It's work, work for some during festive time

Mr Chan Tak Mun at a lookout tower in Palawan Beach. The 38-year-old will be among about 20 beach patrol officers helping to keep Sentosa's waters safe for swimmers during Chinese New Year, one of the island's busiest periods.
Mr Chan Tak Mun at a lookout tower in Palawan Beach. The 38-year-old will be among about 20 beach patrol officers helping to keep Sentosa's waters safe for swimmers during Chinese New Year, one of the island's busiest periods.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Mr Dragon Chua, a guest services executive at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, will be working from 7am to 4.30pm for the first four days of the festive season. His decision to work means some foreign colleagues can spend the holiday with loved ones back h
Mr Dragon Chua, a guest services executive at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, will be working from 7am to 4.30pm for the first four days of the festive season. His decision to work means some foreign colleagues can spend the holiday with loved ones back home.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

While many will be visiting relatives and feasting during Chinese New Year, some will be working hard during the festive season instead. The Straits Times speaks to two such employees.

For the seventh straight year, Mr Chan Tak Mun will be working during Chinese New Year, instead of being with his family.

The 38-year-old will be among about 20 beach patrol officers helping to keep Sentosa's waters safe for swimmers during one of the island's busiest periods.

On festive occasions, extra hands are needed at Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong beaches.

With only 19 full-and part-timers, the team has to tap its 10 Chinese lifeguards, including Mr Chan and other guards who work ad hoc, to cope with the festive crowd.

His wife and three-year-old daughter have made peace with his schedule.

"They wish I could take time off, but they understand the nature of my job. They're used to it," he said.

Mr Chan is not alone in having to work during Chinese New Year.

Those working in public transport, food and beverage, and retail sectors also have to forgo time with their families.

FairPrice said last week that it was keeping 138 out of its 147 stores open tomorrow.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) also said yesterday that over 900 general practitioner clinics will be open during the Chinese New Year holiday.

Details about the clinics and their operating hours can be found on the MOH website.

Like Mr Chan, Mr Dragon Chua will also be away from his family tomorrow. The guest services executive at the Royal Plaza on Scotts will be helping guests to check in and out from 7am to 4.30pm for the first four days of the festive season.

This is his first Chinese New Year away from his family since joining the hotel in November 2015.

It also means he will not be spending much time with his three-month-old daughter.

"I chose to work to take in the festive atmosphere and the Chinese New Year decorations," said the 24-year-old.

His decision means some foreign colleagues can now spend the holiday with loved ones back home.

"My family's in Singapore, so I can easily see them after work.

"But my colleagues have to travel back to their home towns, so they do not have that luxury."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'It's work, work for some during festive time'. Print Edition | Subscribe