Published: 10 July 2021
President of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge
Mr Tan Lee Huak,
Board & Council Members
of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon to all of you.
2. It is an honour to be here, for the 46th Board of Directors of the Lodge and the Councils of the 20th Welfare Foundation & Education Foundation. Congratulations to all the Board and Council members on your appointment.
II. HISTORY OF THE SINGAPORE BUDDHIST LODGE (SBL)
3. We know the history but sometimes it is useful to go back and recount for ourselves the history of the institution, so that we understand as we go forward, and also for the younger people.
4. The SBL was set up nearly 90 years ago, in 1934, by a small group. The idea was very simple, to share the Buddha’s teachings, and to spread kindness and charity, which is in line with the teachings.
5. This mission has been continued over the years by the successive Boards, Council members, serving the community, and not just the Buddhist Community, but the broader community.
III. SERVING THE COMMUNITY
6. Today, SBL works closely with my ministry as well as other ministries. SBL is a key religious and charitable organisation in Singapore.
7. Many of the initiatives which have been taken, over through the long and rich history of the Lodge, continue to benefit many in Singapore, whether they are Buddhists or non-Buddhists.
8. Let me give a few examples. About 40 years ago, in the 1980s, the Lodge started giving out vegetarian meals. The idea is that, charity, there are different types of charity, food is a type of charity, three times a day, all year around, 365 days. Every single day, more than 500 meals are served, weekends, 2,000 people. It is a very important charity.
9. About 30 years ago, the Lodge set the Singapore Buddhist Lodge Vision Family Service Centre, in conjunction with Government, in Tampines Central. Provides counselling and outreach programmes to serve the community. Last year alone, more than 600 cases, which helped many families. Just under two cases per day, every single day, includes Saturdays and Sundays.
10. 20 years ago, the Lodge began to set up traditional Chinese medicine clinics. Provide consultation, provides physiotherapy services. In 2019, more than 32,000 patients were served by the TCM clinics.
11. And then you have the Singapore Buddhist Lodge Education Foundation and the Welfare Foundations.
12. The Singapore Buddhist Lodge Education Foundation gives bursaries to students from primary, secondary, universities, ITEs and polytechnics. Since 1979, more than $21 million has been given away. Last year, nearly $800,000. Nearly 40,000 students have benefitted from the projects.
13. The Welfare Foundation for the Singapore Buddhist Lodge distributes “Hong Baos” to the needy, elderly, destitute, every Chinese New Year, which has been going on for the last 72 years – a long time before Singapore became independent. More than S$15 million has been raised and distributed to more than 300,000 beneficiaries.
IV. WORKING WITH DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
14. As I said earlier, the bursaries, the charitable work, it is not restricted to Buddhist or Chinese. In line with Buddha’s teachings, it is to all human beings, because everyone deserves help. Whether you are Muslim, whether you are Hindu, whether you are Indian, whether you are Malay, whether you are Chinese, whether you are Christian, you need it, the help is given by the Buddhist Lodge.
15. That exemplifies the good spirit, the spirit that we want to encourage in Singapore. For many years, the lodge has partnered Jamiyah Singapore, as well as The Hindu Endowments Board, as well as The Singapore Taoist Federation, in the Hong Bao distribution, and also to identify the people who are needy.
16. In fact, last year, more than one in two of the bursaries for students in the primary and secondary school, went to Malay and Indian students.
17. I’m glad. This is an initiative by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and my ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs. We came up with the Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony in Singapore. Singapore Buddhist Lodge is one of nearly 700 religious organisations in Singapore to put its signature to the document, to show that we have positive ways of interacting between religions in Singapore and encouraging all the different faiths to be tolerant towards each other.
18. In our multi-racial, multi-religious society, we need to work across races, work across religion.
19. You, together with many other organisations in Singapore, have been positive examples of this.
20. Once again, let me end by congratulating the new Board and Council Members. I should acknowledge everybody. The Member of Parliament for this area Ms Joan Pereira is here, I acknowledge her too. I wish all of you continued success in serving the community and SBF, every good fortune as you go on.
21. Thank you.