I'm a bit embarrassed to be writing this post as I'm about to launch into a raging rant, the fist-punching-the-air kind of rage while less than 48 hours ago, I was just talking about how it's more important to focus on the good things, stop bashing stuff, be Team Care Bear instead of Team Darth Vader.
But every now and then, the Care Bears do get pissed off when we see things that are so ridiculous. And this time it's a case of big organization attempting to be magnanimous with charity.
I'm talking about the case of Singapore Press Holdings' "Charity" stunt where they're putting up a Volkswagen car for charity auction. The money raised would go to paying for the subscription of The Straits Times newspaper for a year, worth $300, for 1000 low-income families. Yes, you got it, the money raised BY SPH goes back to SPH's bank account by purchasing SPH's product which is The Straits Times Newspaper.
Can I just ask what kind of charity is this when the proceeds raised by the organizer go back to the organizer's bank account? Okay, fine, so they're buying newspaper from themselves and it is still something for the poor, but how about doing REAL charity by giving out the newspaper FOR FREE and use the money raised to do more like subsidizing other things?
When I read a statement made by SPH, I literally did a 360-eye roll and laughed out loud:
Said ST editor Warren Fernandez: "We at ST are delighted to partner
with Volkswagen once again for this worthwhile project. Those who bid
for this car will help drive our efforts to reach out and support the
less well-off in our community.
"We want to give the young in these families a precious gift: access
to information and a window to the world and all its possibilities. That
will help them get ahead in life. We sincerely believe a daily copy of
the ST delivered to their homes will do that."
Having dealt with low-income families before in my previous voluntary stints, I honestly question if newspaper, instead of other form of subsidy, is what the low-income families need and want. Especially in this day and age where information is, in fact, quite readily available on the radio, television and internet. Not to mention there is already a supply of free newspapers like Today and My Paper (another SPH product mind you). Is a subscription to The Straits Times more important than to say practical things like $300 dollars worth of medical subsidy or grocery vouchers?
Warren Fernandez made it sound like these 1000 low-income families live in some remote island far away from civilization. Sooo remote that they have absolutely no access to information of sort and that The Straits Times subscription for a year will save their future.
What happens after one year when the charity tenure is over? Do they still get subscriptions? Or is their "window to the world and all its possibilities" suddenly get shut until further notice? What if they raise more than the $300,000 for a one-year subscription for 1000 families? Where does the money go to? What if some families prefer Chinese papers or other kind of subsidy for that matter?
I'm sorry, but I find this whole charity thing somewhat insulting to the many unsung heros out there who do real charity work either by donation or time and effort volunteering.
Having done all the ranting and bashing, it's "Care Bear Duty" time to make something positive out of it. I guess the one positive thing I take home with SPH's lack-luster charity gimmick is to do better when charity is concerned. That the real needs of the less fortunate people should come before personal glory.
Oh, one more thing! Don't underestimate the gift of newspaper because the newspaper can be a very useful resource too even if you're not proficient in reading. You can always use it to wrap fish before putting them into the freezer, clean the windows, or my personal favorite, wrap pet's dookies with them for disposal!