Record of Interview with Chairman Toh Soon Huat by Little Master Reading Club
Record of Interview with Chairman Toh Soon Huat by Little Master Reading Club
Little Master: Chairman Toh, I’m Little Reporter Liu Xihan, from Little Master Reading Club. Thank you for taking my interview to help our little readers to learn about Sian Chay Medical Institution and what it does. May I ask, is it difficult to practice philanthropy?
Chairman Toh: It’s very difficult to practice philanthropy. Actually, it is difficult to do anything. We have to persist whole-heartedly, to contribute sincerely, and to practice seriously and to continuously review and improve.
Little Master: Who founded Sian Chay over a century ago?
Chairman Toh: Over 100 years ago, many people from Southern China immigrated to Singapore, group by group. Making a living in China at that time was really difficult, so they came out and hoped to make money and sent money back to improve their living quality or to raise the whole family. The early immigrants from Southern China were mostly from Fujian and Chaozhou areas. After their immigration to Singapore and settling down, the followers coming next were in difficulty and poverty. Thus, the early comers raised some money to establish Sian Chay Medical Institution to help those unemployed and sick newcomers. The living environment wasn’t as good as it is now and could cause disease easily. The southern residents of China easily got sick as weather in Singapore was hot. Thus, Sian Chay Medical Institution was established to take care of these people.
Little Master: Why did you work so hard to open so many branch clinics?
Chairman Toh: We open more branch clinics in order to take care of more elderly residents as there are quite a few low-income residents in Singapore while living costs in Singapore is quite high. We hope to help the elderly to keep healthy, to live longer and to have a happier life. Why did I open so many branch clinics? It’s totally different to help 5 persons, 50 persons or 500 persons in a day. If possible, we should open more branch clinics with our capability and wisdom, should do more and better deeds and should take care of more people. I open so many branch clinics so as to help those physically or mentally challenged people with positive energy in a period of time as short as possbile.
Little Master: Patients are entitled to medical care at Sian Chay with only $1.5 or $3. But having care at other clinics will cost me much more money. Why is that?
Chairman Toh: This is so called charity. Charity is a joint effort. Those social personages who are willing to contribute put their money somewhere to take care of the public with profession management by designated people. Consultation at Sian Chay is totally free of charge. Medication, or even tuina therapy, is also free for elderly over 65 years old. For elderly aged from 60 to 65, consultation is free and medication is only $1.5. For those under 60 years old, consultation is free too, while medication is $3. Similar services at other clinics will cost $40-50. Why is ours so cheap? As we believe “From the society, For the society”. A group of benevolent people devote their fund or labour to help those poor people, hoping them to save the cost on medical care and spend those for the family to improve their diet and living environment.
Little Master: Does it cost a lot of money to maintain the operation of Sian Chay? How if it goes out of money?
Chairman Toh: It is really not an easy job to run Sian Chay. The annual cost needed is $6 million. I work voluntarily without pay. Why? As it will increase the cost of Sian Chay if I get paid. My current job is to manage the daily operation of Sian Chay, as well as to raise funds by attending fund-raising activities from time to time. How if Sian Chay runs out of money? We’ll announce to the public and let all know that Sian Chay is in crisis. We’ll tell them openly and ask for their support. So far, Sian Chay is still manageable. However, it depends on our team and me, on our continuous efforts and devotion to look for financial support.
Little Master: Sian Chay needs support from all social sectors. How does it obtain the support?
Chairman Toh: Put yourself into other’s shoes. You must be sincere, open and persistent if you want something to be acknowledged by all social sectors. You must make proper arrangements for everything and be compassionate. Also, you must keep your promise. Now we have obtained the social support as I work voluntarily and I treat everyone sincerely, to social personages, to patients, to staff, to the responsibility that I bear. It is the social rule that people will step out to support you if they see you do a good job. Therefore, I really appreciate the support and acknowledgement from the society so far and I believe they will give Sian Chay more and more support as Sian Chay has gained its scale and wide acknowledgement from patients and the public.
