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Helping the needy – Mr Koh replies

On 5 July, and on Mr Koh’s behalf, we asked you our readers for suggestions on how Mr Koh should use his S$500,000 funds to help needy Singaporeans. (See here: How should I help?) We have received quite a few replies and suggestions – both in the comments section here and through email. We thank everyone who made these suggestions and we welcome any further ideas you may have.

Here is Mr Koh’s (not his real name) response to your feedback.

Firstly, I would like to thank the 80 or so people who emailed or posted their suggestions, ideas and comments.

I was particularly moved by a few readers who offered to help in various capacities, although they indicated that they were just getting by in life with rather low incomes.

This is perhaps underscored by the statistics from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NYPC) that 16 per cent of volunteers earn less than $1,000 a month.

Some of the suggestions centred along the idea of setting up a place(s) to rent to the homeless and needy Singaporeans at a very low or zero cost.

Logistically and because of the various licensing regulations, I have been advised that this may not be feasible.

As to paying hostel operators to house the homeless, I have been advised that they can only rent to foreigners, but not to Singaporeans.

My gut feel is that perhaps the best suggestions were along the lines that support could be given to small start-up social entrepreneurs, who hopefully will be able to start, grow their business, and give back to society.

My humble view is that whilst the primary objective of entrepreneurship is to make money, we need to nurture and encourage a new breed of social entrepreneurs, whose focus is to give back to help others in greater need.

Thank you for all your encouraging remarks.

As to employing needy elderly Singaporeans, I am already trying to do that in my businesses over the years.

Do keep your suggestions, ideas, recommendations, comments, and offers of help coming.

I think needy Singaporeans need all the help that they can get.

If you come across any needy Singaporeans who may have fallen through the cracks in our social security system, please let us know, so that we can try to help.

With warmest regards

“Mr Koh”