S Arulanandam

Helping others is something most of us do. It starts at a young age, helping family, friends and the people that come into our life. There is no reason to stop says Mr Arul, as he naturally progressed to help others from his generation when he retired. His involvement with St Luke’s hospital to accompany the residents on their regular hospital appointment is testament to Mr Arul’s innate desire to extend a helping hand.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, Mr Arul was fortunate to have parents who recognised the importance of early childhood education. Despite growing up on a farm, Mr Soosaipillai, his father, always stressed and prioritised education for all his children. Fitting school in with the numerous farm chores was certainly no mean feat, but despite it, Mr Arul and his 5 siblings persevered and today, almost all are well educated and established in their chosen careers.

After obtaining his diploma and working for five years, Mr Arul then travelled to UK for further studies. Arriving in UK with hardly any money to his name, Mr Arul was fortunate in not only quickly securing a job which enabled him to cover his living expenses, but also one that he wholeheartedly enjoyed!


“The parents know that we can't survive as a farmer so they want to educate their children.”

After completing his studies, the next big change in Mr Arul’s life came when he answered an advertisement in the newspaper calling for lecturers in Singapore. Passing through the interviews, Mr Arul soon joined Singapore Polytechnic as a lecturer in 1977 and not long after that, joined the Singapore Polytechnic Indian Cultural Society as an advisor. Remaining with the society for the next seventeen years, Mr Arul helped students with not only academic placements, but personal problems as well. Coming up with a variety of solutions for each issue, he has even resorted to leaving scholarship application forms at the thosai shop in the polytechnic in hopes of getting the students to notice them!


“In those days the students were fantastic. Nowadays they don't even say Hello. They think I am just a machine.”

Besides impacting the students, one way the ICS affected him was through his work with St Luke’s. Visiting often with his students during his polytechnic days, Mr Arul now continues on with his volunteer work solo. Nowadays, his main job involves escorting patients to their medical appointments and accompanying them through the whole process; from having tests done to doctor consultations and even collecting their medicine for them. Mr Arul mentions that while he does get to meet interesting patients from time to time, he often gets difficult patients as well. Looking over his volunteer work with St. Luke’s from the past 10 years, Mr Arul feels glad that he has been able to help them in some small way at least.

"I don’t have money to give them as a donation; at least I contribute this way and make them happy.”

Besides St. Luke’s, Mr Arul has also been actively contributing to society in other ways. Mr Arul has consistently donated blood at least twice a year for the past 37 years till he reached the maximum age for donation. He also takes part in SINDA’s family service scheme and is in close contact with several families over a long period, helping them in whatever way they can. This can take the form of helping them seek legal recourse and even sponsoring certain individuals in pursuing further studies.

Crediting his father with not only inculcating the importance of education, but also with always giving to others, Mr Arul mentions how when growing up, his father would let workers take things they needed in exchange for simple odd jobs around the house and recalls how a saying of his, “If you have two, always give one to someone else”, led to his daughter taking away her sister’s pencil case to give to a friend!

In light of Singapore’s approaching 50th celebrations, Mr Arul has but one thing to remind Singaporeans. Speaking from experience of having lived and worked in both developing and developed countries, Mr Arul reminds Singaporeans to be grateful for what they have and not complain incessantly. He also reminds Singaporeans that we are indeed fortunate to have reached high standards of safety and security and to trust that our government is indeed always acting in our best interests.


"You have to have faith in the government!”


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.