Awards for 446 transport staff who went the extra mile

Buona Vista MRT station service ambassador Vasaki Perumal said her job has its challenges, but she would always retain her smile. She often leads a man with visual disability and his guide dog to the bus stop, and then helps him find a seat on the bu
Buona Vista MRT station service ambassador Vasaki Perumal said her job has its challenges, but she would always retain her smile. She often leads a man with visual disability and his guide dog to the bus stop, and then helps him find a seat on the bus. Some commuters she has helped have even become her friends.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

At Buona Vista MRT station, customer service ambassador Vasaki Perumal can often be seen leading a man with visual disability and his guide dog to the bus stop.

When the bus arrives, the 56-year-old helps him find a seat before returning to her duties.

Her job scope mainly involves assisting passengers at the MRT station, but she has been helping this regular commuter to settle down in the bus for almost three years.

For going the extra mile, Ms Vasaki was recognised at the 18th National Kindness Awards - Transport Gold 2017 yesterday, along with 445 other transport staff.

The award is given to those who display exemplary service and gracious behaviour in the course of their work. It was organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), Land Transport Authority and public transport companies and associations.

Speaking at the ceremony held at Capitol Theatre, SKM general secretary William Wan said: "Beyond strong service values, the efforts of those rewarded embody the values of kindness, compassion and empathy, all of which are vital to developing a gracious, inclusive and caring society."

Such values were also shown by ComfortDelGro taxi driver Loh Nee Giap, 42, who tried to keep a woman conscious when she seemingly fainted in his cab in May. He offered her medicated oil and kept her talking as he drove her to the Singapore General Hospital. He also waived her taxi fare.

"I was rather scared as I had never seen something like this before. She was so pale. But I just wanted to help. I like to serve passengers," said Mr Loh, who was also presented with the award.

Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, said at the event that the public transport system plays an important role in the everyday lives of Singapore commuters.

Being in the service industry requires "finesse and tenacity", he added. "These individuals exemplify such values by their willingness to go the extra mile."

Ms Vasaki, who has worked for SMRT for 41/2 years, said her job has its challenges. But she would keep smiling through it, she said.

"Sometimes when there are breakdowns, the crowd can be angry... The first time someone shouted at me, I wondered why, because it was not my fault. But I just try my best to help them when rides don't go smoothly."

A few, like the commuter with his guide dog, have even become her friends. "He knows I am there every time he comes to the station, so he won't get lost or confused."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Awards for 446 transport staff who went the extra mile'. Print Edition | Subscribe