We heard a faint knock at the door around 2pm on Saturday afternoon as I tapped away on my laptop; I was here in TWC2’s office to edit some photos for the website.
Mr Ho, an older Singaporean, looked like he had stumbled upon the wrong place: Golden Mile Complex with its network of offices can be a confusing experience for first timers. At the door, TWC2 treasurer Alex Au took one or two questions and asked him in like any good host.
As Mr Ho came through the door I noticed he was dressed head to toe in a light, humble ensemble of plain beige; saying a cheery “hello” to me before shuffling past. As I couldn’t hear his words earlier I wasn’t entirely sure why he was here.
It turned out that he was here to make a donation. His initial query at the door was if he had come to the right place. Were we managing the campaign for the two Chinese workers who died last week at the Bugis MRT construction site?
Indeed we were. In fact, at that very moment, donations coming in through the SgGives online portal sat at a very respectable $9,986.
Mr Ho is living proof that the quietest voices in our community are not the ones being heard, particularly with the cacophany of opinion that is circulating in online forums and news sites. What amazed me was that Mr Ho had made his way here on foot on what was a particularly hot Saturday afternoon. Indeed, he confirmed that he had struggled to find our office too, as I suspected.
Since the fatal accident on Wednesday, the campaign for donations to the families of the two deceased migrant workers, led by the bloggers Mr Miyagi and Adrianna Tan, has been inundated with cash and cheques from all corners of our community.
“Despite the naysayers on the internet TWC2’s experience has been that lots of otherwise ordinary people will rise to the occasion and contribute what they can in the spirit of a common humanity,” said Alex.
We hear a lot from Singapore’s vocal minority against donating to migrant workers. Yahoo! SG carried a story of the donation drive which was met with disdain by some in the community: “Why should we donate?” one comment said, “Why should we care?”
The trouble with online discourse around good-natured initiatives such as this, is that quite often the bile rises to the surface, not the cream. In the end Mr Ho arrived to make his contribution of $200 to push us past the magic $10,000 mark in a little more than two days. That’s an incredible achievement.
TWC2 has experience of organising this kind of campaign; a few years ago several foreign workers from India were victims of a robbery with a parang blade: they were knifed and badly injured and needed a lot of medical care. One man died.
Since they were not worksite injuries they didn’t receive any workers’ compensation. There was a donation drive led by TWC2 to raise money to support them and the deceased’s family.
Mr Ho didn’t stay long, he handed over his cash donation, received a receipt and was gone within ten minutes. But the significance of his contribution should not be lost on our community. Despite what you may read online, good souls are aplenty: Singapore isn’t a breeding ground for apathy towards migrants, we’re just not hearing those quiet voices who, like Mr Ho, are prepared to sacrifice a Saturday afternoon to help out the family of someone he had never met.
Don’t forget that. We’re better for listening to people like Mr Ho. He is proof that we care.