4 reasons that made 2013 great

4 reasons that made 2013 great

It's the time of the year to celebrate the incredible wonder of life. Despite the hardships and challenges that abound everywhere, there is much in the human spirit that inspires, and makes the passing of the year an occasion to count our blessings.

It was a challenging year for Singapore, but there was also plenty to celebrate.

In this festive spirit, I can count at least four reasons why 2013 was a great year.

The list is a personal one because though it is about the big things that have happened here, I have also been fortunate to have had a personal experience with each of these developments.

•Doing good is doing better

When I spoke at the annual conference of the National Council of Social Service in August, I lamented the lack of civic action here, a conclusion I drew partly from several surveys done last year.

For example, when it comes to giving to charity and volunteering to help the less fortunate, Singapore was placed somewhere at the bottom of the world class, according to an international study called the World Giving Index last year.

In this year's survey, the results of which were released earlier this month, Singapore's overall standing improved significantly, moving up 50 places to 64th.

You might argue with the survey's methodology when the findings can change so much from one year to the next, but I think there is no question the country is moving in the right direction.

Though civil society activism here lags behind many societies, it is more vigorous today than before, a healthy sign that more Singaporeans are more concerned about matters beyond their own individual achievements.

2013 saw many individuals and organisations taking up all sorts of causes, from improving the environment to helping vulnerable foreign workers. Their efforts helped build a more rounded society and a stronger sense of community.

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