The Rotary Club of Singapore is going ahead with a plan to help retrofit old toilets in Hougang, but dismissed suggestions that it was linked to political intentions.
The club had raised eyebrows last week when it said it would raise $100,000 to support a scheme by People’s Action Party candidate Desmond Choo.
The announcement, which came during the Hougang by-election campaign, prompted some to question its timing.
But the club’s president Kumar Tapan Rao told The Straits Times on Monday: ‘The Rotary Club is not making any donation to any political party. We are raising funds for a project to help the elderly in Singapore.‘
All of the $100,000 will go towards the cost of upgrading squat toilets to sitting ones, he said.
Mr Choo has raised enough funds to cover 30 homes, and the $100,000 will cover 50 more.
On Sunday, former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock had in a Facebook post commented on the club’s move, saying that the cause was ‘noble’ but ‘the reason and timing for the donation is misplaced’.
‘Giving money to a politician for a good cause during a political election campaign is venturing into the political arena,’ he noted.
The chairman of the Foundation of Rotary Clubs, Mr David Tong, has clarified that its constitution bans members from taking part in any political activity in the name of their clubs. There are 22 Rotary Clubs in Singapore, each one operating autonomously.
On Monday, Mr Tapan Rao said the political dimension had not crossed his mind. He had not even met Mr Choo before, he added. ‘At the end of the day, if we can get a new toilet for one old lady, I am honoured and gratified.’
As for Mr Choo, when asked if the funds should have gone to the MP instead, he replied that they should go to any good programme, ‘whether it is run by an MP or somebody else or a resident’. He said: ‘As long as it is a good programme that people can believe in, that benefits people, then the funding should go to them to run it.’
By Rachel Chang
email@example.com , StraitsTimes, Published on May 29, 2012
Why didn’t WP try to work with charitable organizations or individual to bring community projects to their residents?
~ Fabrications About The PAP