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Ice bucket challenge, Singapore style

WASTE NOT: Mr Teo got wet for a good cause during a rooftop cleaning exercise at Sengkang Community Centre on Sunday


    Aug 29, 2014

    Ice bucket challenge, Singapore style

    IT HAS caused a global wave, prompting the man-on-the-street and celebrities to douse themselves with a bucket of ice and water for a good cause.

    Back home, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has sent ripples across the island with many, including football coach Fandi Ahmad and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, taking up the challenge.

    Some Singaporeans have even put a new spin on the deed by eating briyani instead of getting drenched.

    The challenge, which started last month, is aimed at raising awareness and funds for the debilitating disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

    The challenge requires those who are nominated through social media, mostly Facebook, to film themselves pouring a bucket of ice and water on themselves.

    They have to state their names, say who challenged them and nominate three others. They also have to say if they will be donating money.

    Speaking to My Paper, Mr Teo said that he was initially hesitant to take up the challenge. But after being nominated 11 times, he relented, giving it a useful twist.

    Along with 17 volunteers and residents, Mr Teo turned the ice bucket challenge into a rooftop cleaning exercise at Sengkang Community Centre. "I thought, we could do it somewhere where the water won't be wasted. The top floor needed to be washed," said the 46-year-old.

    He took up the challenge on Sunday and donated $100 for each person who took part in the challenge with him. Instead of the ALS association, Mr Teo donated all proceeds to charities that were nominated by the group.

    Technician Imdadullah Mohamed Raffick, 24, preferred to stay dry by eating a plate of briyani to help the ALS cause.

    "It is meaningful to a certain extent because it creates awareness. Most people didn't even know such a thing existed. But instead of pouring water and wasting water, something else could have been done," he said.

    Social media expert Michael Netzley said that the four ingredients that made the campaign so viral and successful were the combination of a real world problem, emotions, depending on strong relationship ties and a network effect.

    Not everyone was in on the gimmick.

    William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, praised the novelty of the campaign but declined to accept the challenge. "There was some pressure to do it and to nominate others. (But) I am committed to other smaller charities and will continue to donate to those," he said.

    Yasodhaa Balakrishnan, 27, who took the challenge, acknowledged that there were people who did it merely for the attention. But that did not take away any meaning for her.

    The client account executive said: "Even if they don't do it for the actual intended reasons, nominating someone else means that the chances of getting someone to donate or creating awareness is higher."