Singapore, 21 July 2014 – The Businesses and Unions Cluster of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) will showcase the winning entries from its recent Harmony @ Workplaces Photo Contest. The contest is aimed to build public awareness about the importance of building relationships with colleagues in achieving harmonious workplaces and will be held from today (21 July) till 4 August 2014, 8.30am-5.30pm, at MOM Services Centre, Level 1 Foyer, at 1500 Bendemeer Road.
The Harmony @ Workplaces Photo Contest is part of CEP’s ongoing initiatives to strengthen understanding and ties among colleagues of different races and religions. The contest succeeded in creating opportunities for workers across Singapore to showcase how their organisations create harmonious workplaces. A total of 370 entries from 270 organisations were received.
Mr Felix Ong, MOM’s Director of Labour Relations said, “The creative entries and comments shared by the participants have provided insights and inspiration to what it means to create an inclusive workplace culture. It is great to see snippets of joyous moments shared by colleagues from various backgrounds and cultures.”
The top three and ten consolation entry winners received a total of S$3,200 at the prize ceremony held today (21 July), which is also Racial Harmony Day.
It is my birthday today! Nope, I am not dropping random dates. Its my birthday!
For this day, I would like to spread some love! I am giving away up to three pairs of Cat 3 tickets to My Singpaore Project Charity Concert. The tickets are sponsored by the organisers themselves.
Official Beneficiary: President’s Challenge 2014 (63 charities in Sg will benefit)
Presenting Sponsor: CapitaLand Hope Foundation
Guest of Honour: President Mr Tony Tan
Concert date: 12 Aug 2014 (Tuesday)
Time: 7.30pm (Please be at the door by 7pm latest to collect tickets)
Venue: The Star Performing Arts Centre
Address: 1 Vista Exchange Green #04-01 Singapore 138617
My Singapore Project Charity Concert is led by Lorraine Tan, a local singer-composer. For four years, every year, she creates an original song and music in celebration for the National Day, with the hope of inspiring fellow Singaporeans to help the less fortunate as they pursue their dreams and work towards their goals. This year, there were more than 150 volunteers who turned up to show support at the recording of the My Singapore Project’s theme song – Moments of Love. Amongst them were Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Mayor, North East District; Ms Penny Low, Member of Parliament; presenting charity sponsor, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, as well as local personality Dr Jia Jia and local artiste Nathan Hartono.
This year, together with presenting charity sponsor, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the movement aims to raise 375 thousand dollars for official beneficiary – President’s Challenge 2014.
The official theme song music video will feature students from Admiralty Primary, Park View Primary, Yang Zheng Primary and West Spring Primary; Bedok Town Secondary, Fuchun Secondary schools, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School and Hwa Chong Institution, alongside our Members of Parliament and local personalities and talents.
It is easy! On Facebook, just like and share my original Facebook update and comment “Liked and share.” Or just retweet! I will select and contact up to 3 lucky person on 27th July 2014. The prize is a pair of concert tickets each.
Birthday Giveaway! Tickets to My Singapore Project Charity Concert http://t.co/l8aCdXrRow
I registered myself as a bone marrow donor in around June 2013. How I got to know the Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) was indirectly through my part-time internship stint at GNum. BMDP is Singapore’s bone marrow registry. There are numerous registries worldwide. Unlike the blood bank, which is supported by HSA, BMDP receives no government funding. The video production crew was sharing the same office space as GNum and they had just completed a shoot for the programme. After a quick chat with them, I decided to sign up for a postal testing kit. My motivation was more of a fun thing. There is 1 in 20,000 chances of getting a match. So I thought, “Just registered la ah. For all I know, I won’t get a match at all.”
The test was simple. Included in the kit is a pair of cheek swabs. Swab your cheeks for a minute or two and then send them back with your information through the self-addressed envelope. Each test costs $150, but it is done free for us. However, as said earlier, BDMP receives no government funding. So, every little amount you donate will help to offset the running costs.
Fast forward one year later. In June 2014, I received a call from BDMP saying that I am a match to a recipient, and was requested to go down for a confirmatory testing and a donor workup. Chirply, I agreed. The first group of people I shared the news with was my friends at HackerspaceSG. After all, it was where I received the call while doing my stuff there. It was in our disbelief that I was a match, given the relatively low probability.
I went for the confirmatory testing and the donor workup at Novena Specialist Center, where BDMP is located. The confirmatory testing is the same cheek swabs process. It is to ensure that the initial testing is correct. The donor workup is to ascertain that I am of healthy condition to donate and I am willing to go through the process. At every stage, I was asked repeated by the coordinator to make sure that I want to go through. Apparently, there were cases where the donor decided to pull out at any point in time, even just before the actual procedure. The registry didn’t want to give false hope to the recipient, neither did I. Due to confidentiality issues, I am only told that the recipient is around my age, is a male, suffers from a rare form of leukemia and is at the end stage of it. A bone marrow transplant is his only chance left at surviving.
Strictly speaking, it is not the bone marrow that is required, but the stem cells. Because of that, there are two ways to donate. The first is the traditional method of extracting the cells in the bone marrow. It is a surgical operation. The donor will feel sore in the lower back for the next few days and the missing bone marrow will be replaced in 4 to 6 weeks time. The second method is PBSC donation. It is similar to blood apheresis donation process. 5 days prior to the extraction of the stem cells, the donor is to be injected with a drug to stimulate the stem cells out from the bone marrow into the blood circulatory system. The blood is then filtered for the stem cells. Side effects from the drugs include headaches, bone or muscle aches. Recovery is fast once the donor is off from the drug. After the discovery of the second method, over 90% of the donors choose the second method.
I choose to do the traditional way for various reasons. According to my schedule, I had to no time or energy to deal with the side effects of the drugs. I had rehearsals, work and studies to deal with. And I hate needles. It is a necessary evil, but I avoid whenever I can. Surprisingly so, since I am a frequent blood donor. And it is also because I am a blood donor, I know that I cannot stand having a needle inserted within me for more than 30 minutes, let alone 6 hours with 2 needles.
After the confirmatory testing was done, I went back home and broke the news. The first thing was asked was whether I am sure I want to go through the procedure and that I understand the risks involved and that I had talked to my elder brother, who is a doctor about it.
The donation was initially to be done in end June, but due to developing complications on the recipient’s end, it was postponed to July. After much deliberation over mine and the doctor’s schedule, the operation date was scheduled on the day after my graduation, 16 July 2014.
As I performed in the finale for my graduation ceremony, along with the performing and stage crew, we were offered a celebratory dinner at Number Nine restuarant at Millenia Walk after the ceremonies had ended. I wished I could have got drunk with the rest. I skipped out on the alcohol and had mocktails: one Virgin Mary and plenty of Gunner, and plenty of meat: steaks and pork collar. Yummylicious! The night closed with a couple of games at the pool table.
I took a cab at 6am to Novena Mount Elizabeth Hospital from Pan Pacific Singapore Hotel. To the cab driver, I have to say thank you. I had only $9 with me. The fare was $11+. Without asking me why I was going to the hospital, he chose not to make a fuss and gave me a discount. After admitted to the hospital, I changed to the hospital gown that was provided. I was wheeled into the operating theatre after the nurses and doctors walked through with me on questions on allergies and if I had operations before.
The operation started at 8.30am. I didn’t know what happened during the operation as I was on general anesthesia. The next moment I woke up, I was on the hospital bed. The operation ended at 9.15am and when I saw the clock, it was past 10am. One thing I forgot was that I occasionally had low blood pressure after blood donations. The silly me had myself propped up and the next thing I knew was that I was seeing stars. For the next 6 hours, I was on IV drips to replace the volume of blood that was extracted. Over a litre of blood was taken out through the bone marrow.
As the operation was a day operation, I was discharged at around 4pm. I went back home, and fell asleep till 10pm. According to my brother, I snored like nobody’s business. I guess my body pretty much took a beating from the operation.
A post-operation cheek-up will be done at a later stage. This is to make sure that I have no lasting effects from the operation, which in most cases do not happen.
Now, the ball is in the recipient’s court. Get well and put my cells into good use, you unknown recipient!
The Bone Marrow Donor Programme requires donors, be it the bone marrow or financially. You can sign up as a bone marrow donor through their website. A postal kit will be sent to you. If you want to support the programme in other means, there are other options as well! Organise a donor drive in your company or Institutes of Higher Learning, or raise funds for the programme or just be an outreach advocate!
Featured image photo credit: Tan Yan Ling (Facebook)
To my friends and family: Thanks for your well-wishes, you guys have been extremely supportive. Some called me a hero for going through the operation and potentially saving someone, but to me, it is an easy decision to make. If I have the ability to change the world, even just for one bit, why squander the opportunity and deny others a fighting chance? Everyone has the ability to help someone, even for the unknown passerby.
Update (17/7 12.30pm):
Some photos taken after the operation:
On pain management: Surprisingly, I woke up with just a dull sore on my lower back. I have yet to touch the painkillers, Arcoxia and Panadine, that was prescribed by my doctor. Walking up the stairs is an issue though. It felt as though I had run a half-marathon yesterday (Yes, I ran 21km before) when I climbed the stairs up to HackerspaceSG this morning. Other than that, pain is just a dull sore on my back.
Update (17/9 12.30am):
I did an interview with Channel 8’s Morning Express show!
Last update (mid 2015):
According to BMDP, the recipient had recovered.
And commenters on Facebook went ape-shit.
Reading the article on CNA’s website, I would say it is just poor reporting:
Nominated Member of Parliament Laurence Lien on Monday (July 7) suggested to the Finance Ministry and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to consider releasing the funds in dormant accounts for charitable uses, in order to better make use of funds that have remained untouched for 15 years or so.
Mr Lien brought up the example of the United Kingdom, which introduced such an Act to much success over the last six years.
The report didn’t provide information on the Act that UK introduced. What makes it popular? No way a person in his right mind would give up his money, even if the account is dormant!
So apparently, there are provisions in the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008 that UK introduced that allow people to claim back their money in full, even after the money has been transferred out from their accounts. The claim would be done against the central fund rather than the banks.
A quick search on the Internet found multiple UK banks and associations with help pages to assist people in claiming back money from their accounts. Also, the banks trace for the account holders before declaring the account dormant and transfer the money for charitable uses.
One way to look at the Act is that the government wants the cash to be back in the economy in one way or another, rather than sitting there dormant in the banks. By declaring to the public that they (the government) will seize the cash if they don’t spend it, they are providing the public a motivation to look for their dormant cash and hopefully the public will spend them.
What Laurence Lien did was suggesting the local government to emulate UK. Yes, some of the dormant accounts may be retirement accounts that people choose not to touch. However, in that scenario, citizens would respond to the tracing efforts of the banks (if any) and make sure the account is active. Re-activating a suspended account would take time, and if they do so then, it may be too late for their purposes. Also, it will be more comforting to the government if they know that the dormant money in these accounts will be eventually cycled through the economy.
Now, only if the reporter would take 20 minutes of his time, do a brief research into the Act and do a brief write-up on it.
This came up in my newsfeed on Facebook, through an anti-Pinkdot Facebook group:
I am one of those who takes a neutral stand in the issue of LGBT in Singapore. If there is a group of students who wants like-minded students, let them be, just as with religious groups in school. Same thing in the general society. There is always a space for everyone.
But some of the comments in the posts are kind of hilarious.
Let’s see… What if the LGBTs decides to counsel the straights out of their lifestyle? Sheeh, seriously.
Decorum? Yeah, sure. They just want to gather and share tips on surviving uni in their identities. Linking with LGBT agenda and pro-cannabis seems like a poor choice anyway. The last I check, Singapore is more tolerant of LGBTs than pro-cannabis.
Semantics, semantics… Oh bother.
But there are comments as well, calling for restraints. Kudos to them.
“Hold the fire! Let’s see what they have to offer!”
Anyway, this Facebook post reminded me of this YouTube gem that came out last year: