Temasek Review 2020

Making a Difference

At Temasek, we safeguard the well-being of communities to build resilience through various efforts, supported by our staff and philanthropic endowments.

Coming Together to Fight the Coronavirus

Strategic Ideation Workshops
Madam Kang Hui Keng, 73, uses the hand sanitiser provided by Temasek Foundation to protect her health.

Earlier this year, as Madam Kang Hui Keng watched the news about the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in Singapore and across the world, she started thinking about what she could do to protect herself and her family.

She learnt that using hand sanitisers could keep the virus at bay as she goes about her daily life. The 73-year-old is an office cleaner but has been on paid leave since April. She used to take the bus every day to travel to the offices that she cleans.

However, hand sanitisers, which cost on average about $5 for a 50 ml bottle, are out of her budget. She earns S$800 a month which barely covers her household expenses. Madam Kang is the sole breadwinner of her family as her husband is recovering from a stroke and is unable to work.

"I initially wanted to buy hand sanitisers. However, they weren't cheap. So I didn't buy them," she said.

Thankfully, Madam Kang received a 500 ml bottle of free hand sanitiser in March as part of #BYOBclean, an initiative by Temasek Foundation to offer free hand sanitisers to all households in Singapore.

When she was working, Madam Kang would use the hand sanitiser about three times a day after she touches lift buttons or as she goes about her tasks. Now, she uses the hand sanitiser when she leaves her home.

“I feel assured that my health is protected
when I use the hand sanitiser.”

Kang Hui Keng

Strategic Ideation Workshops
Madam Kang collected her hand sanitiser at Teck Ghee Community Club in March.

Stepping Forward

Temasek Foundation rolled out #BYOBclean, so that everyone in Singapore could have access to hand sanitisers without worrying about the cost or being able to find them in retail stores. Earlier this year, there was a spate of panic buying of sanitisers and other essential items as the number of COVID-19 cases climbed in Singapore and other countries.

The programme was also designed to ensure a supply of safer zero alcohol sanitiser that could be stored in greater quantities without posing a fire risk in the home.

“We wanted to tell residents in Singapore not to worry. We are walking alongside you and we can combat COVID-19 together.”

Woon Saet Nyoon,
Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation Cares

Seized by a sense of urgency, the Foundation galvanised volunteers for the two-week exercise. More than 20,000 volunteers from the private sector, community groups and universities came forward, with many putting in hours on the weekends and time after work to help.

The volunteers helped in various stages of the process, such as preparing the sanitiser by diluting concentrated benzalkonium chloride (BKC), a zero alcohol disinfectant, with water. The disinfectant is neither flammable, toxic nor corrosive, making it less irritating on skin after frequent use, while being effective against coronaviruses.

The volunteers fanned out across the island to over 100 collection points such as CapitaLand malls and Community Centres (CCs). They helped with crowd control and poured sanitisers into the recycled bottles brought by the public.

Partner organisations such as People's Association, CapitaLand, SG Cares, Singapore Post and SP Group also stepped forward to support the initiative, providing substantial logistics support.

“The spirit of giving and volunteering is alive in Singapore.”

Koh Lin-Net,
Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation Nurtures

Strategic Ideation Workshops
Volunteers from CapitaLand Mohammad Shukri Afiq Mohd Ngat (left) and Quah Jia Yong dispensed sanitiser solution into smaller bottles at Galaxis building.
Strategic Ideation Workshops
Madam Julie Seah, a volunteer with Anchorvale Crescent Neighbourhood Committee, directed the public to the queueing area at Anchorvale CC.
Strategic Ideation Workshops
CapitaLand volunteer Netty Hirwati Mohamed Ismail poured hand sanitiser at Capital Tower.

Overcoming Challenges

While #BYOBclean was a success, there were challenges along the way.

Temasek Foundation wanted the programme to be sustainable, which meant detailed planning and thinking out of the box.

It would have been more convenient to transport the disinfectant in a ready-to-distribute form, pre-mixed with water from the manufacturer overseas. However, the Foundation decided to transport BKC in a concentrated form and dilute it with water in Singapore. This was done because transporting the pre-mixed solution would weigh more and contribute to higher carbon emissions and costs.

In Singapore, the concentrate was mixed with tap water, pre-tested for purity, at collection sites. This ensured that less liquid would be transported from the warehouse to the sites. While this method reduced the carbon emissions produced from transportation, it meant that volunteers had to be trained to dilute the solution at the collection sites.

Further, to reduce waste from adding hundreds of thousands of additional single-use bottles into the community, the public was asked to recycle an existing bottle to collect the hand sanitisers. To keep the public informed, a publicity campaign that included a leaflet delivery to every household, newspaper advertisements and social media posts was rolled out.

The Foundation also had to act quickly when unforeseen circumstances arose. One instance was when SingPost Centre in Eunos, which was a collection site, had to be closed after a COVID-19 cluster emerged there. In another instance, a popular mall, became too crowded that the Foundation staff members determined it would not be safe to continue distribution there. The public had to be informed promptly and redirected to nearby CCs.

However, all of these challenges come with organising such an innovative programme to benefit the whole nation, in a very short period of time. Nevertheless, these challenges were met by enthusiastic staff and volunteers who came up with innovative solutions and persevered with determination. They did not let the challenges dissuade them from their mission of delivering the hand sanitisers to all in Singapore who needed it.

Strengthening Resilience

Singaporeans have been appreciative of the efforts by Temasek Foundation.

Strategic Ideation Workshops
Madam Liyana, and her son, are thankful for the free bottle of hand sanitiser.

Madam Liyana, 37, who was on unpaid leave from her job at a café when she was interviewed earlier this year, said: "I thought this initiative is very good. I won't have to buy hand sanitisers and can save money."