Cover Martin Tan

The philanthropic organisation's executive director is most concerned about the disruption of community ties in the time of the coronavirus

The impact that Covid-19 will have on community cohesiveness in Singapore keeps Martin Tan up at night. The executive director of philanthropic organisation, The Majurity Trust, is most concerned about the disruption to the country’s social fabric as individuals tend to focus on themselves and their personal circles to the detriment of the greater community.

“With all the news about hoarding, discrimination against Chinese nationals and healthcare workers, in the beginning, it dawned upon us that a fracture in the Singapore society is far worse than the damage the virus can do,” says Tan. “We can and will recover from Covid-19. But we need to guard our societal bonds to ensure we can ride through this storm together.”

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To spark on the ground action for the greater good, he spearheaded the launch of the Singapore Strong Fund (known as #SGStrong Fund on social media) to encourage people from all walks of life to start their own initiatives to deal with this crisis.

Its premise is simple: individuals, groups or registered charities just have to write in with their proposals on how they can do their part to help others during this pandemic. If the application is approved, applicants will receive up to 80 per cent of the project cost or a cap of $5,000 per project, whichever is lower.

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“We realised early on that our ability to overcome Covid-19 isn’t the job of the government or the charity sector alone but that of every segment of society. While the government takes care of the big items like the economy and medical needs, we wanted to play our small part to support ground-up initiatives by volunteers who wanted to do their part,” Tan explains.

He roped in 10 Singapore-based family foundations, charities, corporates and philanthropists, including Mary Ann Tsao, chairwoman of the Tsao Foundation and construction and civil engineering firm Woh Hup. Danny Yong, founder and chairman of The Majurity Trust, also donated to the Singapore Strong Fund via his personal family trust, the Yong Hon Kong Foundation.

(Related: How The World's Richest are Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic)

To date, the #SGStrong Fund, which can support up to 160 projects, has received over 120 applications with over 50 initiatives implemented. These completed projects have since reached out to over 30,000 people. The cumulative effect of these acts of goodwill cannot be underestimated. With collective action, Tan firmly believes the little red dot will ultimately be able to overcome and recover from the pandemic. He says, “Covid-19 is a black-swan event that has no playbook and no immediate answers or solutions. The only thing we believe can work is for us to unite together.”


A Special Tatler Asia Report—We salute those in Asia who are leading the fight against the Covid-19 crisis: James Dyson | Tan Min-Liang | Anthony Tan | Capitaland | Tom Kong | The Full List

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