shayne

Peace Talks – Shayne Phee

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Shayne Phee from Raffles Girls’ School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

It was a really unique experience as I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn and hear from law students themselves and mediators in the workforce! It was enriching to be able to learn the proper and professional way to deal with conflict – something that I’ll not be able to learn in the classroom!

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

My favourite part was during the simulations where we either got to act as totally unreasonable people in conflict or act as the mediators trying to intervene and make peace. For one, it was very fun being as unreasonable and angry as I wanted haha! On a more serious note, at the end of the day it was very fulfilling to have the chance to put what I had learnt to the test. When my friends tried to give me a hard time during the simulations, it was actually fun and enriching to be able to practice handling relationships and conflicts. It really taught me a lot about myself and about resolving conflicts, which can come in handy in life.

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

Sometimes when planning for events, stress overcomes us and that’s when tension starts to build up. Two of my close friends involved in planning for our school carnival had some differences and misunderstandings. This led to them arguing over the words they said that might have hurt each other and the way that things should be run. Using the mediation skills that I had learnt from this conference, I managed to put myself in both their shoes and play the role of the mediator to encourage them to talk it out. They managed to resolve the matter peacefully, and still remain close friends now!

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

My advice to the participants would be to keep an open mind and to not be afraid to ask questions. I remember due to my curiosity, my friends and I kept asking a lot of questions. Some of our questions even stumped the speaker haha! It can be quite awkward at first, but it is only through clarifying your doubts that you can really learn and explore outside the box.

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

xinyu

Peace Talks – Sia Xinyu

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Sia Xinyu from Raffles Girls’ School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

I stepped into Peacemaker’s Conference 2017 expecting to learn nothing more than the basic mediation procedures, but actually stepped out with a whole new bank of knowledge about so much more! It was a fulfilling experience that I am extremely grateful to have been given, and I know the participants of this year’s Conference will enjoy it as much as I did!

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

My favourite part would definitely have to be meeting new people and learning from them. As we were split into different groups, we all had to chance to interact with students from different schools. Listening to my groupmates’ opinions really helped to broaden my horizon as I heard from viewpoints I would have never even thought of. Of course, interactions include making new friends and I’m thankful to have been placed in a really friendly group (shoutout to gwy, jingyi, farzana, emily and hong jun!) right from the beginning ( ´∀` )♡

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

It would have to be between my team members of a project, and what made things complicated was that they were both close friends of mine. The process was not easy at all, and what one of the presenters shared during the Conference last year will always stick with me: “It’s always the hardest mediating for people you care deeply about”. It’s very true, but we also have to remember that a simple “I understand” can go a long way in detangling a conflict.

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

Open your eyes, ears, and most importantly, heart! Don’t be scared of the Conference because there’ll be many helpful and (really) cheerful facilitators around to guide you, so just have fun and learn as much as you can ~ All the best! ( •̀ᄇ• ́)ﻭ✧

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

dawnlok

Peace Talks – Dawn Lok

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Dawn Lok (centre) from Raffles Girls’ School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Peacemakers Conference was really enriching! Apart from it being a good mix of hands-on and theory, what I liked the most about Peacemaker’s Conference 2017 was that whatever was taught was really applicable and useful! I was able to apply the mediation skills when a group seemed to be under a dilemma (I wouldn’t call it a conflict but there were differing views!), and that helped to effectively solve the problem! It also taught me to be more observant to what others say and uncover the message (interests) they are trying to bring across, and help them with it if possible! The Conference was truly a gem!

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

I really enjoyed the mediation “trials” we had! Even though it was nerve-wracking and stressful, but it was where I really learnt to make meaning out of what I’ve learnt in the theory sessions. Being able to get out of my shell and “fight it out” with my peers from other schools was really memorable too!

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

As part of my role in my leadership board, I had to oversee a group for them to plan a training session. Midway through the planning, however, they faced some problems with deciding how the session should be structured. I was originally unsure of how I should tackle this situation, but I remembered what was taught in the Conference! So I got them to lay out their opinions, as well as why they hold them. From there, they were able to see how both opinions could complement each other, and in the end, they managed to integrate both ideas!

