Four Conversations

The National Library presented Four Conversations, an annual signature programme by the National Library where thought leaders share new possibilities for the future, inspiring lifelong learning and creation of new knowledge. This year, we brought together four drivers of change who have charted new paths through innovation and made a difference in their own lives, as well as the lives of others over a weekend on 15 and 16 September.

We listened to John Wood, the man who brought the gift of education to millions of children; Lai Chang Wen, a young entrepreneur helming a regional logistics business; Kuik Shiao-Yin, a social entrepreneur on a mission to build up our social and emotional capital; and Dr. Tan Lai Yong, who worked with vulnerable and “hidden” communities and brought about greater good.


This event was organised by the National Library, in conjunction with the National Reading Movement.

The National Reading Movement is a five-year initiative by the National Library Board (NLB) to promote reading in Singapore. It aims to encourage all to Read More by setting aside some time to read regularly, Read Widely by going beyond the usual genres and reading in mother tongue languages, and to Read Together with family and friends. Be part of the movement on Facebook.



John Wood is the founder of Room to Read, an organisation focused on transforming lives through literacy and gender equality in education. Room to Read has opened over 20,000 libraries serving 12.4 million children across 15 low-income countries. John has four honorary PhDs, is an avid runner and lives in Hong Kong.

A graduate of Singapore Management University, Lai Cheng Wen was formerly a derivatives trader before he set up men’s fashion retailer, Marcella. His experience in retail made him realise that there had to be a better way to deliver and track packages, which ultimately led to the creation of Ninja Van.

Innovator, social entrepreneur and nominated member of parliament, Kuik Shiao-Yin is also the co-founder of The Thought Collective, a group of purpose-driven businesses with a mission to build up social and emotional capital in communities through collaborating with different stakeholders.

Working with vulnerable communities for more than 15 years, Dr Tan Lai Yong has become known as the Wandering Saint of Singapore and “barefoot doctor” in rural China. He has written several books on his experiences.


(Updated 25 Sep 2018)