Lucky Dippers tee off to raise $700k for needy students

The Lucky Dippers, seen here with SPH's editor at large Han Fook Kwang (front row, sixth from left), aimed to raise $400,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and exceeded the target by $300,000. The group is into its fifth year of organ
The Lucky Dippers, seen here with SPH's editor at large Han Fook Kwang (front row, sixth from left), aimed to raise $400,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and exceeded the target by $300,000. The group is into its fifth year of organising the charity game and the number of golfers has gone up to 138 from 105.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

More than 130 golfers took part in a charity game yesterday, raising $700,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF).

Held for the fifth year, the charity game was organised by a group of golfers called Lucky Dippers to help needy students through the fund.

The amount raised this year was higher than the sum of about $400,000 raised at the last such charity golf event two years ago.

The number of golfers has also gone up to 138 from 105.

The group presented a mock cheque of this year's donations to SPMF chairman Han Fook Kwang yesterday evening at Singapore Island Country Club.

Mr Hong Pian Tee, 70, a retired director who is part of Lucky Dippers, said: "We targeted to reach $400,000 this year but we have exceeded that. It is my 70th birthday this week and a lot of my friends said they would contribute because of the occasion."

Earlier this month, there was some online criticism about the SPMF's criteria, including how its monthly household income requirement was too stringent. The fund stipulates that this should be less than $450 per capita, stricter than the government social aid scheme ComCare, which sets it at $650 per capita.

Said Mr Han, who is editor at large at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH): "If we raise it to $650 per capita, we would need to raise more than $30 million in a year - instead of our present $7 million to $8 million in a year - because too many people would qualify.

"We have to be more selective because we are unable to raise so much money. We are a private charity, so we can only do what is possible."

There was also criticism that the fund could benefit more Singaporeans if it was not open to permanent residents. But actually, most beneficiaries are Singaporeans, said Mr Han.

He added that the SPMF's reserves, or the part of the fund which the charity can use to pay for its operations, is currently three times its annual requirements.

This is considered a "conservative" amount, as the charity guidelines are for three to five years, he said.

cherylw@sph.com.sg