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

It would be to truly immerse yourself in the experience, and come with an open heart to learn! Even though it may seem to be a dry and unrelated Conference, trust me it’s not! The skills are really transferable, and you’re a lucky one to be selected/appointed to join this Conference! :))) So pay attention during the theory sessions, understand the concepts, try your best during the mediation trials, learn from your peers, and most importantly, enjoy yourself! Have fun! XD

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

huiyun

Peace Talks – Tan Hui Yun

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Tan Hui Yun from Hougang Secondary School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

I felt that the Peacemakers Conference was one of the most meaningful events I’ve ever experienced as I learnt a lot about mediation! I also managed to make new friends, and even had the opportunity to work with them. I really loved the Conference as I got to enjoy and learn at the same time!

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

I loved the competition rounds because they were really interesting. We got to practice our mediating skills, and also got a chance to role play. The judges even gave us constructive feedback for improvement, making the overall learning experience extremely meaningful.

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

As a leader, discussions are common, and I often face situations where disagreements would lead to conflicts. After the Conference, I became more aware of both parties’ thoughts and facial expressions when dealing with conflicts, and I am also better equipped at resolving such arguments. I learnt that it is important to avoid being subjective and one-sided when facing such situations, and most importantly to always remain calm. I became more confident when solving conflicts between my peers, and also managed to come up with solutions for them.

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

Try to step out of your comfort zone and mix around! As you’ll be grouped with people from different schools, bonding with them will guarantee you a better learning experience.

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

bhoomi

Peace Talks – Bhoomi

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Bhoomi from Chua Chu Kang Secondary School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

It was the first time I attended something like that. To be honest though, I was excited but superrr scared on the first day, especially when I found out that my friends and I were split into different groups. But after we got into our groups, the fun we had was immense. Peacemakers definitely taught me a lot of things every single day. I don’t think the values and skills I learnt here can be taught anywhere else. Every moment of this conference was one the best times I have had.

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

My favourite part was when we went for the competition rounds and our skills were put to the test. I think that was the best type of assessment I have ever had. The acting I got to do when I was playing a party, and the laughter that I had to hold in when I was mediator because the parties were putting up a fantastic show, were AMAZING!

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

There were times where I had to face friends who were in deep conflict because of things that happened in Secondary 1, which they only decided to bring up and fight about in Secondary 4. Since I am good friends with both of them, I knew what I had learnt at the Conference would come in handy then. I was able to stay neutral and hear out both of their views, then I helped them in unfolding each of their situations so that both of them could be able to see each other’s perspectives too. Although they are still not best friends today, I am glad that they now acknowledge one another with a smile when they pass by.

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

To those attending this conference this year: Don’t be nervous, and be enthusiastic in whatever you do. Be open to learning things you never knew existed, and have loads and loads of fun!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

chloe

Peace Talks – Chloe Lee

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Chloe Lee from Raffles Girls’ School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

I absolutely loved it! Ranging from the visits to the courts and NUS law school, and to the interesting lessons and mediation exercises, it was a very enriching experience learning about mediation as a whole. The instructors for each breakout group were really cool too!

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

Definitely the mediating competition and actually practising mediation. It was really fun working with students from other schools, to try our hand at mediation as amateurs, and of course roleplaying as well! 🙂

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

I use what I learnt in the Peacemakers Conference all the time. I don’t panic when I am caught in the middle of an argument now, because I am clearer about what to say and the right time to say it! One example would be at home when my siblings are quarrelling – the resolution often needs someone to help both parties clear the air and talk things out!

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

Have lots of fun, ask lots of questions and don’t be shy! It’s a really rare opportunity to get to experience mediation in such a fun way, so make the most out of it!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

brendancheong

Peace Talks – Brendan Cheong

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Brendan Cheong from Hougang Secondary School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

I felt that the Peacemakers Conference 2017 was very well organised with a suitable amount of time given to both theory and practical sessions.

