As far back as early February 2020, hundreds of People’s Association volunteers were out there at 89 community centres and 654 RC centres all over Singapore to distribute surgical masks to 1.3 million households in Singapore. At that time there was a shortage of masks. To help calm the mood, the Government took from its stockpile, 5 million surgical masks to distribute to Singaporeans. Each household received 4 masks.
These volunteers were there during the first distribution of reusable masks to all residents in early April. They were also there during the second distribution of an improved reusable mask to all residents in May and early June last year.
As community partners with Temasek, PA volunteers helped to mix, bottle and distribute free hand sanitiser to every household as part of Temasek’s BYOBclean initiative.
On quarantine or under SHN with no support from families, neighbours or other parties? People’s Association volunteers were there to assist these in the buying of groceries and other necessities. This was before the time of dedicated facilities for SHN.
Checking up on vulnerable persons living alone during this pandemic? Yup, the volunteers were there too.
Collecting your TraceTogether token from a community centre? That’s right. The PA volunteers are there to help you.
Setting up of vaccination centres in every town in Singapore to make it convenient for everyone and especially the elderly, to have their vaccination? Yes, the PA and their volunteers are involved too.
Vaccination will start for seniors living in Tanjong Pagar and Ang Mo Kio on 27 Jan 2021. Many seniors living there have received invitation letters to take the vaccine. Hundreds of community volunteers from PA are on hand to speak with the seniors, or visit them in their homes, to explain to them what the vaccination is all about and how it protects them, to answer queries and to help them book their appointments.
At the forefront of nation-building
The COVID-19 crisis has pushed the role that People’s Association plays in nation-building to the forefront. At a moment’s notice, they are there, rising to the occasion. This has allowed needs to be met fast and kept Singapore united as one people.
The work they do is not glamorous but necessary. It is time politicians stop ‘politicising’ PA or call for its ‘depoliticisation’ because there is nothing political in the work done by PA and their volunteers.
PA is a statutory board and its volunteers come from all walks of life with different political inclinations. It executes the directions for the government of the day as per any statutory board – like distributing masks and tokens in a time of need.
Some opposition politicians look for a title because they think they stand to gain from the title. They want the title of ‘grassroots advisor’. That is a self-centred desire. They are looking out for their own political fortunes. PA – or People’s Association – is not about the politician. It’s about people.