Home › Who We Are › Founder Michael Tay
Founder Michael Tay
FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS AND SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
Michael Tay has always had a passion for music. As Singapore’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2002 to 2008, Tay almost singlehandedly changed the nature of Singapore-Russia diplomatic ties when he commissioned – as a private sector initiative – renowned Russian composer Vladimir Martynov, to compose a symphony about Singapore. The finished piece was SINGAPORE: A Geopolitical Utopia, which will be an enduring testament to the collaboration between a musical civilisation and a young nation. This demonstration of the value of soft power and non-traditional diplomacy reinforced Tay’s long-held belief that the real agents of change in regional and global processes are people and ideas. Consistently involved in the arts scene throughout his diplomatic and business career, Tay formed The Foundation to develop and promote private arts projects that both position Singapore globally as an artistic hub and provide a platform for emerging Singaporean artistes.
Tay’s past and present commitment to social projects is manifold. In 2006, he was awarded the Singapore Public Administration Medal (Silver) and bestowed with the honor of ‘Patron of Art of the Century’ by the International Welfare Fund of Russia. Five years later, he was the first Singaporean to be awarded the Pushkin Medal by the President of the Russian Federation for his significant contribution to the humanitarian and cultural ties between Russia and Singapore.
In 2009, Tay served as the seventeenth Executive Director for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the regional organization based in Singapore. His main priority was to keep APEC focused on the path of free trade, resisting protectionism while accelerating economic integration of the Asia-Pacific, and improving links with the business community. His unique strengths and extensive experience in mobilizing business linkages, in forging new ways of building diplomatic ties, and in strategic foreign policy thinking enabled him to successfully lead the organization during one of the most challenging periods in APEC’s 20-year history: the global recession.
During his term as Singapore’s Ambassador to Russia, he also initiated the Russia-Singapore Business Forum (RSBF), which became the only international business-to-business platform engaging Russian/CIS companies. As the Executive Director of the RSBF, Tay was instrumental in contributing to the success of the forum, transforming the RSBF from a purely bilateral forum into a global platform involving businesses from more than 40 countries, more than 1000 business participants and focusing on emerging and frontier markets.
Tay was also the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Emerging Markets, a joint initiative between the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow and Singapore Management University. The Center acted as a business think tank to provide intellectual ballast for the RSBF as well as for companies looking at new markets.
From 1999 to 2002, Tay served as the Director-General of ASEAN-Singapore, placing him at the center of the ASEAN policy-implementation and budgetary management. During Singapore’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 1998-1999, he led the taskforce that organized the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and the Summit.
Tay’s other regional postings include service with the Singapore Embassies in Tokyo and Seoul. In Seoul, his first overseas posting, he was tasked with establishing the first Singapore Embassy in Korea as the Chargé d’Affaires.
And today, he combines his experience and passion together to develop and promote the arts an socially-oriented programmes in Singapore.