Noriza A. Mansor – Singaporean Of The Year 2015

A woman who went beyond the call of duty and stepped up to help an elderly stranger after he soiled himself at a supermarket is named The Straits Times’ first Singaporean of the Year 2015.

Madam Noriza A. Mansor, 50, a salesperson with the NTUC FairPrice supermarket at Toa Payoh HDB Hub, was presented with the inaugural award by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a ceremony held today (2 February) at UBS Business University. PM Lee was Guest-of-Honour at the award ceremony.

Organised by The Straits Times and sponsored by global bank UBS, the Singaporean of the Year award seeks to honour extraordinary acts of goodwill, ingenuity or perseverance by Singaporeans that have made a positive impact on the lives of others.

Madam Noriza, a mother of five, clinched the award for her extraordinary act of kindness towards a fellow Singaporean, Mr Tan Soy Yong, 76, in October 2014. When she came across Mr Tan at an NTUC FairPrice supermarket in Toa Payoh, he had clumps of faeces clinging to his shorts, legs and shoes. Instead of shunning him as others did, Madam Noriza helped him clean up and change into a new pair of shorts that she had bought for him. She also took him and his wheelchair-bound wife home in a taxi. A bystander, moved to tears by her selfless act, reported it to the media and the story quickly went viral. Following the incident, she continued to visit and care for the couple at their home and sought them out even after they moved into a nursing home, transcending the boundaries of age and race to treat them like her own parents.

Madam Noriza beat nine other finalists, ranging from philanthropists and sportsmen to environmentalists and trail-blazing entrepreneurs (see Annexe A  for the full list of finalists), who were nominated for the award. The winner was selected by a panel of 15 judges including senior editors and correspondents from The Straits Times, as well as local celebrities and community leaders such as social entrepreneur and activist Saleemah Ismail, youth leader David Hoe and chef Willin Low (see Annex B for the full list of judges).

Many ST readers also supported Madam Noriza in an online poll conducted by The Straits Times in January 2016. She was among the top choices, garnering 24% of 2,793 votes in the public poll.

As part of the award, Madam Noriza will get $20,000 in cash and a trophy, while the other finalists will each receive $5,000 from UBS.

In a video that The Straits Times recorded of Madam Noriza for the award, she said: “I hope that all Singaporeans will do what I did, to help those who really need their help. Please don’t turn them down.”

Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor of The Straits Times, on The Straits Times’ Singaporean of the Year award, said: “This ST award aims to recognise those who inspire us all, through their actions and lives, to make a difference to our community.  It is not about finding the best entrepreneur, most outstanding social worker, top professional or some paragon of virtue.  Rather, each of the nominees, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, has a powerful story that will resonate with, and inspire, all of us.

“As for Madam Noriza, our winner of the inaugural award, hers was a spontaneous act of great kindness and compassion, for a complete stranger. She crossed age, sex, language and racial boundaries to lend a helping hand when called upon to do so, and in a way that not many would have done. And, she followed through on this, tending to the elderly couple for many months as if they were her own parents. Her selfless act is truly a lesson for us all. It shows that any one of us can be extraordinary if we step up to help, in whatever way we can.”

Mr Juerg Zeltner, President of Wealth Management, UBS, said: “We are delighted to present the inaugural Singaporean of the Year Award as part of UBS’s SG50 gift to Singapore. Through this award, we want to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and honour those who have gone above and beyond their call of duty to make a difference to society.”

“As a global firm, UBS seeks to adopt a responsible and sustainable approach to doing business, and to contribute to the communities in which it operates. Singapore has come a long way over the last 50 years. Its remarkable progress would not have been possible without the support, commitment and dedication of ordinary people determined to make Singapore a better place. Their efforts are a testament to the power of the human spirit and its capacity to enhance the quality of life across communities.”

In addition to the 10 nominees, the judges also singled out for special mention the group of individuals who rushed to help a South Korean man trapped under a lorry on 22 July 2015, working together to lift it and free him.

Said Mr Fernandez: “Their spontaneous and courageous response to help someone in urgent need went viral and made us all proud to be their fellowmen.”



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