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

My favourite part of the Conference are the practical sessions where students get to put their mediation knowledge into practice with real-life scenarios given to us. These sessions are very fulfilling as we get to apply what we have learnt, and they also allow us to gain experience handling different people that may be involved in a situation where mediation is required.

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

An example of me applying what I had learnt throughout the 3 days of the Conference would be a conflict that two of my best friends had. Knowing that I was in a difficult position as I could not afford to be bias in any manner, I decided to make use of my new knowledge of mediation to help me in this matter. After going through all the motions, both parties managed to reach a suitable conclusion of apologising to each other and became best friends again ever since.

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

One piece of advice I would give to incoming participants would be to attend each day with an open mind. Although it might be difficult for us to focus at times, the knowledge taught is really worth the effort to stay awake for.

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

jeev edited.jpg

Peace Talks – Jeevasree

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Jeevasree from Commonwealth Secondary School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Peacemakers Conference 2017 was an amazing experience! I was able to meet so many new people and had so much fun while learning many new things that are useful in life. It was an enjoyable experience as well, since we were able to learn through fun activities while making new friends.

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

The competition rounds were my favourite and most memorable part of the Conference. We were given the opportunity to test our mediation skills with our friends from both our schools and different schools in front of guest judges. Given a scenario, we had to either act as mediators and help solve our friends’ problems, or we had to act out as the friends in trouble. Not only were we able to get the experience of how it would feel like as a mediator, but we were also able to get feedback to improve, and also have fun in being an actor!

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

I was able to help many of my friends whenever they had problems by better understanding their problems, and reading their facial expressions and reactions more effectively. I was also able to apply mediation and help them to solve their own problems independently.

For example, there was once when 3 of my friends were involved in a quarrel. It was taking a while for them to solve their problems and talk things through. Thus, I brought them somewhere to talk in private. I mostly sat there quietly and asked questions instead of giving them advice, to help them understand the situation and their own feelings as well as the other party’s feelings better. This helped them to find a solution together, understand each other and the situation better, and learn from their mistakes as well

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

The Peacemakers Conference may seem like a waste of time at first, but always have an open mind and bond with your group to make it a more enjoyable and better experience for you. I think that the lessons learnt are actually useful in life, and many of my friends think so as well!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

Gwen Cheng

Peace Talks – Gwen Cheng

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Gwen Cheng (front row, leftmost) from Commonwealth Secondary School:

 

Q: What made you sign up for Peacemakers Conference 2016?

Peer Support Leaders from Commonwealth are required to attend this conference. Since I am a PSL, I attended the conference. This was the first ever PSL event/activity that I was involved in 🙂

 

Q: How was your Peacemakers experience and what was most memorable about Peacemakers Conference 2016?

Looking back, my Peacemakers Conference was amazing. Although I felt that I could not exactly apply the lessons in school, it did give me a lot of insight about the little things that mattered like body language, word choice etc. Peacemakers Conference is unique as it fills a gap that society has – it makes the participant focus on reason and logic. As the name of the conference suggests, we’re trying to spread peace through communication and make effective use of communication to breed a more tolerant and accepting society.

My most memorable experience will definitely be the tour at the Supreme Court. We learnt a lot about the different courts, procedures, rules and more. It was not exactly applicable but it is incredibly interesting. What’s more, with law students/ mentors (mine was Shen-nen) who are more than willing to share as much info as possible with you, the experience is definitely eye-opening.

 

Q: What advice would you give to participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018?

Three long days will seem boring and exhausting, but surprisingly information gained will always remain. Enjoy yourselves and spam as many questions as you can, because this may be the only time you’ll ever get such strong information on mediation and advice about our growing society. All the best!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

sean

Leaving the Law for Mediation

Our Managing Director, Sean Lim, was recently interviewed by The Law Gazette of Singapore about his decision to enter the mediation industry and to helm Peacemakers. The interview was published in the December 2017 issue of the Law Gazette, and is reproduced in full below.


by Alicia Zhuang

In the March 2017 issue of the Law Gazette, we spoke with lawyers who took the leap early in their careers, leaving life as employees to start their own law firm. In this issue, we chat with a law school graduate who started his career by taking over ownership of a mediation company, Peacemakers Consulting Services.

