DJ Tan from Singapore: “Let’s help other communities in greater need than us”

#GlobalHumanismNow: an update from Humanists Society in Singapore

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 16 April 2020
  • By / Mahalet Tadesse

#GlobalHumanismNow is a series of mini-interviews with our Members and Associates from all around the world where we ask them how they are coping with the global coronavirus emergency, to explain what initiatives they are taking, and to tell us how the global humanist community can support them.

All interviews are available here: hmnts.in/GlobalHumanismNow

Today we speak with Ding Jie Tan, Vice President of Humanist Society Singapore. The organization has been a Humanists International Member since 2011.

Humanists International: Hi Ding Jie, thank you for accepting our invitation. I always called you DJ, can I keep doing it?

Ding Jie: Of course, Giovanni!

All right, DJ! Let’s start with the basics: what is the current situation in Singapore? 

Singapore has recently recorded daily highs of new COVID-19 cases (149 new cases on 8 April at the time of the interview, with 1623 total cases), with ongoing community transmission.

(UPDATE: like in many other countries, the situation escalated quickly: as of 15 April, Singapore records 3252 cases and 10 deaths.)

And how has the emergency affected your organization and the individuals within it? 

To our knowledge, none of our members have contracted COVID-19. All of our meetings and social gatherings have been canceled or postponed in accordance with public health advisories. The Singapore government has also implemented a four-week movement control order to restrict non-essential businesses in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

How is your organization responding to the emergency?

Humanist Society Singapore has moved all meetings and discussions online. Community engagement continues via our online and social media platforms. For example, we have adopted the #HumanismAtHome program and we will continue to organize more online discussions and streaming parties.

More in general, how do you think we should face this emergency as humanists? Which humanist principles should we value most right now?

DJ (in the back) with all participants of the Asian Humanism Conference 2019, organized in Singapore

Our organization was founded upon the values of ‘reason’ and ‘compassion’. We should let evidence-based reasoning guide public health policy and advisories while remaining compassionate and assisting those who may be disproportionately affected by this crisis.

Humanists should also provide secular/non-religious pastoral support and care to individuals and communities in need. Because that’s what we are: a global united community.

How can the international community support your efforts?

Thank you, but for the moment we are lucky and safe enough, and we are not in need of support. Please direct efforts towards other countries and communities who may be in greater need.

And what is your message to the global humanist community?

To paraphrase Doctor Who: “laugh hard, stay safe, be kind”.

Thank you for participating in the #GlobalHumanismNow series, Ding Jie!

These are tough and unprecedented times. I urge everyone to remain compassionate, rational, and socially responsible – help your neighbour, support your local businesses. Thank you, Giovanni!

If you represent a Member or Associate of Humanists International and you want to participate to the #GlobalHumanismNow series, please contact us at [email protected]

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