The Ice Bucket Challenge is now sweeping Singapore by storm, but does it actually increase donation numbers?

Liang Hwei  |  Singapore
Published 2014-08-21 10:00:30

The Ice Bucket Challenge has finally come to Singapore!

After making waves across the world, it has now come to Singapore as celebrities and entertainers are picking up the mantle to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known more commonly as Motor Neuron Disease here. With people like Rebecca Lim, George Young, and even 987FM, Class 95FM, and Scoot, the viral trend of dunking buckets of ice water on heads for charity seem to be spreading like wildfire!

Teo Ser Luck Accepts The Challenge

In fact, the next face you will see drenched in ice water would be a familiar one, none other than our own Ministry of Trade and Industry, Teo Ser Luck. He was tagged by Keith Ng, CEO of Gametize. Looks like we’ll be in for a treat!

Singapore’s Prime Minister Radio Silent

Even though the Minister of Trade and Industry has taken on the challenge, the Prime Minister has not. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been called out for the ice bucket challenge by actor/model George Young and SGag’s Xiao Ming. However, he’s already missed the 24 hour window, and we can’t be too sure that he will comment on the challenge or not.

Most Singaporeans aren’t really surprised by the looks of a Hardware Zone forum titled “PM Lee got named for Ice Bucket challenge”, with most commenters saying that he will likely not do it. I guess it was expected, especially since USA President Barack Obama declined the challenge, instead opting to donate to ALS research. Hopefully, the SG Prime Minister will at least make a donation as well.

Image Credit: Today SG
Image Credit: Today SG

Is it ALS or MND?

In case you were wondering why you’ve never heard of ALS before, it is because it is more commonly known in Singapore as Motor Neuron Disease (MND). As you can tell from the name, the disease affects your motor neurons, the stuff that control voluntary muscle activity including talking, walking, and general body movement. Singapore celebrities taking part in this challenge are trying to raise donations for the locally-based MND Support Group, hosted by the National Neuroscience Institute.

Is It Really Helping?

Image Credit: Class 95FM
Image Credit: Class 95FM

In terms of awareness, it is definitely very successful. The Ice Bucket Challenge has put ALS/MND on the front of every social media channel, and in a short span on two days the Singapore wave is starting to pick up steam.

Currently, the main channel of donations for MND is through giveasia.org, started by comedy channel Ministry of Funny. However, it hasn’t gained much traction, with only 8 contributors and S$130 contributed to the cause. The Scoot team also made a donation, but directly to the SPD through the main GiveAsia website.

The reason for this is because the only people promoting the GiveAsia campaign site are Haresh, the face of Ministry of Funny itself, and Jade Seah. Other celebrities, such as the 987FM team and Dee Kosh, are instead linking people to the MND Support Group for National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), that although provides all the information you need to find out about MND, provides no actionable outlet for people actually interested in donating.
(Editor’s Note: The NNI have commented that when these celebrities mentioned that donations are going to ALS research, providing links to NNI’s Support Group to find out more was incorrect. They also stated that they were not informed about the sharing of links to their support group.)

Without a concerted Singaporean effort, will we really be able to make a visible difference for MND patients? Perhaps it is too early to say, but all of you thinking of taking part in this challenge, do look past the fun and remember why this trend started, and why the message it carries is important.

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