His name is Sean Lim, and he graduated from National University of Singapore with his law degree in 2015.

Alicia Zhuang (AZ): Sean, when I go to Peacemakers’ website, there are three words in big font: “mediation”, “dispute resolution” and “peace”. Can you tell us more about Peacemakers, and the significance of these words?

Sean Lim (SL): Peacemakers is a private mediation company. We hope to play our part in increasing awareness of mediation as a useful dispute resolution mechanism, and to create a more peaceful society. This is all part of our wider goal to improve social harmony and access to justice. Peacemakers is currently focused on delivering conflict management training courses to corporate clients, customised for their specific industries and corporate cultures. We also offer standardised courses for individual professionals who wish to pick up mediation and dispute resolution skills. Additionally, Peacemakers teaches secondary school students in Singapore how to resolve conflicts amicably at the annual Peacemakers Conference.

Besides our training services, Peacemakers also connects people with quality mediators in our network who are the best fit for your dispute resolution needs. We also have an “Appropriate Dispute Resolution” conference (name subject to change) in the pipeline for 2018, so please keep a lookout for that!

AZ: What is the history behind Peacemakers?

SL: Peacemakers was set up in 2011 with the vision of teaching secondary school students conflict management skills through peer mediation training. We believed that age was no barrier to being an agent of peace, and we wanted to equip and empower youth with the necessary skills for that.

With the assistance of A/Prof Joel Lee, A/Prof Lim Lei Theng, and Mr Aloysius Goh, this vision materialised into an annual not-for-profit event called the Peacemakers Conference, which is still running. We just ran the 8th edition of the Conference earlier in June!

The Conference consists of a mediation training workshop and a friendly competition segment. To date, we have trained about 500 secondary school level students from Singapore and the region. Schools pay a nominal fee of $120 per student for the 3-day Conference (and that is inclusive of us feeding and clothing them!). Interested schools can find out more from our website at http://peacemakers.sg/events/pmc/, or email us at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

Since taking over the helm at Peacemakers, I have been building it up into a training-focused company. While that also means that we are now a commercial entity, my personal commitment is that the Peacemakers Conference will still run every year on a not-for-profit basis.

AZ: How did you become the big boss at Peacemakers?

SL: This is a really long story. It all started with my admittance into NUS Law, which I was encouraged to apply to by my parents despite my personal desire to read Business instead. To date, law school is still one of the most mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging times of my life.

AZ: Okay I’m going to butt in here … this is definitely different from the usual stories. I’m sure everyone has heard of these ones in some form or other: “I studied Law because my family / friends / some respected person [delete as appropriate] thought that I was good at arguing with people and should therefore study law”. Or “because I was in my school’s debating team and represented my school in 1001 competitions”. Or simply, “because my JC results were good enough to get into law school”.

Why did you want to do Business? Why did your parents want you to do Law? And why was law school one of the most challenging times of your life?

SL: I grew up with parents that are both involved in business, so my personal desire to also be a businessman one day was cultivated from there. My parents, however, believed that a career as a lawyer would be more lucrative and comfortable, and a law degree would put me in better stead to do business anyway should I choose not to practice, so they encouraged me to read law instead.

I struggled a lot with my purpose and calling in law school. I was struggling to understand legal concepts, struggling to make legal analyses, and struggling to remain interested in the subject matter – basically I was a terrible law student. What made matters worse however, was that I could not see God’s purpose for sending me to law school. That lack of clarity caused me to constantly question and doubt both God and myself, and that’s not the healthiest of mindsets to work with every single day.

AZ: How did the switch to mediation happen?

SL: In Year 3, I had the privilege of taking the Mediation Workshop under A/Prof Joel Lee and Mr Aloysius Goh. That class, together with the Negotiation Workshop I took earlier that same academic year, provided me some much-needed encouragement and hope to get through that difficult period of my life. Later that same year, I was offered the chance to be a student facilitator at the Peacemakers Conference – an opportunity that I gladly took.

