On top of their busy professional lives, Ms Melissa Kwee and Mr Thrumurgan s/o Ramapiram take on a second hat to volunteer as members of the Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees (HT BCCs).
They are amongst 41 volunteers whose contributions in supporting the Home Team's operations were recognised at the recent Minister’s Appreciation Lunch where they received their Long Service Awards (LSA).
Member of Institutional Discipline Advisory Committee; Long Imprisonment Review Board; and Life Imprisonment Review Board and The President’s Pleasure Review Board
Why did you decide to serve the HT BCCs?
Mr Thrumurgam s/o Ramapiram is a veteran criminal defence lawyer. PHOTO: Phoebe Leow
I always wanted to make a positive difference to others which I already do as a pro-bono lawyer. I would like to reach out to help at a greater community level, so I agreed to be a member of the HT BCCs when I was approached, so that I can impact even more people.
What do your roles in the multiple BCCs entail?
I currently volunteer for a few committees, including The Life Imprisonment Review Board, The President’s Pleasure Review Board, and the Institutional Discipline Advisory Committee. My role includes reviewing cases and making recommendations on matters related to inmates.
How has your experience in the HT BCCs been so far?
What I have found greatly beneficial thus far is having had the opportunity to learn from my fellow volunteers. HTBCCs, as diverse as they are, comprise people from disparate backgrounds, representing many different communities and providing varied perspectives. This really broadened my horizons and I have learnt useful lessons from them.
Above all, we share the same passion for what we do, and find meaning in it together. Working with my fellow volunteers has been a memorable experience.
What advice would you give to people who are considering volunteering?
Go for it! There is a lot to gain from volunteering. It broadens horizons, offers new skills and allows one to impart skills transferable in various aspects of life.
- Interviewed and written by Phoebe Leow
MS MELISSA KWEE
Former CEO of National Volunteer & Philanthropy Network (NVPC),
5-Year Long Service Award recipient
Member of Board of Visiting Justices & Board of Inspection; Board of Visitors (Drug Rehabilitation Centres and Anti-Inhalant Abuse Centres); and Home Team Volunteer Network Steering Committee
You have an illustrious career in both volunteer work and the private sector. Some might argue the time and effort would be better spent doing something profitable than volunteering. What's your take?
Ms Melissa Kwee has been involved in volunteer work since she was 17 years old. PHOTO: Benedict Kok
Volunteering is one of the most profitable and worthwhile endeavour in my life. Beyond making a living, I think everybody’s life is made richer and meaningful by helping others. It has been said: “The measure of a society is not how the strongest fare, but how it treats the weakest.” I believe everyone can be part of building a stronger society for all.
I’ve come to the stage now where I don’t see myself as a volunteer anymore – the people I’ve helped are no longer just beneficiaries but my friends and family. I attend their weddings, birthdays and funerals. The ultimate purpose for me is to build stronger relationships which build a better society.
What drew you to join the HT BCCs?
It goes back to my interest and involvement in youth development. Many years ago when I first started my career, I wanted to help teenagers who were in broken families and residential homes.
I came to work with Prisons in particular, because I realised why these kids were affected was because their parents were affected. Then I realised that the parents were once those kids, so I feel we need to break the cycle of inter-generational offending, one life at a time.
What do your roles in the multiple BCCs entail?
I visit Prisons including the drug rehabilitation centre every four to six weeks to ensure the welfare of inmates are taken care of. I also advise on the broad direction of the Home Team Volunteer Network as a member of the Steering Committee.
What has been the most valuable takeaway from your experience with the HT BCCs?
I have a mural outside my house which says “hope”. I think it's always challenging, but one can never lose hope, and I think one wouldn't put in the effort to help without believing that other people's lives will be better as a result, even if circumstances look really bad in the present.
What advice would you give to prospective volunteers or those who wish to volunteer but not sure how to start?
There's never a perfect time, nor the perfect person for the job, so just start.
- Interviewed and written by Benedict Kok
Read also 35 Years as a Home Team Volunteer: Purpose Through Service
Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees (HT BCCs)
The Home Team has 42 Boards, Councils, and Committees
comprising over 450 respected professionals and community leaders, who serve as critical pillars of support to a wide array of Home Team.
An appreciation lunch was held on 29 October 2022 to thank the HT BCC members for their contributions. Second Minister Mrs Josephine Teo presented Long Service Awards to 41 recipients for their years of dedicated service. Read the speech by Mrs Teo.