A Tribute To Grassroots Leaders.

by Patrick Liew on January 28, 2013

As we go through the routines of the day and sleep in the comfort and security of our homes, there is a group of people that have worked hard and are working hard to serve us.

They are volunteers in the People Association. We call them grassroots leaders.

Many of these volunteers make personal sacrifices of time, energy and even money to provide all kinds of services to residents, many of which we are not aware of but are vital to our well being.

They help to strengthen the community and make Singapore, one of the most admired countries in the world.

Like any organisation, there are some black sheep among them. However, by and large, most of them volunteer out of a good heart and with positive intentions.

They do not seek any personal rewards or recognitions. In fact, their services oftentimes affect their work and life.

Yet, they live through it and continue to work hard for all of us.

In the era of the ‘new normal’ (or abnormal?), many of them  have also suffered more than their unfair share of criticism and abuse. These negative responses came from both within their organisations and without.

Sad, but true.

Grassroots leaders work with the government to help unite the people. They help to harness their talents, energy and contributions  ‘so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress’ for one and all, regardless of ‘race, language or religion.’

Many people from both Singapore and overseas would be delightfully surprised about the plan, programmes and performance of many of these grassroots leaders.

It is hard within this short space to enumerate all their good work. They include looking after our estate and improving the neighbourhood.

They help to build positive relationships so that residents can deepen their roots, enjoy their lives and make better contributions to our nation. They also organise activities to bridge and bond communities.

One common saying among some grassroots leaders is that they are serving so as “to build beautiful memories” for us.

Recently, I attended the wake of an elderly lady. On some of the walls, the family had put up photographs of the happy times that she had spent participating in grassroots’ activities.

They included visiting many interesting places and even playing with a go kart in a safe environment.

While I felt sad for the loss of a fellow human, I was grateful to yet another group of grassroots volunteers who have contributed to another life.

This is just an example of why leaders from many parts of the world have tried to model after our grassroots organisations. They have attempted to replicate our systems in their countries but to no avail.

To do so, they need, as my friends from an emerging economy would say, “A good government, clean leaders and service-oriented people.” These are some of the foundational values that made our grassroots organisations and society great.

Singapore owes part of her success to these grassroots leaders. We should be grateful for their sacrifices, efforts and contributions.

Majulah Singapura!

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