Typhoon aftermath: S'pore contributes medical supplies, drinking water

Typhoon aftermath: S'pore contributes medical supplies, drinking water

The Singapore Government has made a further contribution in kind to help with relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Tuesday, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam presented medical supplies and 17 tonnes of drinking water worth about $42,000 in total to Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz at the Philippine Embassy.

This is on top of the $200,000 the Government pledged to the Singapore Red Cross last week to kick-start its fund-raising efforts.

"The scale of the disaster is immense, and the pain, the sorrow and the grief that it has caused is huge," said Mr Shanmugam.

"Our hearts go out to our Filipino brothers and sisters."

He said the outpouring by Singaporeans has been tremendous, and that non-governmental organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief had swung into action.

Responding to criticism that the initial donation of $200,000 was too small, the minister said it was seed money and must be seen together with other forms of help Singapore has offered, such as the two C-130 transport planes which have been dispatched with supplies to the Philippines. One of the planes was also deployed for four days to support ferrying operations between Tacloban city and Manila.

"We went to the Philippines and asked them what it was they would need, because money is used to buy other things but we can cut this short and send the supplies direct," he added. "I think in these times, (what's) more important than money are supplies."

Asked if lessons could be gleaned on how to strengthen the ASEAN framework for coordinating disaster relief, Mr Shanmugam said minds were currently focused on providing help.

"I'm sure after, when we have time to catch our breath, the ASEAN headquarters will sit together and look at the event and how the assistance went and what can be done better."

At a joint press conference in Bangkok last Thursday, the Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers reportedly expressed frustration that ASEAN's response to the disaster has been slower than help from Britain and the US.

Ambassador Calaguian-Cruz thanked the Singapore Government and the communities here for their aid.

"Singapore's been one of the first to come to rescue the Philippines: They sent the two C-130s, one after the other," she said. "And really, it helped, (especially) in the initial stages of the operations, which were the more difficult stages."

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