AZ: Why did you find the Mediation and Negotiation Workshops encouraging in comparison?

SL: The workshops provided a welcome reprieve to the rest of the “hard law” modules of law school. Classes were always fun (thanks to A/Prof Joel Lee) – so that helped! I think the thing I am most grateful for is learning the importance of self-mastery, and starting on this lifelong journey towards attaining a higher degree of control over my responses and reactions to any/every conflict situation I face. Beyond the mere equipping of the skills taught, this change of mindset towards conflict helped me to reconcile my own personal convictions with what I was learning in law school, and that was hugely encouraging for me.

AZ: So what happened when you graduated from law school?

SL: I was having great difficulty securing a training contract (“TC”). I think a lot of it could be attributed to my innate lack of interest in legal practice, despite my outward efforts to convince myself and others otherwise. I remember one particular firm’s managing partner, who was also a Christian, asking me at my interview, “Do you think God is trying to tell you something if you haven’t been offered a TC despite all your applications?” My response was that since I hadn’t heard anything from God telling me otherwise, I was just going to keep the faith that God knew what God was doing in sending me to law school, and to take the traditional route that law graduates take in getting called and entering practice. (P.S. I wasn’t offered a TC by that firm either.)

Two weeks before I was scheduled to begin the Part B course, Aloysius texted all the student facilitators from the last Peacemakers Conference to ask if we were interested in a full-time position doing mediation-related work with him at his place of employment. Since I had some flexibility of time during Part B and no TC, I agreed to help.

During the time we worked together, Aloysius and I got along so well both professionally and personally that we became good friends. I became heavily involved in all subsequent editions of the Peacemakers Conferences, and eventually ended up taking over as the Overall-In-Charge.

Subsequently, Aloysius and I left the company that the both of us were at, to pursue other opportunities. Although I explored other opportunities in the mediation industry before I left, nothing seemed to be a good match. At some point, someone (jokingly) suggested that perhaps I should take over Peacemakers from Aloysius and grow it as a private mediation service provider. After both Aloysius and I gave it some thought, it didn’t actually seem like that crazy an idea. So here we are!

AZ: You do sound different when you talk about mediation and negotiation as compared to law-law. What is it about mediation that interests you so much really?

SL: Imagine if you were sick, and went to see a doctor. If the doctor told you about a drug out there with a 70% chance of curing your illness, failing which you could pursue other forms of treatment anyway, would you take a chance on it? If you’re anything like me, you’d say yes.

That’s one of the ways that I view mediation – as a tool that we can use to solve many real world problems. Admittedly, mediation is not a panacea, and there are disputes that are not appropriate for mediation. But for most other disputes, I sincerely believe mediation can help in some way or form, even if the dispute isn’t settled at mediation itself.

What really appeals to me is that mediation is the only process that takes parties’ relationship into account. The mediator endeavours to not worsen the relationship further, and even strives to improve parties’ relationship when the opportunity to presents itself!

The world is already rife with conflict. We all have a role in shaping society’s mindset when a dispute arises. At the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant, if we can move away from a confrontational approach towards something more conciliatory, we would be building a better and more peaceful society for everyone to live in. That is one of the reasons why I believe mediation is the way forward.

AZ: What has running Peacemakers been like? Tell us about the good and bad.

SL: I know this term is overused, but it’s really been a huge challenge.

Despite already having existed for a number of years, Peacemakers is essentially still a start-up. Coupled with the fact that I am running the company alone, and on my own funds – it’s really been quite the struggle. I didn’t really have the personal contacts or professional network to provide Peacemakers with a jumpstart either, so I have had to build almost everything from scratch.

My relative youth compared to my peers in the mediation industry also counts against me. Hence, I have to work harder to make up for these underlying prejudices and prove my competency. (On that note, that is also why I grew a stubble.)

AZ: Hah! Yup, I know what you mean. Many people mistake me for being much younger than I am. Boon in non-legal life. Bane in legal practice. Well … I can’t grow stubble. Some friends joked that I should put powder in my hair for that salt and pepper look. And I know someone who was wearing non-prescription glasses just so that he would come across as older and more serious.

