Speech by MOS Zaqy Mohamad at the Good Neighbour Award Ceremony 2019

Jun 1, 2019 19:00

A very good evening. I am really happy to join you here today to recognise the amazing people in our neighbourhoods.

Our homes are special to us not only because they are modern flats, not only because of the infrastructure; we treasure our homes because of the people who live in our communities – our family members, our neighbours, and our friends who are key to building an endearing home, and cultivating a community spirit which makes our homes special. 

Making a Difference to Your Community
Indeed, many of our neighbours are actively making a difference to the lives of those around them, some of them in their own interesting way. Through their thoughtful acts and kindness, their neighbourliness have shaped our estates into homes that we cherish.

That is why we launched the Good Neighbour Award in 2009 – to honour our exemplary neighbours who have gone the extra mile, to positively impact those around them. I’m glad to hear that the movement has been warmly received. In the past 10 years, we received a total of close to 17,000 nominations from residents whose lives were touched by these kind Samaritans. We received over 3,000 nominations for students, HDB and non-HDB residents for exemplary behavior this year. This is extremely heartening – it is a record number of nominations – and a huge step up from the 500 nominations we got back in 2009. 

Good Neighbour Award Recipients
What makes a good neighbour? Contrary to what many of you may think, you do not need to do something out of the ordinary to be a good neighbour. Often, it is the ordinary things that impact people in the most extraordinary ways. 

One good example of a good neighbour is Madam Rasamal. Affectionately known as Aunty Rose by her neighbours, she has demonstrated that age is no barrier to living out the spirit of neighbourliness. Aunty Rose is 82 years old, and she takes care of other elderly neighbours, making it a point to visit and share food with them, and invite them to communal events in the area. When one of her neighbours was hospitalised for over five months, she visited him regularly, and kept a lookout for his house whenever his daughter accompanied him at the hospital. We certainly need more neighbours like Aunty Rose whom we can depend on in times of need!

Another example is 17-year old Ivan, who has brought together neighbours with a common passion in cycling. Two years ago, Ivan decided to start a cycling interest group after he noticed several cycling enthusiasts in his neighbourhood. He organised weekly night-cycling activities, which he called “Fast Fridays” – a play on how fast time seemed to pass whenever they cycled together. Ivan also actively assists his neighbours in repairing their bikes should they malfunction.

Beyond organising cycling activities, Ivan also invites his neighbours to his place for meals, sometimes up to three times a week. Through Ivan’s efforts, the group of cyclists have forged lasting brotherly bonds, while spurring each other on in their cycling journey. Ivan’s initiative in bringing neighbours together is what we need to form stronger neighbourhood communities.

Yet another recipient, who demonstrates that age is no obstacle to being a good neighbour, is 8-year old Sahanna. Last year, Sahanna noticed smoke emitting from her neighbour’s flat, and immediately sprang into action to call the Police and the SCDF. Armed with quick-thinking and courage, she remained calm and composed, and was able to provide the exact address as well as a clear assessment of the situation over the phone.

Sahanna’s brave and prompt actions ensured that the authorities arrived in time to put out the fire before it went out of hand, saving her neighbour’s flat from being badly damaged. Sahanna is indeed a good role model to her fellow young neighbours.  

Aunty Rose, Ivan, Sahanna and the rest of our Good Neighbour Award recipients are regular folk whom we see in our neighbourhoods. It is these everyday heroes and heroines who have made extraordinary contributions to their community, and helped make the community a better place to live in. I hope their stories will inspire more of us to follow in their footsteps, to create more cohesive communities, and continue to make our neighbourhoods a special place for everyone. Thank you to all Good Neighbour Award recipients for making our neighbourhoods a better place to live in!

Lastly, I would also like to thank our two new members of the enhanced judging panel of the Good Neighbour Award 2019. This year, we have done it slightly differently – we have included past winners into the panel. We have included Madam Mahani and Ms Shereen Ng, who were both recipients of the Good Neighbour Award in 2017, who graciously agreed to join our existing judging panel this year. I would like to applaud them for taking time to join us in recognising another cohort of Good Neighbour Award recipients. 

So ladies and gentlemen, everyone has a part to play in creating a better living environment and progressing together as a cohesive and resilient community. Remember, gracious living and harmonious community starts with each of us.  It does not matter if our contributions are big or small. Be the one to take the first step. Get to know your neighbours, make friends, and help where you can. Congratulations once again to all the recipients of this year’s Good Neighbour Award – and not forgetting those who were being nominated – and continue to keep up the great work!

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, and have a good weekend!