Singapore Red Cross (SRC) is sending nearly SGD 7 million (approx Rs 38 crore) to its counterpart in India for distribution to hospitals and medical institutions fighting the country's worst health crisis, its secretary general and CEO Benjamin Williams has said.
Williams received a SGD1 million cheque of donations collected by the Singapore Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and the Little Indian Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA). "Singaporeans have the heart to donate," said LISHA Chairman C Sankaranathan at the cheque presentation ceremony on Thursday.
"The plight of India is deeply saddening. We want to thank everyone who has pitched in to make a difference in the unprecedented crisis that India is facing." SRC is sending close to SGD7 million, collected under Indian COVID Relief Fund, to its counterpart in India, Williams told PTI on Thursday.
SICCI Chairman Dr T Chandroo said, “We want to thank every person who has given us their sacrificial and unwavering support to this fundraising initiative along with LISHA. It was very heartwarming to see how compassionate and selfless people have been in their contribution to help India.”
An 86-year-old Indian-origin physically-challenged lady, whose son has been recently retrenched, came forward to make a significant donation from her lifetime savings while Singapore Indian institutions including temples and societies supported the fund-raising cause, said Dr Chandroo.
"The effort is an enriching one and we are blessed to have the opportunity to support a worthy cause and save lives in India," he said of the SICCI-LISHA fundraising campaign.
Jimmy Mahtani, Managing Director, Baring Private Equity Asia Pte Ltd, said, “The rising number of COVID cases and fatalities in India have been heart wrenching, and the team at Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA) want to support the country during this difficult time. We are proud to support the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce COVID relief drive, providing critically important life-saving medical equipment, medicines and materials, in conjunction with the Singapore Red Cross Society and Temasek Foundation, to help those in need.”
Temasek Foundation of the state-owned investment group has been among the lead donors while Singapore Exchange gave SGD100,000 towards the relief fund.
Jeyakumar Janakaraj, Country Head, Adani Global Pte Ltd, added, “It is heart-breaking when we look at how the COVID-19 crisis is taking a toll on the people of India. Adani Singapore supports SICCI’s India COVID-19 Relief Fund as it is a great and timely initiative to provide critical medical needs for India. This is just a small part of what we can do.
"More importantly, pooling our resources across community groups in Singapore and working with the Singapore Red Cross ensures equipment and medication are rapidly deployed to where it is needed most. We will continue to aid relief efforts for India and hope India will be able to overcome this health crisis soon," said Janakaraj.
People from all walks of life including housewives and taxi-drivers made their contributions at donation boxes placed in the Little India precinct, a thoroughfare for Indians here, added LISHA advisor Rajkumar Chandra.
Highlighting the month-long donation drive, Chandra said the Singapore businesses were also missing workers from India as the Singapore economy recovers and demand for workforce increases.
"There is a minimum shortage of 100,00 workers, many of whom have returned to India," said Chandra, adding that there is a need to bring back workers as normalcy returns following recovery from COVID-19 induced slowdown.
Stakeholders in Singapore’s construction industry have recently appealed to the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force to allow foreign workers to enter Singapore “in a safe and controlled manner”.
The Construction Industry Joint Committee (CIJC) said that the current manpower situation may result in further delays to construction projects and could cause jobs to be lost in the industry, and has asked the Government “to adopt a balanced approach and work with industry to allow the recruitment and inflow of foreign manpower”.
the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) issued on May 14, the built environment industry understands and supports the Government’s efforts to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 cases amidst the emergence of new virus variants in Singapore,” CIJC said in a media release.
“However, we have serious concerns about the acute manpower situation for the construction industry,” Channel News Asia quoted CIJC in its recent report.
Singapore has suspended entry for long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to India since April 24. This includes those who transit in India. Those with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also been barred from entering or transiting in Singapore since May 2. CIJC said that the shortage of manpower is leading to issues with workplace safety.
“The complexity and nature of construction work necessitate the deployment of workers from various trades, and the current reduced workforce is already working at maximum capacity, increasing the risks of workplace incidents,” it said.
“We are suffering from reduced productivity due to safe management measures at the worksites and many of our migrant workers plan to return home when their work permits expire.”