The donation of S$40 made by President Halimah Yacob to The Boys’ Brigade Share-a-Gift (BBSG) charity programme was a “symbolic donation” and not the “actual donation” she had made, the Boys’ Brigade made a clarification on Thursday (19 November).
The Boys’ Brigade said in a statement that the amount donated by President Halimah during the ceremony was a symbolic donation to the first beneficiary to launch the BBSG programme, as reported by TODAY online.
It added that the amount was set at S$40 to match the value of the FairPrice vouchers that each beneficiary will receive.
“It was not the actual donation made by Madam Halimah,” the Boys’ Brigade noted.
According to the Boys’ Brigade, President Halimah had in fact earlier pledged to donate to 200 beneficiaries when she agreed to grace the opening ceremony.
Earlier, it was reported by The Straits Times (ST) that President Halimah made the first donation of only S$40 to BBSG charity drive on Wednesday (18 November).
According to ST, during the event, President Halimah had talked about how local charities and non-profit organisations have adapted their programmes and fund-raising efforts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Present with her at the opening ceremony at BB Campus in Ganges Avenue were Prudential Singapore’s chief executive Dennis Tan and FairPrice Group’s CEO Seah Kian Peng.
The BBSG – the annual national community service project from The Boys’ Brigade – is also supported by the National Council of Social Service and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
It is worth noting that President Halimah’s salary is reportedly at least S$1.6 million a year with other benefits added in, according to the White Paper on Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government released in 2012.
Following the clarification from The Boys’ Brigade, the netizens were quick to pen their thoughts about the “symbolic donation” made by President Halimah on the Facebook page of TODAYonline.
The netizens expressed that the symbolic donation of S$40 is “so little” for a President who “earns millions a year”. They said that this “sets a very bad example to the others”.
A handful of netizens also said that a President should set a good example for all Singaporeans and donate more to charity. “Please show you care when everyone are suffering…no need to show what charity you do,” a netizen wrote.
Making fun of the word “symbolic”, some netizens mocked that the symbolic donation made by President Halimah is just like “playing masak-masak” and “the photos hang in every public places” – symbolic and no contribution.
Other netizens also noted that the clarification came too late for “damage control” after backlash.