Recognise inspirational foreigners, too

Ponnan Muthukumar (right) and Subramanian Shanmuganathan, foreign workers from India who fearlessly scaled an HDB block to save a trapped toddler.
Ponnan Muthukumar (right) and Subramanian Shanmuganathan, foreign workers from India who fearlessly scaled an HDB block to save a trapped toddler.PHOTO: ST FILE

I welcome The Straits Times' introduction of the annual ST Singaporean of the Year award to salute newsmakers who have made us proud to be Singaporeans ("Award for Singaporean who inspires the nation"; last Saturday).

Their stories reassure us of the kindness and empathy intrinsic to the human heart, and encourage us to help those around us ("Inspiration to us all"; Monday).

But what about the non-citizens who make up some 40 per cent of the people on our little red dot? The Straits Times has been equally active in profiling their good deeds.

Who can forget Mr Subramanian Shanmuganathan and Mr Ponnan Muthukumar, foreign workers from India who fearlessly scaled an HDB block to save a trapped toddler ("Rescuers' only thought was to save toddler"; April 25)?

Or Mr Mohd Rizuan Kauhinin, Mr Simon Gohinmin and Mr Mazlee Liong, some of the native Sabahan guides who carried injured Tanjong Katong Primary School pupils down Mount Kinabalu after last month's earthquake ("Sabah quake survivors meet guides at tearful reunion"; June 18)?

Or Indonesian tycoon Stephen Riady, who donated $25 million to the National University of Singapore ("Tycoon donates $25m for NUS liberal arts"; Nov 17, 2012)?

I urge The Straits Times to have a parallel ST Foreigner of the Year award to honour non-citizens who have made extraordinary contributions towards the common good. Reminding Singaporeans of the good work of foreigners would go a long way in quelling the xenophobia which has reared its ugly head in recent years.

It could also improve ties with our neighbouring countries by showing that Singaporeans appreciate the contributions of their citizens.

Estella Young (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Recognise inspirational foreigners, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe