OUR founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, brought a nation together at his death, as he did in his lifetime.
It was heartening to see our nation united in grief, regardless of race, language, religion, or political affiliation.
Much was also exceptional in another way. Amid the grief, innumerable acts of kindness bubbled to the surface.
These were picked up and spread by news outlets – stories of individuals and businesses that came to offer mourners refreshment and shade, those who gave generously in flowers, bottled water or their time.
At the Padang, volunteers helped to pick up litter, so that those in the queues might be more comfortable.
The team from the Singapore Kindness Movement was there, and noticed that some of those volunteers were even non-Singaporean – true friends who came to support us in a time of grief.
It is easy to say that exceptional times bring out exceptional kindness, that emotional vulnerability begets emotional generosity.
It is easy to believe that this tremendous loss helped bring out a united, kind, gracious, patient and helpful people, accepting of differences, and respectful.
But what if kindness is, in fact, inherent in our humanity? What if these individual acts of generosity and graciousness from two weeks ago that seemed so exceptional were, in fact, simple acts of everyday kindness, made exceptional by virtue of the circumstances in which they were performed?
I say this not to put down the efforts of the many volunteers, or the many instances of generosity that have been inspired by the tragedy of loss.
On the contrary, my heart is gladdened to see so much selflessness being demonstrated.
Kindness does not discriminate between occasions. Kindness simply is. And we should simply celebrate it whenever manifested.
What this outpouring of kindness proves is that Singaporeans are not an emotionless people, an unhappy people, or an unkind people.
We did not suddenly become kind because of the extraordinary situation a fortnight ago. Kindness must have been a part of our nature, for us to express it so easily and spontaneously.
Kindness is in us. There is no reason to be any less of a Nation of Kindness in ordinary times.
Koh Poh Tiong
Singapore Kindness Movement
Apr 7, 2015, ST Forum
MY MOTHER is 92 and was in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) for about four months.
Her bill amounted to $13,000, which was covered by Medisave. She then underwent therapy at Ren Ci Hospital, which has arranged for homecare services now that my mother has returned home.
I have received a motorised hospital bed with an air mattress and a wheelchair cushion, all for just $149, as 90 per cent of the cost was subsidised by the Government.
We Singaporeans, myself included, complain a lot but we should also be ready to say thank you for good service.
So, I thank the doctors, nurses and attendants in TTSH and Ren Ci Hospital.
I also thank the health minister for putting in place schemes to assist senior citizens in returning to the comfort of their homes to spend their remaining years.
Apr 3, 2015, ST Forum
I AGREE that it will take a long time, if ever, for Singaporeans to clean up after themselves and throw away litter properly (“PM reacts to meadow of trash that music fans left behind” and “Singapore becoming a ‘garbage city’, says ESM Goh Chok Tong“; ST Online, both published last Thursday).
Singaporeans have this “maid mentality”, thinking that there are paid workers whose job is to pick up the rubbish left by them. Singaporeans’ cleaning-up stops at their homes and doorsteps.
This is a very unhealthy and irresponsible mindset. Everyone is responsible for picking up after themselves, wherever they are, whether there are rubbish bins or not.
It is a personal responsibility, as well as a form of respect for yourself and for your country. Leaving your rubbish to be picked up reflects a lazy, selfish and irresponsible mindset and character.
We should follow the good example of the Japanese, who not only bin their litter properly, but also carry the litter in their bag till they find a bin. They also wipe the table after eating and return trays to the store’s kitchen counter.
There is a very ugly trend today – people intentionally placing empty cans and bottles on top of railings and pavements in public areas. These people seem to think this act is funny or fun. On the contrary, it is selfish, irresponsible and childish.
Parents play a big part as role models in teaching their children to dispose of litter responsibly from a young age. Schools must also teach and remind students to clear their own litter responsibly.
Only with each individual’s act of personal responsibility can we think of having a cleaner city.
Tan Lin Neo (Miss)
Feb 3, 2015, ST Forum