Monday, Sep 1, 2014Monday, Sep 1, 2014
Opinion
 

Stories that raised funds and touched hearts

Published on Jul 13, 2014 6:00 AM
 
Deborah Toh (centre, facing camera) getting a goodbye group hug from her classmates. Correspondent Toh Yong Chuan wrote about bringing his daughter Deborah to the Philippines to visit the village and home of their domestic helper. -- ST PHOTO: TOH YONG CHUAN

WRITERS often wonder if anyone reads what they write; and even if they did read, whether anyone cares; and even if they cared, whether anything ever changes as a result of what we write.

Well, at least one concrete thing did change as a result of one article in The Straits Times.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani writes a monthly column in the Opinion pages of the Straits Times. In April, he had called for a history book prize to promote the writing of Singapore history.

That article is here: Three stories to strengthen the Singapore spirit

He was able to announce this week that an donor who wants to remain anonymous, had agreed to start a $500,000 endowment to fund a book prize for a history book. Interest from the endowment will fund a book prize, wich will be given out every three years, beginning in 2018.

The article is here: $5 meals, $500 holidays and $50k homes for SG50

Prof Mahbubani has an amazing network of friends and contacts in high places. He is also extremely persuasive and an excellent negotiator. So it is no surprise that his words - and his personal charm and considerable clout - can net half a million dollars worth of prize money.

Not all writers have such networks.

But sometimes, humble stories of ordinary things touch hearts too.

Last weekend, we ran an article by one of our correspondents Toh Yong Chuan. He wrote about bringing his daughter to the Philippines to visit the village and home of their domestic helper. He shared his insights into what the little girl - and her parents - learnt.

It’s a simple, heartwarming story. It touched hearts. It didn’t raise half a million dollars, but it did get shared over 31,600 times on Facebook, which isn’t too bad.

You can read it here: What my 8-year-old learnt at a Philippine school

As Opinion Editor, I’m constantly on the lookout for articles on breaking news issues that go a little bit further than what we’re reading on each other’s Facebook posts, that offer some useful perspective or shed light on heated debate.

Institute of Policy Studies research fellow Carol Soon weighed in on the raging controversy over the National Libary Board’s decision to remove - and subesquently pulp - three children’s books that a member of the public had complained about for not promoting a pro-family stance.

She pointed out that such calls to cull books from public libraries are by no means confined to Singapore. Citizens in liberal societies have called for Harry Potter books to be banned from libraries for promoting the occult; and for Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for promoting racial stereotypes.

So what’s a library to do? Dr Soon has a simple suggestion: Stick with promoting learning; leave policing of morals to others.
Her article is here: Libraries should promote learning, not police values

If you like these stories, do bookmark this page. We put up original commentaries each day: www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion

Have a great Sunday!

muihoong@sph.com.sg

Opinion Editor Chua Mui Hoong writes a weekly blog on this page on Sundays.