BUDGET 2016 - Shaping our future together: Fostering community

$25m fund for projects that show Singapore has a heart

Civil servant Dadlani-Ramchand (right) and her sister, Ms Dadlani-Dhalani, tapped on the SG50 Celebration Fund to write and publish a children's book series about Singapore. Friends Mr Quek and Mr Ang, with the help of 600 volunteers, took 100 wheelc
Friends Mr Quek and Mr Ang, with the help of 600 volunteers, took 100 wheelchair users last June on a jaunt to Pulau Ubin using Republic of Singapore Navy vessels. This year, they plan to carry out the project again and also take wheelchair users up Bukit Timah.PHOTO: COURTESY OF LEE SIEW YIAN
Civil servant Dadlani-Ramchand (right) and her sister, Ms Dadlani-Dhalani, tapped on the SG50 Celebration Fund to write and publish a children's book series about Singapore. Friends Mr Quek and Mr Ang, with the help of 600 volunteers, took 100 wheelc
Civil servant Dadlani-Ramchand (right) and her sister, Ms Dadlani-Dhalani, tapped on the SG50 Celebration Fund to write and publish a children's book series about Singapore.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SEEMA DADLANI-RAMCHAND

First, there was the SG50 Celebration Fund. That party may be over, but the passion remains. Now, $25 million is up for grabs for Singaporeans with a special, heartfelt project.

The Government has set aside that sum for a new SG50-inspired Our Singapore Fund. To be coordinated by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), it will be set up by the second half of this year, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

The fund will provide support for meaningful projects led by Singaporeans that build national identity or meet the needs of the community. The MCCY will give more details at its Committee of Supply parliamentary sitting.

"This fund will support projects that build the spirit of caring and resilience, nurture our can-do spirit, and promote unity and our sense of being Singaporean," said Mr Heng.

The minister acknowledged the good response to the SG50 Celebration Fund, which supported projects to celebrate last year's jubilee.

That fund aided around 400 initiatives. Among them was Wheels@Ubin, started by two sports enthusiasts.

 
 

Realising that Pulau Ubin is fairly inaccessible to wheelchair users - regular transport is by bumboat - able-bodied friends Dennis Quek, 54, and Wilson Ang, 45, decided to do something about it.

Last June, they took a group of 100 wheelchair users - identified from organisations such as the Asian Women's Welfare Association and the Singapore Disability Sports Council - on a jaunt to the island using Republic of Singapore Navy vessels. The project involved 600 volunteers, including members of the public.

Mr Quek, a director at Republic Polytechnic's Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management, said: "We felt that no part of Singapore should be inaccessible to any Singaporean, and decided to use Pulau Ubin as a destination to rally for a more inclusive society."

He and Mr Ang plan to carry out the project again this year, and are also looking at taking wheelchair users up Bukit Timah. "To many avid trekkers, it is a hill, but for people with disabilities, it may well be their Mount Everest," Mr Quek said.

In his Budget address, Mr Heng also cited civil servant Seema Dadlani-Ramchand, 33, and her sister, Ms Harsha Dadlani-Dhalani, 36, who, with support from the SG50 Celebration Fund, wrote and published six children's books on Singapore last year.

They hope to tap the new Our Singapore Fund to work on more such books. Mrs Dadlani-Ramchand said: "We were born and raised in Singapore and love being Singaporeans. We were inspired by the unique experiences growing up, and wanted to share these with our children."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline '$25m fund for projects that show Singapore has a heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe