HOW MY CHARITY JOURNEY STARTED?
Since 1985 I had been telling the people that we all should come forward to contribute our ideas to bring Singapore where it should be and I assured them that the Government will not get us into trouble just because we contribute our ideas willingly. Since the 80s I had started my journey for Art to be part of living.
“You have only to work up imagination to the state of vision and a thing is done.” – William Blake
“Some people are lucky enough to be driven by a vision so powerful that it automatically sweeps all difficulties aside. The imperative to realize the dream is so great that from somewhere the resources are found to overcome what otherwise might seem to be insurmountable problems. And problems there are aplenty, no doubt – but because the vision beckons, they must be solved. And solved they invariably are.
Such is the potential of creative action and of the human spirit in its quest to find fulfillment.
Most of us will never know, perhaps, the extreme satisfaction of that ‘state of vision’ and will always smile wryly at Blake’s use of the word ‘only’. We might find challenge enough in living with imagination and with sufficient focus to keep more modest, less visionary, goals in sight.
But to know that such visionary states are possible is itself an inspiration and a comfort, and to aspire to work with imagination so that the tendency of life is upward and outward is likely to be enough to get us where we want to be – which is right here, right now, with a different view of the world in front of our eyes.”
“Today I am empowered by my imagination, inspired by the human capacity to envision”- Stephen Bowkett
Whatever I had done, I did it with the best of my ability and most of all I did it with passion and love from my soul. If you don’t try it out with the PAP government how far you can stretch the boundaries, you don’t know what can be changed and what can’t be changed? When I was an air hostess what I hated most was when people said that Singapore is an authoritarian state:( Maybe that is the reason why I have pushed myself over the limit to change this poor image about us.
Someone needed to push the OB marker further, if not forever it will stay where we were like in the 60, the 70s, 80s and even 90s thus make us stagnant as a nation especially mentally. We got to thank J.B. Jeyaratnam for all his sacrifices by making the first step to defiant the system and the rest are up to us who wish for greater changes in Singapore environment. And I did make the first step when I escaped from my ex-husband back to Singapore from the Middle East.
When I came back in late 1983 from the Middle East, I came to know a group of passionate arts people who were not happy with their situations in Singapore, because they were highly misunderstood by the Government, moreover they were not given the opportunity to participate and contribute ideas that will deem important to the artists. Most of them were Chinese educated and they felt that Singaporeans were not valued for their contributions by the Government especially those that concern arts development. Their dissatisfaction was with the authorities for not giving them the chance to play a bigger role and to participate in work abroad too. I suggested to them and said, “Why don’t we come together to do a charity show based on Art and entitled it ‘Art is the Future’ and present our proposal to the Government, instead of complaining all the time?” They laughed at my innocent because in Singapore society an individual is not recognized as a genuine contributor to society especially without a paper qualification because that will be the first thing they ask for.
Without walking the journey I really got no idea what they were talking about. Instead of encouraging you some of the civil servants discouraged you and some even chase you out of their door. When people called me naïve and gullible I understood now.
Before I embarked on this journey the artists had already told me not to waste my time because ordinary people were not allowed to host such charity event even how pure our intention might be because this was just the way Singapore worked – one of the rule and regulation. Moreover, they said that I was nobody in society and no one will trust me so why should the SSSS wanted to carry this responsibility with an unqualified person.
My artist’s friends told me that the civil servants were not here to mould young people to play a part in uplifting the spirit of the community. They said that don’t I know Singapore is created just for the ‘Elitists’? Of course, I knew, therefore I felt I needed to make the first step in changing the mindset of civil servants to help the Government to nurture the people from the ground. Unfortunately, their constant attitude was that they were paid to do their job and nothing more and nothing less. The social aspect was not on the agenda, as they believed this is the job for the Government and not them.
Well, my friends were definitely right in their assessment, my proposal was rejected by S.S.S.S. because she said that ordinary people could not host charity event especially from an individual. I wanted to see the director in charge but the staff said that she would not see people like me, as she was too busy. They advised me to go to the rich women clubs or others organization that got the authority to host such event.
She said that we must follow the system because with a heart it was not enough, as the Government got no trust in people like us. (Even when I volunteered to help the troubled teens in Red Hill, the lady in charge rejected me because I do not hold a paper qualification like a diploma in this field. On top of it she said that with my look I would not be suitable to handle the trouble kids. They judged a book by its cover and they will not give me the opportunity.) Below was my proposal for the charity even entitled ‘Arts is the Future’.
Singapore Society of Social Services
20 October 1983
‘Arts is the Future’
I wanted to grab this opportunity of Singapore twenty-five year’s anniversary to celebrate its tremendous growth and at the same time, I like to throw a charity buffet to collect the funds to be donated to the old folks home. This contribution to the society is my main concern but on the other hand, if permitted I would like to use this occasion to thank the man who has make our dream come true – A Clean and Beautiful Singapore. Can ordinary Singaporeans like us celebrate his sixty one birthday out of love and respect through this charity event?
This buffet function got a message to the people. Society is form by the people; therefore it is our duty to take care of the unfortunate who could not catch up due to the progress that left them behind. We just can’t leave them fence for themselves or forget them because they are not useful or helpful to the society. Are they not human like us? This world is so unfair, can’t the intellectuals and people like us who care breach this unfairness act. Must we always wait for the Government before we can get thing done in Singapore?
Though the world is unkind and greedy, but we still can try to show a little kindness and generosity to the people who have not much in life. How much can we eat and how much do we need to be satisfied, why not share with the people who need it more than us. I’m young and full of vibrant energy and I have friends who are willing to help me. I believe with true dedication and hard work towards my cause, I will be able to have my dream come true especially with the support of your organization to co-host this charity event with us.
This charity buffet dinner function funds collected will be strictly donated to the old folks home and for the arts exhibition I hope will bring in richer cultures of love and happiness to the fellow brothers and sisters. I always believe that the old folks are part of society’s responsibility to see that their old age will not be neglected; hence it is proper for us to give our every effort towards this cause.
With such tremendous speed in progress at time we tend to lose the real reason of survival. Therefore, it is very important for us from time to time, help society to remember that life is short, let give them a little and we can sleep well without a thought. How hard life drive us to survive, still we must have a heart for others to share, care, love and understanding are the most beautiful values in life.
1) Title – ‘Art Is the Future’
- a) Local artists and calligraphies with art exhibition and a book launching cum
charity buffet dinner.
2) Aim For The Function
- a) A target of $70,000 to be collected
- b) To celebrate Singapore 25 years anniversary
- c) All funds collected are donated to the old folks home. These funds will be
handle by the committee appointed.
3) Organizing The Whole Function
- a) Proposed by Sunflower Chong
- b) Co-host with the Singapore Society of Social Services.
- c) Working committee to be appointed by S.S.S.S.
4) Venue For The Function
- a) Mandarin Ballroom
5) Date For The Function
- a) September 7 1984
6) Highlight For The Function
- a) Local art and calligraphy exhibition
- b) Launching of a new book of poem entitle. “A gift of thoughts”
- c) Invite local artists and calligraphers to join the function
- d) All works sold at the function to be donated to old folks home
- e) The book of poem sold will be donated to S.S.S.S. to collect more funds for
the old folks home
7) Final Budget
Art Works (100 pieces) average $300 per piece – $30,000
700 tickets @ $125 per ticket – $87,500
Total – $117,500
Scrolls mounting and framing average $60 per piece – $6,000
Buffet Dinner Cost
Average $40 per person – $28,000
Rental of the Ballroom – $1,500
Workers – $200
Expenses – $2000
Programmes cost – $5,000
Total – $41,700
Total collection after the function is $75,800 only
8) Funds collected will be handle by the S.S.S.S.
We hope you could give us an opportunity to present our proposal to your good self. Looking forward in hearing from you.
There was no respond from them as the director refused to meet up with me. Somehow in early 1985 a friend of mine convinced me to help him in organizing a charity event on behalf of the Lioness Club, as he heard about my desire to raise fund for the old folks. I took this as a sign from the above that I should get involved in this project. This charity event was entitled ‘Purple Dream’ held by Lioness Club of Singapore to raise fund for the old folk home in Toa Payoh. The charity show was a flora fantasy and with this gathering and experience it had opened my eyes to the real society in Singapore. I had promised myself that this was going to be the first and the last charity event that I will ever get myself involved.
Everyone who had met me knew that I was a proud woman with great drive and determination to succeed. When I give a promised I will stick to my gun and make sure everything will be a success. I will leave my family and everything behind just for the success of the project. This was what had happened on this charity event. We almost lost $60,000, but I could not accept it as my name was involved, therefore I took control of the whole situation by giving order and direction and that upset the high society ladies, but not their husbands, they stand by me even their wives wanted to kick me out of the committee and refused to put even my photo on the magazine, but their husbands fight on my behalf.
When the artist and the ladies wanted me to be in the committee I refused strongly because I warned them that I got a very strong personalities and I care for the project success more than anything else and their reply was that this was the kind of people they wanted. Everything I touched must turn into gold and this was how I wanted the charity event to be remembered because I will give my soul in whatever I do, to touch people heart just like the project in the National Museum hosted by Goldman Sach when they donated three pieces of painting to the museum. For the charity event I have prepared my speech for the night and I hope to touch their soul that we need to care.
7 June 1985
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I take this opportunity to say a few words on this memorable occasion? The object of staging this flower fantasy show is of course, solely to raise fund for charity purposes. Besides, it is also our sincere expectation that, you our strong supporters, after enjoying the show, will be instilled with noble spirit that will give you the urge to do something more in future for the distressed and unfortunate fellow human beings. To realize our dream, we termed it as Purple Dream.
Purple Dream embraces the lofty qualities such as Peace, Unity, Realization, Purity, Love and Equality. With these exquisite qualities, they enabled men to pluck up courage to explore the frontier of imagination and creativity and do away with material encroachment and covetous desire for self-aggrandizement or fame. Penance and charity are cohesive qualities for this common cause. Now I shall elucidate the qualities for Purple dream, which I have enumerated just now.
Peace – An Universal prayer that embraces hope and offers the light.
Unity – Becoming one and time is the reduction of the number of infinity
Realization – To rise above duality of creation and to perceive the unity of the
creation was conceived of a man’s highest goal.
Purity – As innocence that resides in no sense.
Love – Displays nature’s economy and caring sharing the out ward way.
Equality – The part and parcel of life that offer mankind the answer for
DREAM – Is said to be blossomed courage constant to the soul.
I sincerely hope this floral fantasy show will convince you how important a part you can play, if only you care to share our views by making this beautiful dream becomes a reality. It is my unshakable belief that only through deep feeling and confidence in people we are able to communicate with meaning, thus overcoming all barriers and misunderstandings.