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SINGAPORE'S shipping veteran Patrick Phoon has been conferred the International Maritime Centre Award in the individual category this year. Having been in the shipping industry for more than four decades, Mr Phoon is now deputy managing director of Evergreen Shipping Agency (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
While many in the shipping world in the country believe that he has been instrumental in elevating the prominence of Maritime Singapore, Mr Phoon is quite modest about his lifelong achievements as he is known to be a firm believer in team work and shared success.
"First of all, to say that I have been instrumental in elevating the prominence of Maritime Singapore is not correct. The prominence of Maritime Singapore is a collective effort by all parties involved, from MOT (Ministry of Transport) and MPA to members of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA). It is through the efforts of many people who shared the vision for the common good of Singapore.
"Ranging from the ability to express our thoughts and taking actions for the common good of all, to succeed, we need everyone's participation," he adds.
Mr Phoon has been with the Singapore Shipping Association for 24 years. During this time he says that he has been privileged to be involved in many developments, such as the changing of the profile of the shipping association from a domestic-centric organisation to that of a global association which is respected the world over.
During his presidency of the SSA from 2011 to 2015, he was also instrumental in ensuring that the association stayed relevant with the times as he promoted a generation of fresh ideas through constant renewal in leadership. Since then, SSA's presidency tenure has been limited to a maximum of three consecutive terms.
It was important to him that SSA continually improves and functions effectively for the needs of the industry, as he says: "We have to evolve with the seasons with new directions, aspirations and ideas."
Mr Phoon has also been involved with MPA from the bunkering procedures to the current form of using MFM (mass flow meter). He also helped with producing the ISO standards.
"Another milestone that I'm very proud of was having been given an opportunity to lead my fellow council members in the purchasing of the permanent home of the Singapore Shipping Association in Tras Street."
Mr Phoon's contributions to the shipping industry have been varied - from maritime insurance to maritime finance to manpower planning.
"Again my contributions can be attributed to my fellow council members who shared my vision and passion. It has not been an easy journey but nonetheless it's a very exciting one. Where we achieved our goals, one can safely say that I 'm merely a facilitator of ideas and my fellow council members supported me to achieve the goals," says Mr Phoon.
He has, through his company Evergreen Shipping Agency, contributed to the development of Singapore as an International Maritime Centre over the years.
"Evergreen has been committed to Singapore since the late 1970s. Some of the ideas that I've contributed to Maritime Singapore are from the best practices that we adopted in Evergreen. I have also applied to my offices some of the best practices from my members. Therefore, it is safe to say that contributions are a two-way traffic."
Looking ahead, Mr Phoon says that the younger generation of maritime professionals today are better trained and have access to a world of information. "My advice to them is to never be afraid to ask questions, learn from your seniors and adopt the best practices available. Have integrity and passion in what you do and enjoy the journey."
Asked how he felt on being conferred the International Maritime Centre Award in the Individual category, Mr Phoon said he was delighted, privileged and humbled.
"Delighted - a great honour indeed and very, very surprised.
"Privileged because I've been recognised for my work for Maritime Singapore and given this highest recognition by MPA whom I've worked very closely with all these years.
"Humbled because my achievements could only have happened with the support of my partners in Evergreen, my fellow council members in SSA, the great team at MPA and my family. Without their support, I would not have fulfilled my goals."