Singapore—A panel will be debating on who exactly are the country’s “privileged” and whether they should be giving back to society because they have more in life. The panel will deliberate next month, in the hopes of coming up with concrete ideas to encourage generosity.

The panel is organised by The Straits Times (ST) along with the Singapore Kindness Movement. Two social workers, a professor of sociology, and the leader of a philanthropic foundation will take part in the debate, and will also be looking into what government, businesses, and non-governmental organisations should be doing, as well as what can be done to encourage the increase in donations, volunteerism, and philanthropy.

Moderating the panel, which is scheduled for July 2, is Han Fook Kwang, the editor-in-chief of ST. Members of the panel include Paulin Straughan, Singapore Management University Professor of Sociology (Practice); T. Ranganayaki, the deputy executive director of Beyond Social Services’; Laurence Lien, the chairman of Lien Foundation; and ST’s Singaporean of the Year 2017, Goh Wei Leong, who is the co-founder of Healthserve.

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According to Beyond Social Services’ T. Ranganayaki, “Privilege need not mean money… just being there for your neighbour helps. Pause and ask yourself: Am I better off than others, in any way? Then give to them in that way.”

By July 3, ST will feature a summary of the panel discussion on its website and print editions. By the following Sunday, July 7, there will be more detailed coverage of the panel, as well as a video of the discussion.

The panel will be discussing if the privileged in Singapore should actually be practicing more generosity and the ways in which they can do so, or if giving is borne out of one’s own desire on the basis of his or her beliefs.

According to its Facebook page, the mission of the Singapore Kindness Movement is “to help build a gracious Singapore” by aiming “to encourage the individual to internalise courtesy, kindness, and consideration.”

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The non-government organization (NGO)’s mission statement is: To inspire graciousness through spontaneous acts of kindness, making life more pleasant for everyone.

And finally, its objectives are threefold. To encourage all Singaporeans to be kind and considerate, to create public awareness of acts of kindness, and to influence and raise the standards of behaviour and responsibility.

According to William Wan, the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, “With self-awareness, empathy, and contentment with what we have, we can be more conscious, deliberate and specific in our giving back… together, we can be greater.”

ST reports that Singapore entered the list of top 10 most generous countries for the first time in 2018. In 2017, it had ranked 30th.

In the British charity Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2018, Singapore ranked 7th out of 140 countries in all, with a marked increase in the number of individuals who have helped a stranger or volunteered for charitable activities.

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Giving in Singapore has exceeded S$150 million as of last Tuesday, June 25, according to a report from national charity portal giving.sg./ TISG

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