Good Samaritan is ST S'porean of the year
SALESWOMAN Noriza A. Mansor was yesterday named the first Straits Times Singaporean of the Year.
Madam Noriza, 50, beat nine other contenders - including philanthropists, athletes and social workers - to the inaugural title.
The award, which is sponsored by the bank UBS Singapore, seeks to recognise Singaporeans whose extraordinary acts of goodwill, ingenuity or perseverance improved their community and the lives of others in 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented a stunned Madam Noriza with the Singaporean of the Year trophy and a $20,000 cash prize during yesterday's ceremony at the UBS Business University.
Madam Noriza, a bedsheet promoter, made headlines in October 2014, when she stepped forward to help an elderly man, Tan Soy Yong, who had soiled himself while buying groceries with his wheelchair-bound wife at a Toa Payoh supermarket.
Others had recoiled from the man and his stench but Madam Noriza knelt down to wipe the dried faeces off his legs and bought him new shorts. Her acts moved a bystander to tears.
Since that day, the single mother of five has regularly used her days off to visit Mr Tan and his wife Lee Bee Yian, both 76, even after they were hospitalised and moved into nursing homes.
Madam Noriza said of her win:
"I'm speechless. I feel very happy but also a bit sad because uncle (Mr Tan) could not be here today. But I felt like he was here beside me when I went on stage."
Her win was decided after a public vote and deliberation by a 15-judge panel, including Straits Times editors and writers, as well as figures such as social entrepreneur and activist Saleemah Ismail, youth leader David Hoe and restaurateur Willin Low.
The other nominees each received $5,000 from sponsor UBS.