SINGAPORE - A second-hand car dealer who has made it his life’s mission to help strangers in need was named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2022 on Thursday.
Mr Anson Ng, 55, gets calls and messages throughout the day from friends and strangers who need help paying medical bills or covering funeral fees.
He started helping out at old age homes and hospices more than 20 years ago, befriending seniors and cooking for the terminally ill. Learning about their last wishes, he offered to make arrangements for those who could not afford it.
Mr Ng, owner of second-hand car dealership Presto Expat Motoring Services, said: “I can’t bring my money with me when I die. I would rather spend it to make these people happy and provide them with the send-off they deserve. Money is really not everything.”
Mr Ng, who is married with two children, feels strongly about helping the less fortunate. When he was nine, his adoptive father killed himself, leaving him to work odd jobs to help his family make ends meet.
His charity Hao Ren Hao Shi (Good People, Good Deeds) has given out monthly provisions and food to the less fortunate since 2018, and helps about 1,000 families a month.
For his kind deeds and positive impact on the less fortunate, Mr Ng received the Singaporean of the Year award from President Halimah Yacob, who was the guest of honour at the award ceremony at Raffles Hotel Singapore.
Mr Ng said: “I didn’t expect to win the award, since so many people are doing good. But it is a good chance to tell Singapore about how important it is to serve our needy and elderly. We must teach our young to do good, so that our nation will be in good hands in the future. Who else will take care of our sick and old in the future?”
Madam Halimah said the 2022 nominees were a varied lot, but they were united by the impact they made on society.
“These Singapore stories of grit, goodwill and glory will remind us to stand together, and inspire us to move forward as one united people. Let us lift our heads, let us celebrate the light in each of us; and in turn, let us all be the light in our society,” she said.
Organised by The Straits Times and presented by UBS Singapore, the Singaporean of the Year award is given each year to a Singaporean individual or group that has made an impact in society.
This could be through achievements that have put Singapore on the global stage, for improving the lives of others or showing resilience in the face of adversity. The award is now in its eighth year.
Mr Ng was nominated alongside other finalists, like Mr Priveen Suraj Santakumar and Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, who fed Ukrainian refugees in Poland; Ms Khairiah Hanim Mazlan, a private-hire car driver who talks to passengers about their mental health; and Associate Professor Too Heng-Phon, a biochemist passionate about Singapore’s life sciences scene.
Other finalists included Ms Alison Lim and Mr Anjang Rosli, a pair with dementia who help others with their condition; the founder of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder organisation Unlocking ADHD, Ms Moonlake Lee; married badminton players Terry Hee and Jessica Tan; and table tennis player Feng Tianwei.
Mr Ng was awarded a trophy and $20,000 in cash, while the other finalists received $5,000 each. The prize money was sponsored by UBS, which has supported the award since its inception.
Other sponsors included official airline partner Singapore Airlines (SIA), global hotel partner Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and award ceremony partner Raffles Hotel Singapore.
The Singaporean of the Year received a five-night stay at any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ global properties and a three-night stay at Raffles Hotel Singapore, as well as a pair of SIA business class tickets. The remaining finalists each received a three-night stay at any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ global properties and a pair of SIA economy class tickets.
Editor of The Straits Times Jaime Ho said: “This year, we honour a dedicated individual who has devoted more than 20 years of his life to the less fortunate in Singapore.
“He epitomises the selfless and generous ideals we all aspire to ourselves, and leads the way in showing that every deed, big or small, starts with one person and has infinite potential to inspire.”
Mr Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia Pacific of UBS Group and UBS, said the award showcases daily heroes who inspire Singaporeans through their actions.
He added: “Anson Ng, our Singaporean of the Year 2022, demonstrated how it was possible to give dignity and respect in death through his charitable work for over two decades.”
The 2021 award went to Mr Sakthibalan Balathandautham, who donated part of his liver to a one-year-old girl he had never met after he came across a plea online from a young couple.