As hospital and healthcare professionals and staff lead the fight against the COV19 virus (coronavirus) at the frontline, there have been reports of ugly Singaporeans (and members of the public) being unkind to these bravehearts.
Some staff have been abused, scolded, chided, shunned and even told not to use public transport, by members of the public.
It is utterly disgraceful that such things should happen to those who are literally holding the fort against the contagious disease which has killed more than 1,000 people in China.
Thankfully, these ugly, abusive people are in the minority, and more and more Singaporeans are coming out to counter this ugliness with encouragement and support for our healthcare staff.
One of these is law firm TSMP Law Corporation, an independent legal firm which is known for doing charitable work, and taking up pro bono cases for those who cannot afford to pay for legal advice and representation.
On Wednesday, 12 February, it posted on its Facebook page how one of its managing partners, Stefanie Yuen Thio (“Steff”) – who it says is currently on sabbatical – had read about the staff being ill-treated by some members of the public.
Ms Thio felt that Singaporeans should instead be showing their love and appreciation for the staff. So, she went into action and put out a rallying call on her social media platforms – LinkedIn and Facebook.
And in just 48 hours, the response from her friends and contacts enabled them to get to work immediately.
“A tsunami of support from fellow professionals, old friends and people who are barely connected hit her LinkedIn and Facebook messaging platforms,” TSMP says.
In those 2 hours, they managed to:
- Deliver 2,000 packets of halal snacks to the staff at the Singapore General Hospital. This was co-sponsored by Golden Duck, which is famous for its salted egg line of snack products.
- Organise bento lunch runs for hospital staff, which attracted more sponsorship for 100 catered lunches to be sent every weekday to the hospital to boost morale.
- Ms Thio also provided the seed donation for the Sayang Sayang Fund, a Community Foundation of Singapore Impact Fund set up to support those impacted by the epidemic. “With a target of S$500,000, half will be allocated to buying $5 taxi vouchers for tired hospital staff so that they get home in, quite literally, some Comfort.”
“Really heartening that the initiative to provide meals to hospital staff has been adopted by large Singapore real estate companies, who are working with their F&B tenants to sponsor 200 meals daily to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, starting from today, with other public hospitals to follow,” TSMP says.
What TSMP, and Ms Thio in particular, have done is entirely in line with its ethos as a law firm.
Established in 1998, with Ms Thio and Thio Shen Yi as joint Managing Partners, the firm has won accolades for its community-centred volunteer and philanthropy work which, as mentioned, include its pro bono legal assistance services. The latter has seen it take up capital cases, where in 2018 it managed to plead down a High Court case where the murder charge – which carries the death sentence – was reduced to one of culpable homicide.
In 2018, TSMP was awarded the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award, becoming the first law firm to receive it.
This was followed by the Law Society’s Volunteer of the Year Award for Large-Sized Law Practices in 2019.
The firm has also held charity events, and worked with Boys Town and the Muhammadya Boys Home, beside giving out bursaries to needy students.
“These are the things I would remember most about the last 20 years,” Ms Thio says in a video on the firm’s website.
“As a litigator, one of the things which I am really proud of,” says Mr Thio, a former president of the Law Society, “is the fact that we have done cases which have actually changed the law in favour of the disadvantaged. That is important, because it sets a long-lasting precedent for the rest of the cases to come.”
With such an ethos, it is no wonder that while TSMP brands itself as a boutique law firm which handles corporate cases worth billions of dollars, it is also known as the law firm with a heart.
“Bad news always travels faster, so anecdotes about poor behaviour will always command more attention,” TSMP says on its Facebook page, regarding the ugliness by some toward the hospital staff. “But the overwhelming generosity shown by Singaporeans and foreigners working on our shores, who were just looking for opportunities to help the community they call home, is the kind of collaborative spirit that gels us as a nation.”
In other words, a little heart, a bit of kindness, a small gesture, goes a long way, and show us for who we truly are.
You can donate to the Sayang Sayang Fund here.