Malay volunteers bring CNY cheer to elderly Chinese

Volunteers, including biker group members, with a resident in Woodlands on the first day of Chinese New Year last Friday. They distributed packs of food mainly to elderly Chinese living alone, as well as those who are less mobile, but there were also
Volunteers, including biker group members, with a resident in Woodlands on the first day of Chinese New Year last Friday. They distributed packs of food mainly to elderly Chinese living alone, as well as those who are less mobile, but there were also Indian and Malay recipients.

They give out goodie bags and also hold food session for some 300 residents in Woodlands

On the first day of Chinese New Year, a group of Malay volunteers in Woodlands gathered to spread festive cheer, distributing goodie bags to elderly Chinese who live alone in rental flats and organising a "makan" session for about 300 residents.

Mr Amrin Amin, an MP for Sembawang GRC, shared photographs of the event at Block 802, Woodlands Street 81, in a Facebook post on Sunday.

About 25 Malay volunteers who live in Woodlands turned up to help organise the makan session, which was attended by residents of various races and ages, Mr Amrin told The Straits Times yesterday.

They were joined by about 50 motorcyclists from four biker groups, who helped to distribute packs of food such as chicken rice and beehoon to 100 homes.

The recipients were mainly elderly Chinese who live alone, as well as those who are less mobile, although the volunteers gave out food to Indians and Malays as well.

Mr Amrin had met some of the leaders of the biker groups while on his house visits and invited them to participate in the charity event. And they did so heartily, he said.

This was the second time such an event was organised on the first day of Chinese New Year for the Woodlands residents, Mr Amrin said.

But it was the first time the bikers were involved in the distribution of food. It was also the first time the volunteers helped to spring-clean the homes of some elderly residents.

About 30 volunteers spruced up the windows, toilets and living areas of eight homes on the Sunday before Chinese New Year.

"We started on a small scale with eight houses, all from rental blocks in Woodlands," said Mr Amrin.

The work was done by Malay volunteers, which was what he requested as he did not want to disturb Chinese volunteers who were preparing for or celebrating Chinese New Year.

Joining in the festivities were 16 men from a local van drivers' club called Abam Abam Van Singapura, along with some of their wives.

The club said on Facebook that the event was a blessing "as we got to know more people who shared the same passion that we have in the name of charity".

Project engineer Khairil Anuar, 32, leader of the club, told The Straits Times that the event went well. "It was a good charity event. I feel good doing it as I also reside in Woodlands," he said.

Mr Muhamad Faiz, 30, who helped to organise the events as co-chairman of Woodlands' Malay Activities Executive Committee, said that the residents enjoyed the makan session.

"I believe food is a great way to help people bond. And having Mr Amrin prepare the prata, it's a special treat for them," he said.

"Those living alone shouldn't be left out during this joyous occasion. We'll probably do it again next year. It'll probably be bigger next year."

Mr Amrin said food sharing is a good practice that he hopes to encourage and also one which he grew up with. "I think most of us grew up in that environment where, during the festive season, we exchanged goodies," he said.

"I'm very heartened by the response, in particular by different groups of people coming together.

"This is what we've talked about - the kampung spirit. When our Chinese friends are busy celebrating Chinese New Year, another group can come in to help and spread the cheer."

The MP said a resident, Mr Ong Lai Seng, who was at the makan session and whose flat was cleaned by volunteers, told him: "Here, everyone is good - Malay, Chinese, Indian all good."

Mr Amrin said: "Now that's the Singapore spirit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Malay volunteers bring CNY cheer to elderly Chinese'. Print Edition | Subscribe