ESM Goh puts own bicentennial $20 notes on auction at charity gala, raises $36,199

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong giving children high-fives at the charity gala lunch for Arc Children's Centre on June 30, 2019.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong giving children high-fives at the charity gala lunch for Arc Children's Centre on June 30, 2019.ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN

SINGAPORE - In an unplanned act of charity, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong put his own set of three bicentennial $20 commemorative notes on auction at a children's charity gala on Sunday (June 30).

ESM Goh, who was guest of honour at the charity gala lunch for Arc Children's Centre, which supports children with cancer and life-threatening illnesses, said he had originally not brought anything to contribute to the charity auction, but came up with the idea on the spot.

"I have just bought the bicentennial $20 notes. This is an uncut piece of the note. It's worth more than $60," he said, to laughter from the crowd.

It eventually went for $36,199 and the bidder was later identified as property developer City Developments Limited.

The three-in-one uncut sheet sells for $280, according to the Singapore Mint website. There were just 5,000 sets made, but they have already sold out.

In his speech to the 550 people at the gala held at Shangri-La Hotel, ESM Goh highlighted the difficulties and trauma faced by children with cancer and their families. The children may be separated from their families while confined to the hospital for treatment, he said.

He said Arc Children's Centre engages them in educational and enrichment activities, and helps them rebuild their self-confidence.

ESM Goh added that the organisation plans to help more children and shift to bigger premises.

The centre will be moving into new and larger premises at the void deck of Block 77 Lorong Limau, near Whampoa, later this year, said co-founder Geraldine Lee.

She said the new premises are more than twice as big as the current premises in Kim Keat Road, with 5,000 sq ft of floor space compared to 2,200 sq ft.

"We want to reach out to more parents whose kids have cancer or any form of life-threatening illnesses. Currently, it is hard to reach out to them because they are all over. Our beneficiaries are mainly from KK Hospital and the National University Hospital, but there are more parents out there in need."

While the centre charges $10 a day per child, exceptions can be made for parents facing financial difficulty, said Ms Lee.

Sunday's event raised more than $600,000, and the money will be used to help fund the new premises and also programmes for the children.

ESM Goh said: "When I was prime minister, I strove for a kinder and gentler Singapore. With a wider network, we can build an even better home for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in Singapore."