Sometime last month, a friend of mine who’s on social welfare received a letter from the Singapore Buddhist Lodge (SBL), inviting him to attend their premises on February 7th for a ‘hongbao’ presentation. Since he’s Chinese, I assumed that this was a normal but nevertheless welcome occasion.

So fast forward to the 7th, and I brought him there. He was told to bring along his ‘Public Assistance Card,.’ and if he couldn’t make it, either he or his representative could attend on the 9th. I was shocked when I arrived there. Thinking it was a ‘small scale event’ just for a selected number of recipients. rather this was a major operation. The SBL did not just invite devotees or its members, it opened its doors for the whole of Singapore!

Yes, there were PA card holders from the length and breath of the island. And not only that, they opened their doors to all Singaporeans, regardless of race or faith. They invited other religious bodies like Jamiyah and some Indian groups too. You could see Malays, Indians as well as Chinese, and non-Buddhist all invited to receive the donation.

And it was a mammoth thing, they deployed hundreds of volunteers and had to pour through thousands of documents in order to ensure everyone got a red packet. And the amount wasn’t paltry either. They gave everyone $250. Multiply this amount by the thousands and you’ll realise, we are not talking of small amounts here. It probably ended up in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even over the million dollar mark.

So I like to say well done and a big thank you to Singapore Buddhist Lodge. And to their staff, donors and volunteers. The staff for coordinating and planning the event, the volunteers and them for sending the letters out, putting the monies into the packets and managing the crowds. And the Lodge and its donors for their generosity.

As we celebrate 50 years of independence, this is a shining example of racial harmony, goodwill and tolerance. The SBL didn’t have to do it, but they did. They would be well within their rights to cater this only for their members and devotees, but they extended it to everyone even non-Buddhists. So good on them for doing it.

And on this happy note, I would to wish everyone especially Chinese Singaporeans, a Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year.

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