17 December 2020


Dear Members,

What a year 2020 has been.  A year of immense loss, devastation and tragedy.  Yet, it has also been a time for the world to display collective resilience and solidarity.  A time to pause and reflect on whether a return to “normal” is a good thing.  It is with a collective sigh of relief that the world received the good news of the various vaccine options.  And we can all be grateful that Singapore has been able to secure sufficient doses to vaccinate all residents within 2021.  Nevertheless,  the whole world needs to be vigilant in working towards getting well together.  And wellness goes beyond merely addressing Covid-19.

A “vaccination” has yet to be developed for another contagion that has ravaged our world – disinformation.   Disinformation has gone viral at such an alarming rate that it continues to breed distrust in traditional news media, and gives false credence to conspiracy theorists.  Why should this concern those of us in the arbitration world?  It must because ultimately our chosen calling demands us to be interested in truth and justice.  We must stand guard against the risk of cases being pleaded using “alternative facts” bereft of particulars or evidence.  We must uphold ethical standards that disallow us from trying to pass off fiction as fact before tribunals.  We must always remember that even though we may be on opposite sides as counsel, we ultimately have a common objective – to assist the tribunal in ascertaining the truth for the sake of justice.  

Singapore has the immense privilege in May 2021 to host the World Economic Forum (WEF) Special Annual Meeting.  This is only the second time (the other being New York in 2002) that the WEF is held outside Davos, Switzerland.  It will be the first time the WEF is held in the Asia-Pacific.  The WEF will bring together the world’s top leaders in government, business and academia to address the pressing issues facing us today.  Why is this relevant to arbitration?  I believe the same factors that I highlighted in June 2018 President’s message that contributed to Singapore being chosen for the historic Trump-Kim summit were relevant to Singapore hosting the May 2021 WEF.  And these are core Singapore brand values that have shaped Singapore into being a leading global seat for International Arbitration – neutrality, safety, reliability, integrity, efficiency, excellence and openness.  Despite the challenges of 2020, SIArb remained committed to these core values as we adapted to online seminars and training programs.  We also launched a new lecture series, ‘Global Perspectives – Beyond Arbitration”, and were honoured to have Professor Tommy Koh deliver a lecture on the United Nations.  For those of you who may have missed out, we are looking into making the session available on our website soon. 

It remains for me to congratulate our Council members and committee chairs for all the excellent work they have done.  One thing we all missed was our Annual Dinner.  Hopefully we will be able to gather together in 2021 to celebrate our 40th anniversary.  I wish all members a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!  Let us put our best foot forward as the world attempts to recalibrate and reboot in 2021.

Dinesh Dhillon
SIArb 2017-2021

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