Saturday, December 02, 2006

So Many Outreached Hands

In Singapore, practically everyday, everywhere you will encounter an outreached hand asking for your donations. Let’s start with your home. Every week I receive letters from charities like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Christian Outreach To the Handicapped, Association of Mouth And Foot Painting Artists' just to name a few. Some come to your doorstep, and others, right into your living room via the television. And when you step out of the house, they accost you at MRT stations and kopitiams.

After a while, you develop compassion fatigue and you learn to say 'no'; especially when you worry that the organisation you donate to will turn out to be another NKF. Recently, I received a request to donate to the National University of Singapore. Like many other Singaporeans I refused. I don’t know. Looking at all the beautiful stadiums and concert halls they have, I just don’t think they need my dollar more than the many small, lesser known charities.

But there's one particular outreached hand (maybe I should say fist) that you cannot say no to. I am talking about our government of course. Shortly, they intend to increase the GST or Goods and Services Tax by 2% to 7%. Apparently our government needs the money to fund various programmes to help the aged and the needy. But they are so kind. They promise not to increase fees for government services for one year. Does that mean that yearly increases are a norm? Anyway, after the one year they can always make up for it can’t they?
Sometimes, I wonder. If we are as well off as everybody seems to believe, how come there are so many poor and needy people in this little country?

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