Do more to help fellow citizens: PM Lee

Serving community becoming more important as income gaps widen

Community service is becoming increasingly important given widening income gaps, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last night as he called on Singaporeans to do more to help fellow citizens.

"It's not possible to eliminate poverty completely. But we can and must do our best to help the poor, both to express our concern for fellow citizens and also to make sure that needy citizens are not left behind," he said.

Mr Lee was speaking at a Lions' Club dinner at Safra Toa Payoh celebrating the 25th anniversary of a food distribution project for the needy in his Ang Mo Kio GRC.

He added: "We must encourage every one of us to do something to help our fellow Singaporeans and thus keep Singapore our best home, a cohesive and united people with a bright future for all of us."

This call for Singaporeans to do more to help others has been a key message for Mr Lee over the last few months.

At last year's National Day Rally speech, he dwelt at length on the need for Singaporeans to remain big-hearted, open-minded and a "caring, generous and decent people".

Last Tuesday, he highlighted on his Facebook page two hawkers who provide free food to the poor and national servicemen.

He said he was "always heartened to read of Singaporeans who help others", and hoped they would inspire others to "step out and spread this spirit of generosity".

Yesterday, he lauded the Lions' Club's community service projects, and said he hoped that its spirit of service could be sustained and spread throughout Singapore.

"Serving the community is more important in a world where income distributions are getting wider, stretching out, and where it is easier to get immersed in our private spaces, preoccupied with our own lives and concerns, not so focused or concerned about working together to help others," he said.

Efforts such as the Lions' Club's food distribution project are "an important part of the Singapore spirit and community", he said.

They complement what the Government is doing to help the poor, through community development councils, welfare programmes and grassroots organisations.

Separately, Mr Lee also wished Singaporean fathers a Happy Father's Day both in his speech and online.

Writing on Facebook, he said: "Today, we celebrate our fathers and all that they've done for their children and families.

"Nowadays, many young fathers are much more involved in their children's lives. They believe in spending time with their kids and so strengthening their families."