SINGAPORE - Magic tricks are often associated with deception and sleight of hand.
But there is a sincere motivation behind Dr Sin Yong's use of magic as a tool, to contribute to community bonds in his neighbourhood and encourage Singaporeans to be kinder to one another.
Dr Sin, 29, who works at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital's ear, nose and throat department, has been weaving messages of kindness into the magic shows that he stages in Ghim Moh.
For instance, one of his "mind-reading" tricks involves him showing a volunteer five cards describing different ways of showing kindness, before correctly guessing what the person's favourite way of showing kindness is.
The National University of Singapore graduate said: "Throughout my time doing magic, it was always a joy seeing people smile."
Although Dr Sin and his wife will move into their HDB flat in Ghim Moh only at the end of the year, he has already started reaching out to his future neighbours.
With the support of a $5,000 grant from the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund, he organised a magic show called Magic Of Kindness at the precinct pavilion near Ghim Moh Market in April, which drew some 200 residents.
He also created a magazine cataloguing acts of kindness, and printed 400 copies of it to be distributed to residents.
Dr Sin hopes his Magic Of Kindness initiative will work wonders in improving community bonds.
"Singapore is a multiracial, multicultural community, with people of different backgrounds and beliefs. That can easily generate divisions within the community," he added.
"It is important that many of us, no matter our background, step up to bridge this divide, essentially, sealing any small divides that may be waiting to crack."
Dr Sin, who started picking up magic tricks when he was 12, began conducting free magic shows for people in Singapore last year.
It was a joy seeing people smile, he said, and performing for others also made him less introverted. "The only way to form a bond with someone is by talking with them. Magic is an icebreaker," he added.
He hopes his magic shows will help raise awareness and make people think more about kindness so that they can share it with others.
"Even simple things like holding a lift, a door, offering to share a table at a hawker centre... a simple good morning, will bring a smile to anyone's face," said Dr Sin.
He also hopes for Singapore to be a place "where everyone can be met with smiling faces throughout their trips on the MRT".
"If every Singaporean can just take 15 minutes every day to help anyone in need, that would be sufficient as a starting point. It would spark a revolution in our lives," he said.