S'pore Red Cross 'to help build resilient society'

S'pore Red Cross 'to help build resilient society'
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam (right) yesterday hosted lunch for Indonesian Red Cross chairman Jusuf Kalla, who is also the former vice-president of Indonesia. Yesterday also marked the launch of the inaugural Humanitarian Lecture Series, witnessed by delegates from 11 of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in South-east Asia, including those from Myanmar, Thailand and Brunei.

Singapore must be ready for emergencies such as the Little India riot by arming people with skills and knowledge so that they can take control when the need arises, said the head of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC).

"If there is any weakness in our society, it's that we have become very affluent and we have become very successful - which is not wrong."

But that might lead to "some sense of complacency", said Singapore Red Cross secretary general Benjamin William yesterday on the sidelines of a regional Red Cross event.

Mr Jagan Chapagain, director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Asia-Pacific, also warned against taking things for granted at the the
11th annual gathering for regional leaders of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

"It shows that even in the best and the most secure society, things can go wrong very quickly with a very small incident," he told reporters, referring to the Little India unrest last
December.

For its part, the SRC is focusing on building up first-aid capabilities and encouraging more people to donate blood, so medical emergencies can be quickly resolved, said Mr William.

So far, the Singapore Red Cross Academy has trained 38,000 people in first aid. The SRC aims to have "one first aider in every home", he said.

People should also be taught what to do during disasters so that they can respond swiftly, he added. And the country needs a strong network of volunteers who can be called on for help - both overseas and locally.

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