SINGAPORE - In his early years serving the Hindu community here, Mr Bala Subramanion would go from door to door, soliciting funds for the refurbishment of the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road.
The 102-year-old Mr Bala, who was Singapore's first Asian postmaster-general, also devoted his free time to other community projects such as the renovation of the Sri Sivan Temple at its former location in Orchard Road.
On Sunday (Nov 24), he was among those recognised for their contributions at a dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hindu Endowments Board.
Among other responsibilities, the board manages four temples, including the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and Sri Sivan Temple, now located in Geylang East, and organises major Hindu festivals such as Thaipusam.
The dinner, held at the Marina Mandarin, was part of a series of initiatives to celebrate the board's golden jubilee this year.
More than 80 former and current members of the board, as well as the Hindu Advisory Board, were honoured for laying the groundwork for the vibrant growth of the community here.
The community has since come a long way, said Mr Bala, who used to sit on the advisory board, which was set up in 1985 to advise the Government and the endowments board on matters of the Hindu religion and customs.
"I am proud of what we have done over the years for those in need."
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who presented tokens of appreciation to these members at the event, said many have worked hard "to make things better than what you saw and to elevate the lives of Hindus".
"It is an intense type of volunteering, frequent and often in the forefront," he added.
He added that the two boards have provided "quiet, steady and critically important leadership in the Hindu community" over the years.
This includes helping Hindu temples to relocate due to redevelopment needs and managing its finances prudently, allowing monies to be spent where needed each year.
He noted that the endowments board has also taken a large community leadership role, including organising health festivals to get the public to watch their diets.
The board has also redeveloped Little India Arcade, an area with a good mix of restaurants and shops, as a cultural landmark.
He also commended the Hindu community leaders for playing an active role in promoting inter-faith harmony, including nurturing strong networks with their other faith counterparts.
"Inter-ethnic and inter-faith tensions are a heightened feature of today's world.
"For us in Singapore, that must mean that we put even more effort into cultivating peace and harmony and building social trust," he added.
Notable individuals who had served with the boards over the years include former Presidents Devan Nair and S R Nathan.
Thanking those who have served over the decades, Mr R. Jayachandran, the Hindu Endowments Board's chairman, said the responsibility that comes with the appointment is heavy.
"Despite it being so, many have been at it almost from the formative years of (the board), dedicating a large part of their lives serving it," he added.