Strangers give out umbrellas, food, drinks

Strangers give out umbrellas, food, drinks

Seventy-one-year-old Mr Foh Keng Yin was moved to action when he saw scenes on television of people queueing for hours in the sun to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The director of metal fixtures supplier Yew Lee Metal Works bought 1,000 umbrellas from an industry partner for $3,000.

Yesterday, Mr Foh and three of his employees gave the umbrellas for free to people waiting in line near Cavenagh Bridge.

He said in Mandarin: "Giving them some respite from the hot sun is the least I can do."

His generosity was mirrored by acts of charity by hundreds of other individuals, some of whom were there on behalf of their companies.

Across the Padang field and its surrounding areas, they distributed free umbrellas, bottled water and even chicken pies to the thousands waiting in line.

About 20 staff volunteers from Temasek Holdings distributed ponchos and biscuits, and loaned out 30,000 umbrellas.

A company spokesman declined to reveal the cost, but said it was "a small gesture of support". Their efforts will continue until tomorrow night.

A grateful Mr Tan Ah Seng, 67, took shelter under an umbrella that he received as he waited for 1½ hours to enter Parliament House, where Mr Lee will lie in state until 8pm tomorrow.

"It's been quite helpful," said Mr Tan, smiling as he added: "I am almost near him (Mr Lee)."

Institute of Technical Education student Lloyd Lum, 21, who paid his respects to Mr Lee earlier in the morning, remembered how he felt while waiting in line, and thought that those behind him would feel thirsty.

So when he saw a Facebook post - by a creative agency he declined to name - calling for volunteers to give out packet drinks, the student signed up on the spot.

"The weather was getting hotter and I didn't think people wanted solid food. So I came back with drinks for them to hydrate themselves," said Mr Lum.

He plans to continue volunteering for the next few days. The agency has distributed 73,440 drinks so far.

Employees of Maybank, which has a branch next to the Fullerton Hotel, distributed 4,800 bottles of water. Drink supplier Vitagen also gave out chilled juices on Cavenagh Bridge, while plastics manufacturer Toyogo handed out 1,500 hand-held fans at the beginning of the queue at the Padang.

Some companies giving out bottled water declined to be named, saying they were not doing it for the publicity.

Hunger pangs were also addressed, with staff from Tiong Bahru Bakery and BreadTalk distributing pastries and buns.

Then there were Good Samaritan individuals such as Singapore Management University student Tan Eng Teck, 25, who, with four friends, distributed 14 boxes of cakes worth $300.

The cakes were bought with donations from friends and family.

At Cavenagh Bridge, a woman who declined to be named gave out three boxes of Oreo cookies, 40 bottles of iced water and 30 chicken pies. On how much it had cost her, she said: "It's not about the money."

The kind stranger explained to The Straits Times that she was born in Manila in the Philippines and moved to Singapore 12 years ago.

"I wanted to give back to the country that allowed me an education," she said, adding that she now runs a business and is in the legal profession.

Consultant Huang Hua Ming, 27, was touched by the kindness of strangers all around him.

"I'm heartened to see these random acts of kindness from people I don't even know. It makes me very happy," he said.

charyong@sph.com.sg

awcw@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 27, 2015.
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