like to take this moment to share some happenings in our District.
2020 has undoubtedly been emotionally testing, turbulent and a challenging year for all of us. The situation has been very fluid on the ground with regards to information, government restrictions and lockdowns. The District and Clubs had to curtail many of their projects and meeting plans to comply with strict social distancing and safety protocols. As your District Governor, I apologise that I have been unable to travel and conduct in-person meetings. The Rotary Year 2020-21 started with fully online trainings for the first time ever. I must say a big thank you to the District Training Team headed by PDG Andre Suharto, who tirelessly and continuously plan and execute innovative trainings to keep the Rotarians informed and engaged.
I am also indebted to my District Secretary Dennis Carroll, all Assistant Governors, Club Presidents and Secretaries who have been instrumental in organising my virtual official Club visits and submitting the required checklist documents and data. To date, I successfully completed virtual or hybrid visits to 61 clubs and in person visits to 4 clubs in Singapore. I am looking forward to physically visiting as many Clubs once travel restrictions are lifted.
It gives me great pride to report that many Clubs have been creative and resourceful in carrying out projects despite being restricted in their activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, they have been actively involved in providing support to the community, either through the provision of PPE including masks and gloves, basic groceries, help with employment and cash benefits. Some Clubs have also provided hospitals with medical equipment such as ventilators and dialysis machines etc.
District Community Service Chair PP Khushroo reported that 45 clubs in the District participated in the COVID-19 Response Strategy, undertaking a total of 38 projects, with a total value of RM863,000 (USD 208,000). 7,800 families were provided with food aid. Another 14000 PPE and 88,000 masks and shields were also distributed.
One of the District’s initiative was to form the Sabah Covid-19 response Task Force on 27 October upon report of the high daily incidence of 927 Covid-19 cases in Sabah just the day before. The task force chair Past President KP Lu and his members acted swiftly inviting all 13 clubs in Sabah to participate in the one to one matching grant capped at RM5,000 for each club. So far, RM50,000 has been dispersed from the total pool of RM137,000. The District provided RM30,000 from its General Disaster Relief Fund, whilst the balance RM107,000 came from four generous individual donors and Rotary Club of Singapore.
There were also other relief efforts from clubs such as Rotary Club of Batu Pahat in collaboration with Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu Pearl to provide a container load medical supplies for the front-liners in Sabah. My heartfelt thanks to all the clubs and individuals who came forward to help during this pandemic period.
Some of these projects were carried out with successful Covid Response Global Grant applications. Clubs such as Rotary Club of Singapore and Rotary Club of Sentosa to name a few in carrying out meaningful and impactful International projects which meant to create lasting changes. I would like to urge Clubs to utilise the Global Grants to fund your projects to give them a bigger impact.
This year alone we have allocated close to US$320,000 (including RY2019-20 disbursement) in District Designated Funds or DDF to the clubs in our District for community and international projects.
I also like to report with pride that our End Polio Now initiative has reached US$80,347. Credit to District PolioPlus Subcommittee Chair DGN Joanne Kam and her team for carrying out the successful Step Up to End Polio charity drive. There is another round of fund raising for End Polio Now very soon. I am proud of our Rotarians who have continued to generously give to the TRF even during these uncertain and testing times. The children who will be benefitting from your contributions will be grateful to you. Our Annual Fund giving is currently at US$84,010 and other funds at US$72,114. We have to continue to work on the Annual Fund and Endowment Fund giving in the next 6 months.
I must thank the District Foundation Chair PP Dr. Shahul Hameed and his team for their excellent promotion and trainings about the workings of the Rotary Foundation. I hope you will support the TRF and make it your choice of charity so more humanitarian projects can be undertaken. I also wish to report that RC Muar will be the first Club this year in our District to achieve 100% PHF Club recognition and I hope many will follow suit soon.
Despite the difficult year, many clubs have admitted 155 new members and our membership has seen a net increase of 63 members. We now have 2137 members as of 31 December 2020 in our District. This is a 3.0% increase from 1 July 2020 and above the 2% District goal set. However, we have also lost 92 members this year and our retention rate stands at 96%. There may be more termination as Rotary International is in the process of updating the 1 January figure. Let us continue to engage and retain our existing members as we continue to admit new members in the next six months. Thank You to the District Membership Team lead by PP Saravanan Krishnan. The New Club Development Committee led by PP Simon Sim is continuing its effort to set up new clubs, but the continued movement controls and circuit breakers are posing challenges.
I would like to thank our District Public Image Committee Chair PP Elsie and her team for their efforts in enhancing Rotary public image efforts. Many clubs are getting the hang of creating the correct Rotary and club logos. I am also happy to mention that the concluded District People of Action Poster competition saw 17 entries and 3 clubs, Rotary Club of Kuching Central, Rotary Club Marina City and Rotary Club of Tanjong Pagar winning the 3 prizes of RM1,000 each. There may be only 3 prize winners for now, but I would like to congratulate all the other 14 clubs as they have helped to create awareness of Rotary Public Image.
Being a strong supporter of Vocational Service, I am pleased to report that the District Vocational Service committee chaired by CP Tengku Indra is taking efforts to re-energize the thrust that Vocational Service is the bedrock of Rotary. The Committee has completed 2 successful District Vocational Dialogues covering Water and Basic Education and Literacy in September and December. On 9 January, the annual Vocational Insights and Perspectives (V.I.P) forum will be launched. I would like to commend these efforts.
Rotaractors are now elevated to membership in Rotary International on 1 July 2020. The District Elevate Task Force chaired by PDG Henry has been working very hard with the team comprising Rotarians and Rotaractors to understand the new policies and draft an action plan for Rotary and Rotaract clubs to implement. The action plan has been completed but the process to disseminate the plan to all Rotary and Rotaract Clubs is underway. I acknowledge there are still some confusions to this new policy and seek your indulgence and patience to give some time to the District Joint Rotaract Committee Co-chairs Rtn Picasso and DRR Chew Tai Wen to disseminate the policies to the respective clubs.
My heartfelt gratitude to all District and Club officers who have been working behind the scenes in keeping our Clubs and District vibrant. I wish I can name all of you for your good work. I shall cover in my future written report as it is not possible at this time.
Let us continue to learn, improve, and do our best as Rotarians, push the envelope, help bring in more like-minded individuals into our District, help our Clubs grow and be more diversified and vibrant.
There have been many learnings we got from the year – from safeguarding our health, being supportive of each other to spreading kindness and now, it’s time to make some wishes anew and resolutions even stronger. May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements, and many new inspirations to your life. Wishing you and your family a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Yours in Rotary,
District Governor 2020-2021