Over the past three decades, Mr Paul Lee, who was born with cerebral palsy, has experienced numerous acts of kindness from Singaporeans. These acts of kindness spurred Mr Lee, now 38, to go on to help others in need. The tax consultant is an avid volunteer, and he helps out in many activities that range from helping taxi drivers, hawkers and others file their income taxes online, to assisting commuters in navigating MRT delays through the Facebook group Tata SMRT.
Singaporeans like Mr Lee, and those who “have the heart to give back to the community and make a difference” are at the core of a caring and cohesive society, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on 19 February 2018 as he announced a slew of measures to increase support for elderly and vulnerable Singaporeans.
Mr Lee’s record of volunteerism began over a decade ago. In 2005, he responded to a call by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) for volunteers to help groups such as taxi drivers file their income taxes electronically.
In 2010, he started a Facebook group at IRAS’s request to allow volunteers to exchange knowledge, mingle and share their problems. Though the volunteer programme ended three years ago, Mr Lee is still passionate about the cause.
Since last year, he has worked with groups to provide the free service to taxi drivers, hawkers and others at various locations. He has recruited nearly 30 volunteers to help with the eight sessions so far, with partners such as City Funeral Singapore stepping forward to sponsor items such as stationery and printers.
His volunteer work also extends to the silver generation, as Mr Lee, who in his role as a Pioneer Generation ambassador also visits the homes of seniors in the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency to provide them with information on initiatives that could benefit them, such as the Community Health Assist Scheme.
Mr Lee credits his spirit of volunteerism to the kindness of strangers he met when he was younger, as they inspired him to pay it forward. In 2016, Mr Lee was awarded the annual Silent Heroes Award by the Hillview Civilians Sports Club for his work in the community.