Four honoured for selfless acts

Ms Nirmala Murugaian, who set up non profit organisation Child@Street 11 to help children from low-income families 18 years ago, and Mr Tan Kok Sing, who started the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers in 1977, were among the award winners.
Ms Nirmala Murugaian, who set up non profit organisation Child@Street 11 to help children from low-income families 18 years ago, and Mr Tan Kok Sing (above), who started the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers in 1977, were among the award winners.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Ms Nirmala Murugaian, who set up non profit organisation Child@Street 11 to help children from low-income families 18 years ago, and Mr Tan Kok Sing, who started the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers in 1977, were among the award winners.
Ms Nirmala Murugaian (above), who set up non profit organisation Child@Street 11 to help children from low-income families 18 years ago, and Mr Tan Kok Sing, who started the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers in 1977, were among the award winners.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

They win Silent Heroes awards for efforts like helping disabled musicians, mentoring youth

They come from different backgrounds and generations - the youngest is 26 years old and the oldest, 93. But they all share the same generous nature when it comes to lending a helping hand to the people around them.

Yesterday, four individuals were recognised at the annual 5th Silent Heroes Award ceremony for their efforts in putting others above self. A total of 25 people were nominated.

Among the winners were Mr Tan Kok Sing, 93, who started the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers in 1977, and Mr Ron Tan Zi Kai, 26, who started a talent management company to help musicians with disabilities.

The older Mr Tan bagged the Pioneers of Promise category award while the younger Mr Tan won in the Hearts of Humanity (Care and Disabilities) category.

Despite the challenges each of them faced, they persevered in serving others. For instance, Mr Ron Tan has 80 per cent hearing loss. Yet he taught himself how to play the piano and tried to convince others with disabilities that they, too, can make music.

Their selflessness and dedication to their cause are exemplary, said Mr M.P. Sellvem, chairman of the Silent Heroes Award and president of Civilians Association of Singapore, the organiser of the event held at Shangri-La Hotel.

  • 93-year-old steps up for the community

  • Ninety-three-year-old Tan Kok Sing credits exercise as the tonic that keeps him young, and has no qualms doing push-ups and sit-ups on the spot.

    In fact, he marked his 90th birthday with a tandem skydive in Australia in 2015.

    "If I can make it to 95 (years old), I want to do my fifth tandem jump," he said.

    However, the great-grandfather founded the Tiong Bahru Garden Joggers club in the 1970s not because he wanted to promote exercise. Rather, he saw jogging as a way to discourage younger residents in the area from glue-sniffing.

    The club has since evolved into a gathering of recreational joggers today.

    For his efforts, Mr Tan was one of four winners at the 5th Silent Heroes Award ceremony yesterday.

    "I didn't expect what I have been doing would make a big difference, " said Mr Tan, who has two children.

    "But I hope young people will know that staying healthy will make their lives happier."

    Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

Mr Sellvem added that the awards aim "to inspire and encourage everyone else to follow in their trailblazing footsteps".

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the guest of honour, said each of the winners was special. "We are all capable of having happiness for life by consistently helping others when no one is watching and no one knows what we are doing... Not because you're doing it for yourself but you're creating a better society and it's a happier society in the deepest sense of the term," he said.

The other two winners were former Straits Times journalist Nirmala Murugaian, who won in the Outstanding Adults category, and Mr Yuvan Mohan, who won the Inspiring Youth award.

Ms Nirmala founded non-profit organisation Child@Street 11 that provides subsidised education to young children from low-income and dysfunctional families. More than 120 children have benefited since the initiative began 18 years ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Yuvan has been guiding young people aged 15 to 35 to pursue their interests, in his role as chief curator at Young ChangeMakers, an initiative by the National Youth Council.

Mr Tan Kok Sing's son Yong Keng, who was at the event, said he is proud of his father. "I hope I can follow his example and lead a healthy, long life like him," the 67-year-old said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 30, 2018, with the headline 'Four honoured for selfless acts'. Print Edition | Subscribe