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Banker and boxer receive Berita Harian awards

Boxer Muhamad Ridhwan (left) received the Berita Harian Young Achiever of the Year award. Bank of Singapore CEO Bahren Shaari received the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award.


GROWING up in Kampung Tanjong Irau, a village in the Sembawang area, Bahren Shaari had to walk or cycle five kilometres every day to the bus stop to get to Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.

The grind of daily travel did not take a toll on his studies. He made it to Hwa Chong Junior College and later received a bursary to study accountancy at the National University of Singapore.

As a young auditor looking to go into private banking, Mr Shaari sent out about 100 applications before he finally got a job at American Express Bank.

The 56-year-old is currently the chief executive of Bank of Singapore, but he remembers all too well what it was like as a rookie.

"I didn't have someone I could go to for career guidance. Many jobs and opportunities come from networking and I didn't have that either."

Now, whenever Mr Shaari receives a CV submission, he forwards it promptly to the human resource department or tries to refer the candidate to more suitable employers.

In the past 30 years, he has taken up various key positions, including managing director at UBS Wealth Management and board member of the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore.

He has been a non-executive and independent director of Singapore Press Holdings since April 2012 and is also executive committee member of the Private Banking Industry Group.

Mr Shaari, who is married with three children, is also actively involved in Club Heal, a voluntary welfare organisation that helps people with mental illness and their families.

On Wednesday night (Oct 31), he received the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for his professional achievements and contributions to the community.

Berita Harian editor Saat Abdul Rahman said Mr Shaari is "an inspiring model who rose from humble beginnings to achieve what he has today".

President Halimah Yacob was a recipient of this award in 2001, when she was the assistant secretary-general of NTUC.

At the ceremony on Wednesday night, professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan received the Berita Harian Young Achiever of the Year award for his sport accomplishments and his service to the community.

Mr Ridhwan, 30, has three South-east Asia Games bronze medals under his belt and frequently gives talks in schools and prisons.

His gym, Legends Fight Sport, also provides free membership and classes to underprivileged youths. Some of them are even coached personally by him.

Suhaimi Rafdi, director of Our Tampines Hub and one of the judges of the award, said: "Ridhwan depicts tenacity, resilience and perseverance. These are the elements youths must have to achieve their dreams."

Mr Ridhwan, who made his professional debut in 2016, has won 11 fights so far.

In September this year, he lost an International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super bantamweight (up to 55kg) world title to Namibia's Paulus Ambunda.

The fight was a chance for him to put his name in the record books alongside Manny Pacquaio, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Lennox Lewis, all former IBO world champions.

While he admitted he was disappointed with the loss, he was determined to win his next fights.

Said Mr Ridhwan: "The best way to inspire others is to win my fights... I don't fight just for myself, but also my family and for Singapore. I'm sick and tired of people saying Singaporean (boxers) cannot make it.

"If you love something, you should put 100 per cent into it."

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