DPM Heng launches campaign to spur kindness during coronavirus outbreak

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat urged people yesterday to be kinder to one another during the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at the launch of Overcome As One, a campaign organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement, at Our Tampines Hub, he said: “Singaporeans have been responding very well. They have been very caring, responsible and vigilant.

“Kindness, and care and concern for each other should be very much part of our lives. The Covid-19 outbreak is not just a test of our medical response system but is also a test of the character and values of our people. I am confident that we can emerge from this outbreak stronger, united and more resilient as one people.”

The Overcome As One initiative encourages Singaporeans to show appreciation to those fighting to keep the outbreak under control while also being socially responsible and working together to overcome challenges stemming from the virus.

“I am glad that this movement is taking off from the ground up,” said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

He added that people can show their care for one another as well as look into specific actions they can take on their own, whether these involve making hand sanitisers for the community or making videos and cards to show appreciation for front-line workers and volunteers.

This campaign comes after social media reports about healthcare workers taking public transport home while wearing their uniforms being shunned by members of the public.

But many people have also rallied in support of medical workers. Last week, 18,000 Scouts and Girl Guides wrote notes of encouragement that were sent to staff at local hospitals.

Other ground-up movements have emerged to serve some of the most vulnerable segments of Singapore’s population.

Take Contribute.SG, a new organisation that accepts donations of masks and hand sanitisers from the public at seven pickup points across the island.

“We saw that people might have had an excess of masks and bottles of hand sanitiser, and we decided to have a platform for the public to donate items to beneficiaries that really need these items,” said tech entrepreneur Jerry Lim Yishun, who founded the organisation with Mr Jonathan Tan, an administrator.

It redistributes the items to those who are most in need, including housebound patients, taxi drivers and healthcare workers.

It has collected about 250 boxes of face masks and 100 litres of hand sanitiser and distributed them in various locations, including rental flats in the Whampoa area.

“We intend to do this as a permanent campaign and not just as a one-off during this virus outbreak. Through this, we hope to spread love, instead of fear and anger,” said Mr Tan.