SL: Me too! We work with what we have I suppose.

Other than the age issue, the mediation industry is also not one you’d associate with great potential for revenue generation, so that’s always a challenge for any commercially-minded entity. That said, I am grateful for supportive friends and mentors, without whom I would not even have lasted to this point.

AZ: That’s the same thing I’ve heard from other mediators. With the push for people to explore mediation before going to trial, one might think that the number of mediation cases in Singapore would have skyrocketed, and there would be many more cases for mediators. But what I have been hearing from mediator friends is that actually, mediation cases rarely land on their plate. Why is this so?

SL: I believe there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. In terms of the absolute number of cases, I do believe that it has been increasing steadily. Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) reported a record high of almost 500 cases last year, and I am fairly certain that there are similar increases in various other mediation bodies and schemes, especially those under the courts or other ministries. This is a testament to the amount of work everyone has been putting into growing the mediation industry, and are the fruits of their labour.

That said, I believe that the majority of cases fall under the court system (which include family cases and small claims, etc). Only specific individuals and panels are allowed to mediate those cases under the court system, and most of these schemes have stopped taking volunteer mediators. That leaves the rest of us with a much smaller remainder of cases to mediate. Of these remainder cases, the majority are referred to the established mediators in the country, which leaves an even smaller percentage for the rest of us.

The reality is that there are a couple hundred mediators in the market waiting for the remainder of those cases. With that in mind, you can understand why it is not unusual to hear of recently accredited mediators only receiving a case every 2 years or so. Hopefully, as the industry continues to grow and further efforts are made to professionalise mediation, that the entire ecosystem will scale accordingly, and there will be a decent volume of work for all our professional mediators in Singapore.

AZ: Then how are you finding the money to keep the company running and support yourself?

SL: Hahaha, I’m not! I am running Peacemakers on my savings alone, and there is no safety net or backup plan. Thankfully, I also have no real dependants to support at this time. So, Peacemakers will continue to operate for as long as I have the finances to keep this going … or until my parents decide to kick me out of the house.

AZ: Ouch. Given all these factors, why’d you decide to take over the company? Why not start out by joining an established mediation service provider?

SL: Not being affiliated with any one particular mediation institution has also allowed me to befriend and collaborate with all of them. I have also been enjoying the flexibility associated with being my own boss, especially in terms of how I can choose to spend my time. For instance, I am also the head of the Worship Ministry in my church, and running the ministry takes up a lot of my time and attention – scarce resources which I am less likely able to afford if I had to account to someone other than myself.

Not being in practice has also allowed me to support my friends who are practising lawyers, because that way they do not have to burden a learned friend with their woes, but still obtain some semblance of mental and emotional support from someone who knows a bit of their struggles at work.

AZ: Now that you have finished your law degree, ever thought of studying Business?

SL: I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it! But instead of learning about it in a classroom, now I’m learning from the school of hard knocks. Some might say the lessons taught by the latter are more effective too.

AZ: Do you think you will ever practise law?

SL: In the timeless words of Joe Cocker: Who knows what tomorrow brings? Perhaps one day God will tell me to finally get called to the Bar and to enter practice. For now though, Peacemakers is my priority.

AZ: Where do you see yourself and Peacemakers in 5 years?

SL: This is a question I often get, and one I always have difficulty answering.

My honest response is … I have no idea. I sincerely hope that I will still be involved in the mediation circle, and that I would have established some form of credibility through my work with Peacemakers. By then, hopefully Peacemakers will be established as a reputable private dispute resolution service provider, driving the growth of Singapore’s mediation industry alongside our established mediation institutions.

My dream is also for Peacemakers Conferences to be held not just in Singapore but in our neighbouring countries as well, and that the seeds of peacemaking are sowed in our youth in the hopes of leaving behind a better world for the future.

Simultaneously, I am cognisant of the commercial realities and the real possibility that this venture might not succeed, which may force me to explore something else eventually so that I can feed myself and my family. Perhaps a better time to ask me this question again would be in 3 years, when I can answer you with 2020 vision instead!

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