Little Master: Chairman Toh, since the beginning of your taking over of Sian Chay, you got many bros and friends willing to help you. Why is that?
Chairman Toh: I am 58 years old now. Since I entered the society since my 15-year-old, it was my life value to treat people brotherhood, sincerity and seriousness. In these decades of years, I run a business, and I contributed my money and labor to the society as much as I can. I help people in need with full efforts. That’s why they are willing to help me when I was in need as Executive President and Chairman of Sian Chay. It’s the rule of self-cultivation and mutual relationship. Thus, one must sincerely treat everyone, everything so that you’ll be rewarded with others’ sincerity when in need.
Little Master: You lived a poor childhood. How did you get rich later?
Chairman Toh: I lived a materially poor childhood, but not a mentally poor one. I became rich because of my efforts, sincerity, acknowledgement and my willing to devote. I am not in fact rich in my business, but living a slightly better life that others. I am rich in spirits and connotations instead. I’m not rich in wealth, but in my life view, in the acknowledgement I gained from the society, in my devotion and contribution to the society.
Little Master: Why did you decide to donate your earned wealth to the poor?
Chairman Toh: It’s because I’m capable of making money, while they don’t. They don’t know how to make money and they’re in deep poverty, being unable to afford medical care sometimes. I believe in “From the society, for the society”. Sharing part of the money earned from the society with those in need is a responsibility, reward, gratitude, universal love and compassion. I am more than happy to do that and I would like others to share the thoughts with me. We should work together with our capability, time, compassion with universal love, to share part of our ownings to take care of the residents and families in need for happier lives.
Little Master: Is it possible to practice philanthropy without money?
Chairman Toh: Philanthropy is not bonded to money. For example, you need to get up at 7AM as your work starts at 9AM, but you are willing to get up at 6AM to clean toilets in nearby nursing home, or to help the elderly in their daily living or washing and persist for 20 years. That is philanthropy. The real philanthropy is more and more concentration, more and more contribution, and more and more gratitude, nothing related to money.
Little Master: Is it possible for young kids to practice philanthropy?
Chairman Toh: Young kids can go to nursing home to sing for the elderly. As you have learnt about safety rules, you can help the elderly to safely cross the road while keeping yourself safe. You may also visit orphanage to make friends with orphans there and pass on positive energy to them. Or you may share your candies with them, become their best friends and bosom friends, which is also philanthropy.
Little Master: Last time I visited the zoo, I donated $2 for animal protection. I also participated in school fund-raising activities. Chairman Toh, are these philanthropic behaviors as well?
Chairman Toh: Philanthropy consists of two parts. One is donating money, which is charity. The other is doing good deeds. Doing good deeds depend on opportunities, which may not be carried out if no proper chance. But charity is different. It must be carried out at every moment. It requires contribution, gratitude, bearing at every moment. When we mention charity, it means devotion at any time.
Little Master: How many children do you have? Do you care most about their school scores?
Chairman Toh: I have four children who have all grown up. What I care most is not their school scores, but the principle as a human being. The most important thing is to be compassionate, positive and ready to help. They shall know how to take care of their own health, not harming lives, not harming other’s lives.
Little Master: How do you keep communication with your family in your busy work?
Chairman Toh: I often contact them through mobile phone. When we have chances to meet, we talk. My children have very good relationship with me. I often text them telling that I love them, asking them to take good care of themselves and talking to mother in well manner. As far as I know, we have a wonderful family relationship. I am grateful and I hope for their understanding as I do not have much time with them.
Little Master: What’s your leisure hobby?
Chairman Toh: My hobby is to meet with more friends and help them know more about Sian Chay and support Sian Chay. Besides that, I do some simple exercise in my leisure time to keep healthy. On top of that, my hobby is to expand the service scope of Sian Chay to benefit more people.
Little Master: Thank you for taking my interview.
Chairman Toh: Thank you, Little Master. How do you think after listening to all these? Just a couple of words, what did you learn?
Little Master: I learnt that young kids can practice philanthropy through helping the elderly to cross the road, visiting kids in orphanage, or playing with them and making friends with them.