PM Lee and residents ride for a good cause

PM Lee cycling with residents during a charity cycling challenge.ST VIDEO: DANSON CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Along with fellow residents and neighbours, Madam Aisah Mohamed Ismail pedalled her heart out on Sunday (Sept 24) for the sake of charity.

The 56-year-old preschool teacher cycled 4km on stationary bicycle at the annual Ci Yuan Day, as part of a challenge that saw a 1kg bag of brown rice donated to charity for every kilometre ridden.

"I like cycling and this is for a really good cause," said Madam Aisah as she pedalled away, barely skipping a beat.

In total, the "Ride for Charity" challenge saw 2,000kg of brown rice given away equally to four charities - Awwa, Salvation Army's Gracehaven home, Metta Day Activity Centre for the Intellectually Disabled and Ang Mo Kio-Hougang Community Development and Welfare Fund.

IT consultant Thilak Bhagavathi Kannu, 40, also rode 4km. He said: "It's a very meaningful concept, you encourage people to exercise and give them the chance to do good at the same time."

The rice will be used in homes or institutions run by the charities, or distributed to needy families, said the Ci Yuan Community Club. The cost of the rice will be borne by a sponsor of the community club.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong kicked off the challenge on Sunday, cycling a distance of 3.26km on his stationary bike. With PM Lee, were fellow Ang Mo Kio GRC MPs Darryl David, Ang Hin Kee and Gan Thiam Poh, and Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min.

Event organisers made an exception for PM Lee, announcing to cheers that 100kg of rice would be donated for every kilometre he cycled.

During his National Day Rally speech last month, PM Lee urged Singaporeans to choose healthier options such as brown or mixed rice over white rice, as a way to combat diabetes.

"It's so wonderful to see so many people here today. Today we are celebrating a healthy lifestyle," said Mr David, before the challenge.

Ci Yuan is part of Mr David's division within Ang Mo Kio GRC. Ci Yuan Day is held annually to celebrate the opening of Ci Yuan Community Club two years ago.

The event - which included mass dance workouts, a clay art station and a bouncy castle for children - was held at a community park at Hougang Ave 8.

On Sunday, the park was also renamed Ci Yuan Harmony Park, in a short ceremony.

Formerly known as Punggol South Park, it was given a new name, decided on by residents in an earlier vote. Other names on the ballot that lost out were: Ci Yuan Pavilion Park and Ci Yuan Community Park.