SINGAPORE - Kindness is alive and well in Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Wednesday amid an ongoing debate on whether the country lacked compassion.
Attached to his post was a photo of six-year-old Rowan Chua sharing a priority seat with an older woman on the train.
The boy, who had sent the picture to Mr Lee, included the words: "There are compassionate people in Singapore. See? This elderly woman even shared half her seat with me."
Mr Lee said that being kind goes beyond giving up seats, and extends to "adopting a mindset of being considerate and sensitive to others' needs", and showing appreciation in the face of kindness.
"Better still, pay it forward. Rowan's message made me smile, just like the elderly woman who shared her seat with him put a smile on Rowan's face. Do something nice for someone today, and put a smile on their face!" he wrote.
Mr Lee also thanked those who had written in to share their experiences in response to his post on Sunday on graciousness.
He had written then that even as Singapore has made progress in levels of courtesy and kindness over the years, it "can still do much better".
His message was sparked by a BBC commentary from freelance writer Charlotte Ashton over the weekend.
She described how, during her 10th week of pregnancy, she was nauseous and had to crouch for 15 minutes in an MRT train as no one had offered her a seat.
The expatriate concluded that Singapore suffered from a "massive compassion deficit", eliciting strong reactions from the public.
At a separate event on Wednesday, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said he thought Singapore had become more gracious, but has "some distance to go".
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.