Perks For Volunteering

When I think of being a volunteer, I’m reminded of that time I spent in Batam on an overseas service learning trip. We painted the walls of an orphanage and installed a bathroom — badly.

Even though some of us had no choice as our schools made it compulsory, our intentions were pure — all we wanted to do was to help out and to brighten up the days of those we were serving.

Basically, volunteering should come from the heart and the volunteer shouldn’t have any ulterior motives.

Sadly, it seems that some don’t understand the true meaning of volunteerism.

Residents’ Committee ‘Volunteers’

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, a politician from the Workers’ Party, was doing a walkabout around the Fengshan neighbourhood and conducting house visits when he chanced upon a tag on a door knob that bemused him.


Apart from an egregious grammatical error in the first sentence (Who is *eligible to be…), the tag contained details regarding the recruitment of residents to be a Residents’ Committee volunteer, offering perks like special HDB parking labels and Primary One (Phase 2B) registration benefits in a bid to tempt residents to sign up.

Singaporeans are suckers for goodies and freebies, but it remains to be seen how effective this carrot-dangling scheme will be in securing more volunteers.

Mr Gerald Giam wasn’t buying it though.


Once special privileges are on offer for volunteering services, should the people volunteering still be considered volunteers? It sounds more like a job than anything else.

Netizens React

Mr Giam’s Facebook post received over 200 likes and shares, and a ton of snarky comments from vexed netizens.

Generally, netizens found the idea of receiving “perks” for volunteering just ridiculous.


After all, volunteer work should be carried out by people who genuinely want to serve the community.


It’s not uncommon for kiasu parents to volunteer just to ensure their children secure a spot in a desirable school.

But if as the Ministry of Education says, every school is a good school, is there even a need for primary one registration benefits?


Remember when netizens reacted strongly after PM Lee remarked that Singapore belongs to all who live here, including permanent residents and work permit holders?

Well, this guy could’ve been part of that enraged group as he’s definitely salty about PRs potentially being able to have more benefits than us in certain areas.


Spirit Of Volunteerism

Volunteering should be carried out based on one’s own goodwill, and not for a reward of any sorts.

The whole idea of the spirit of volunteering is to serve others without expecting anything in return. After all, hearing those we serve laugh and seeing them beam with joy after all our efforts is way more fulfilling than receiving a special carpark label.

If it is thought that people won’t volunteer at all unless given benefits, then the whole attitude of Singaporeans needs to be addressed.

Featured image from Facebook and Facebook