18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Never Too Young to Care for the Old

Contributed by Shukry Rashid, NTUC This Week

Jason Sim was 14 years old when his grandfather suffered a stroke in 2004 and became paralysed on the right side of the body. With both his parents working and his sister too young for caregiving duties, Jason had no choice but to take up the responsibility.

After school, when most kids his age would be out with friends, Jason would buy food for his grandfather, then head home to bathe and care for him.

His grandfather passed away in 2010, but the experience has had longer term effects – today, he is a volunteer for the vulnerable in society.

While serving his National Service in 2011, he decided to volunteer with a non-profit community service agency serving the needs of children, youths, families and seniors in Singapore.

When the 27-year-old software engineer joined Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and its union early last year, he was told by union leaders that he could also volunteer as an activist with Young NTUC.

Currently an assistant general secretary (AGS) with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Staff Union (IRASSU), Jason has been a part of Young NTUC since November 2016.

His most memorable achievement to date is being part of the recent Meals-on-Wheels programme, which delivers daily meals to the elderly.

Jason and his team did everything themselves – from recruiting volunteers to planning the roster and coordinating the deliveries.

He rallied over 70 volunteers from IRAS, IRASSU and friends for 36 sessions between April and November 2017, and made deliveries to the elderly in the neighbourhoods of Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio. Over 60 seniors benefited from this programme.

“With the experience I had taking care of my late-grandfather, I can interact better with the elderly I am serving now.

“It gives me a warm feeling to be able to look after them. The elderly has done so much to build our country and society. When they are old, sometimes they have nobody to take care of them. I believe that we should do our part to give back to them. That is my principle,” he shared.

Marrying Activism with Unionism
For Jason, the work is not done yet. As IRASSU AGS, he plans to include activism as part of union work.

Currently, IRASSU volunteering projects with charity organisations are on an ad-hoc basis. Jason is in negotiations with TOUCH Community Services for IRAS staff and IRASSU members to participate in its activities.

Jason said: “We plan to sign an agreement with TOUCH so that we don’t just stop here. We don’t want to just do one event, we want to make this a long-term thing.”

With IRAS committing to 2,500 hours of community work in conjunction with its 25th anniversary this year, IRASSU sees this as yet another opportunity to continue contributing to society.