OCBC Bank and staff will donate an additional S$1,225,000 in its fourth tranche of support to the community dealing with hardships arising from the coronavirus outbreak. This fourth tranche of donations will be used to help needy Singaporean families as well as the migrant workers under isolation due to the enhanced Circuit Breaker measures.
The first three tranches were made earlier this year to support frontline healthcare workers, vulnerable seniors and families who needed food, vitamin supplements, cleaning kits and cleaning services and affected communities in China.
Adding to this fourth round of corporate donation of S$1 million, staff from OCBC Bank and Bank of Singapore came forward to contribute S$225,000 in response to the urgent call to offer help. In total, OCBC Bank Group and its employees have donated close to S$2.2 million to help communities in the ASEAN region and Greater China that are affected by the virus outbreak.
Many generous donors in Singapore have been providing meals to needy Singaporean families and migrant workers so far. To ensure that OCBC Bank’s support does not duplicate the help given so far, the Bank proactively reached out to more than 20 charity organisations, non-government organisations (NGOs) and dormitory operators over the past two weeks – to understand the plight and needs of these two groups. This way, in line with the #OCBCCares programme, OCBC Bank can provide targeted help to address gaps.
OCBC Bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer Samuel Tsien said: ‘The coronavirus outbreak has been unprecedented in both the disruption caused to economies worldwide and the hardships unleashed on the lives of countless people. The vulnerable ones among us have been the hardest hit. The government stepped in quickly to support this group of Singaporeans with extraordinary measures under the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets. In a modest way, we have been trying to do our part too. With the impact of the outbreak expected to last throughout this year, we are making a fourth tranche of our support to help supplement the government payouts to needy families. This will hopefully help tide them over the next 6 to 7 months as I do hope and expect some stability returning – though not yet a strong recovery by any means – before 2020 winds down.’
‘A second vulnerable group is the migrant workers. Their plight, as captured in media reports, has touched many hearts. The workers’ needs, however, are very different from the needy families. They are not short of food or masks, as those are well taken care of by the government and other donors, but most of them are cooped up in their rooms as part of the circuit breaker measures or are being isolated. They tell us that they would like to have some simple items to create some variety during this isolated period. Some workers long for a simple cup of coffee or tea; they would appreciate oil and rice from their hometowns for the cooking they do in their basic kitchens in the rooms, and additional cleaning agents for their enhanced cleaning regimes in their own bathrooms. Make no mistake. Hardy folks like these workers have helped build Singapore and make it what it is today. They remain part of the fabric of our community and we are glad that we can provide some comfort to them during this difficult time.’
Support for Needy Singapore Families
Many of the breadwinners from needy families are daily-rated casual workers without benefits, who have lost jobs. They are now struggling to provide for their children and parents living with them, due to the enhanced Circuit Breaker measures. OCBC Bank will support 1,000 needy Singaporean families by providing each family with $800 in supermarket vouchers. Additional vouchers will be given to families who require more help. The vouchers will enable these families to obtain necessities such as fresh foods, stationery and medicine to supplement the government cash payouts and the packed meals they receive from individual donors and NGOs. The families that OCBC Bank will support come under the care of Beyond Social Services, Care Corner Singapore, Food from the Heart, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore).
Mr Hazme who lives with his wife and five children in a rental flat in Jalan Kukoh is happy that his family is one of 1,000 who will be receiving the vouchers. He said, “Besides food, there are other things that my children need – such as T shirts to replace those they have outgrown, stationery to do their homework, and even medicine when they fall sick. With OCBC’s vouchers, I am able to provide these for my family. I am thankful.”
A quote from Mr Gerard Ee, Executive Director of Beyond Social Services can be found in Annex A
Support for Migrant Workers
OCBC Bank reached out directly to various dormitory operators to understand if there were unfilled gaps – on top of the outpouring of generous support that has been offered to migrant workers over the past few weeks. The feedback was that the workers appreciate the prepared meals they receive three times daily and the masks that have been donated. The workers need additional personal protective equipment as they help with food delivery and the stepped-up cleaning regime. They also need personal necessities, vitamin C, oil and rice that they would otherwise have to leave the dormitories to buy using their own salaries.
OCBC Bank will support about 55,800 migrant workers living in nine dormitories across Singapore as well as the OCBC Arena at the Singapore Sports Hub – to help make their period of isolation more bearable. The nine dormitories are Tuas South Dormitory, TAC Alliance Pte Ltd, Prestige Resources Pte Ltd, Sungei Tengah Lodge, Westlite Toh Guan, Westlite Papan, Westlite Woodlands, Westlite Mandai and Westlite Juniper.
The smallest of the three dormitory operators that will receive support is Nexus Point Investments Pte Ltd with 9,000 workers. The second company is Centurion Corporation which manages five dormitories with a current physical occupancy of 21,000 workers. The third company, TG25 Pte Ltd, manages Sungei Tengah Lodge which houses 25,000 workers.
As the needs across these dormitories vary, OCBC Bank will provide support in three areas – foods, additional personal protective and cleaning equipment and personal necessities.
28-year old Mr Rana Md Habibullah, a Bangladeshi worker who lives in an apartment unit managed by Centurion Corporation at Westlite Toh Guan was delighted to hear that OCBC Bank will be providing all the units in his block with the familiar oil, chilli, cumin and fennel powders he uses to cook his curries. ‘Each time I cook using these ingredients, it reminds me of my family at Gazipur. I am grateful for the packed food that we have been receiving. But my friends and I prefer to cook our own dishes using our own types of oil and spices. Now we cannot get these items because we cannot leave our dormitories.”
38-year old Murugan, who lives in one of the units at the Lodge, was glad to collect the disinfectants that OCBC Bank has donated. He said, “While the dormitory operator cleans the common areas of the Lodge, we have to buy our own cleaning detergents and equipment to clean the inside areas. We know we must keep our living place clean because of the virus. Now that I have the detergent from OCBC, I can save a little more money – and send more money to my family.”