Finding the Good in Others by Ms Denise Phua

Knowing how easy it is for most of us to find what is wrong in others, I decided this week to intentionally find the good in fellow Singaporeans.
The opportunity came unfortunately in the form of a fire that broke out in a rental flat in my estate.

Mr Gulam, my resident in his 60s was burnt to death because he was reportedly drunk and was trapped in his flat and could not locate his keys. At the time of his demise, he was estranged from his family. I will miss gentle-spirited Mr Gulam and my condolences go to his family.


By the time I arrived at the burnt flat, the fire had just been put out. Fumes and smell of burnt possessions still permeated the air. It was dark and hot. I witnessed busy, perspiring and diligent firemen; police, HDB and Town Council officers all hard at work – fully focusing on the tasks on hand, saving people and homes. As I looked at them from the side, I cannot but be filled with gratitude for them.
I thought of our Town Council cleaners, the food court cleaners, the nursing home aides, and others who hold service jobs that others often deem as too difficult and shun. Do they ever receive words of gratitude from any of their beneficiaries in their daily course of duty?
I doubt it.
That morning, I took care to thank these heroes profusely. But I know words can never express the significance of these frontline personnel and how they quietly contribute to the making of our country.

May we not take those who serve us for granted and remember to thank them for their contributions!


I met Mr Sim, the neighbour living next to the unit on fire.

Despite having to look after his own children, Sim personally banged on the doors of more than 10 households on the same floor to warn them of the fire. Sim even tried to save fire victim Gulam who was trapped in his own flat as he could not locate his keys. When the fumes became unbearable, Sim finally gave up the rescue mission.

While I was waiting with the residents for the electricity supply to be restored, I witnessed one scene that others did not see. When Sim met the estranged daughter of Mr Gulam, he choked in tears and even apologized to her for not being able to save her father. Although it was a brief moment, I was moved and touched by the goodness of this man. He deserves an Excellent Neighbour Award.

May we learn to love our neighbours as ourselves!


As a result of the fire, the electricity supply was disrupted. I met a number of residents downstairs who were waiting for the supply to be re-connected.

As I interacted with them, I once again witnessed the goodness and tenacity of humankind.
None of the residents I met blamed the unit. Many were in fact patient and understood that the electricians were under tremendous stress to restore the utilities. Two elderly aunties I was chatting with surprised me when they apologized for making me lose sleep.

May we be the kind of people who encourage others in unexpected moments!


I cannot complete this story without thanking my beloved husband who, never once grumbled when I needed him to support me in my community work.

When I woke him at 4am to ask if he could drive me to the fire scene to see what we can do to help, he willingly did so.

Despite his long hours as a social entrepreneur who creates jobs for people with special needs, he made our marriage vow a reality and loved and supported me “for better, for worse, for richer, for oorer, in sickness and in health”.  His humility and readiness to do mundane tasks like driving me to unfamiliar venues to bigger tasks like critiquing my parliamentary speeches, is the good that I was reminded of this week.

May we appreciate the little acts of love by those we sometimes forget because they are so much a part of our lives!


This week, as I make a special effort to find the good in others, I am reminded of the wisdom of not writing off too quickly what I often consider as “bad” in life. These may include not only individuals I know but also others whom I may not personally and only heard about them from third parties.
But most people come in packages, comprising both good and areas that need to be improved.

It is so easy to look for what is bad.

Some days, it is refreshing and therapeutic simply to find and appreciate the good in others.

What good in others have you found and appreciated this week?

MY PAPER COLUMN, 2 May 2012 from Ms Denise Phua
Source : Finding the Good in Others by Ms Denise Phua


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