Back to top

Speech by Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran, at the National Kindness Award (Transport Gold & Caring Commuter) 2021 Ceremony

01 Dec 2021 Speeches

Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement

Mr Richard Magnus, Chairman of the Public Transport Council

Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive of Land Transport Authority

Friends, colleagues, from the various transport communities and agencies, and also from the Singapore Kindness Movement

1.     A very good morning to all of you. As we all know, the past year has been especially trying. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested, and continues to test, our resilience and resolve. In the face of this adversity, our transport workers have risen to the occasion. Our rail workers have kept our trains running at high levels of reliability. They have also enhanced the cleaning and disinfecting of trains to ensure the safety of our commuters.  So too, our taxi and private hire car drivers. 

2.     In August/September this year, bus operations were affected by the spread of COVID-19. Our bus workforce sustained services with minimal disruptions, while complying with stricter measures. We are deeply appreciative of the sacrifices and efforts of all our transport workers, which they have done over the course of this fight against COVID-19, and in order to ensure the safety of commuters and fellow transport staff.  Your commitment and grit have kept Singapore moving. 

Building a Culture of Kindness

3.     I feel especially privileged to join all of you at this year’s National Kindness Awards ceremony. It is always an important event, but perhaps this year it takes on added meaning and significance. It is also apt that this ceremony is being held in conjunction with this year’s Caring Commuter Week. Last Saturday, we also launched the Caring Commuters Report.  The Report sets out a valuable set of caring norms for commuters. The four norms being to Give Time, Give Care, Give a Hand and to Give Thanks.  

4.     Beyond showing care and kindness to fellow commuters, these norms also advocate receiving acts of kindness graciously. In other words, we give, but we also receive the graciousness. We want to encourage kind deeds and build a culture of kindness. The Caring SG Commuters Committee will build on efforts to inform, involve and inspire our community so that our public transport experience is a more caring and gracious one. 

5.     Campaigns and committees are necessary, but they are not sufficient.  Ultimately, it is up to individuals like you and me.  As our acts of kindness become pervasive, our society will become ever more gracious. Emerging stronger from this pandemic is not just about our economic resilience; it is also about the character and fortitude of our society.  For that, it is key that we nurture the kindness and compassion that is within all of us to support our fellow citizens. 

Transport Gold Awards

6.     I am happy that this spirit has prevailed throughout the pandemic, as evident in the acts of kindness in the transport sector. As you have heard, this year, we are awarding 568 Transport Gold awards – the highest in its 22-year history. And I want to share some inspiring stories.

7.     There is Mr Ong Swee Ker, a taxi driver with ComfortDelGro. Despite the pandemic affecting ridership and earnings, Mr Ong stocked up on masks in his taxi, for passengers who might need one.  In May, upon learning that a passenger would be celebrating Hari Raya Puasa with his family and friends, he presented the passenger with a gift of a box of 50 masks.  The passenger was deeply touched by his kind and generous gesture.  

8.     Then, there is Zuraidah Binte Ghani, a cashier from ComfortDelGro Engineering.  A taxi driver was refuelling his taxi when it suddenly began to roll backwards. He called for help.  With fast reflexes and quick-thinking, Zuraidah opened the taxi door and engaged the handbrake. Her instinct to help without hesitation, not only saved the taxi driver from potential injury, but also prevented the vehicle from hurting others and damaging property.

9.     Another story is that of Parameswari Silakumaran, a customer service officer from TransitLink. One day when she was on duty, a commuter, Ms Cheng, did not have enough cash on hand to replace a damaged concession card. Parames generously paid for the rest of the cost out of her own pocket, so that Ms Cheng could continue her journey.  This undoubtedly left a deep impression on Ms Cheng, who described Parames as a generous and kind-hearted person who went beyond the call of duty.  We must celebrate and encourage these and many other such acts of kindness in all aspects of our lives. 

Caring Commuter Awards

10.    Many commuters too have gone the extra mile to be kind and considerate to fellow commuters. We are awarding seven Outstanding Caring Commuter Awards today to recognise their contributions towards nurturing a gracious public transport system. 

11.    One of the recipients is Mr Thirunavukkarasu Srinivasan, a healthcare assistant. On the train home from completing his night shift, Thiru noticed that an elderly man’s electric wheelchair was stuck between the gap of the rail and platform, and he immediately went to his aid. When the wheelchair would not budge, he exited the train to pull it from the other side and managed to free the wheelchair, just before the doors closed.  

12.    So even though Thiru’s belongings were left in the train, he continued to guide the elderly man to the lift, before proceeding to inform the station staff to help retrieve his belongings. Thiru is not only a healthcare hero; he is also our everyday Singapore hero. 

Conclusion

13.    These noble acts of kindness of the award recipients are indeed inspiring.  Lending a helping hand without hesitation, no matter how big or small the deed, makes a difference and it leaves an indelible positive imprint on our society. Kindness inspires kindness, in a virtuous cycle of consideration and giving.  That is perhaps the most treasured and lasting impact of the actions of our awardees, and that of many others like them amongst us.

14.    So let us all do our part to nurture a kind and gracious society. With a friendly smile, warm words of thanks, gracious acts of kindness, we can all contribute to building a beautiful commute in our public transport system and our society. My heartiest congratulations to all our award recipients,  and thank you for being inspiring role models. Thank you.