More than 200 humanitarian partners, donors and volunteers gathered at the Singapore Polytechnic Staff Centre to observe the 3rd World Humanitarian Day here, organized by Singapore’s own and only humanitarian relief and development organisation, Mercy Relief.


(Students of Singapore Polytechnic’s Diploma-Plus in Humanitarian Affairs sharing their experiences on the ground in Japan during the recent Earthquake and Tsunami, and their expedition to the Philippines to help with the locals’ livelihood programme.)

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is a day designated by UN General Assembly Resolution A/63/L.49, as a “special recognition to all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty..”

Leaders of the main faiths in Singapore led a customary prayer for the continued safety and security of aid workers in discharging their duties.

(Union in Silence – Inter-faith leaders led the guests through a customary prayer for humanitarians who have lost their lives in the course of their work, like MR’s very own Mr Shalahudin Johari (in the background (in blue)), and the safety and security of those who are still serving.)

The highlights of this year’s WHD was the unveiling of technological applications – at the Applied Innovations for Development & Emergency Relief (AIDER) exhibition – for use in regional disaster relief and sustainable rural developments.  AIDER is a joint design-thinking and development endeavour by MR and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) focusing on water & sanitation, clean energy and shelter.

(Appropriate Technology – Singapore Polytechnic’s Goh Siak Koon introducing to Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi the Floating Platform Toilets which could be deployed by river communities in Asia.  It is one of the nine technological applications showcased at the WHD3 and jointly designed and developed by SP and MR.)

MR Chairman T K Udairam said, “These applications will be constantly reviewed and fine-tuned by both SP and MR, so as to maintain their relevance and effectiveness in the field.  I hope that this AIDER initiative will trigger more Singaporeans and corporations in Singapore to venture their creativity towards addressing the social and humanitarian issues, both regionally and globally.  Perhaps one day, Singapore can be the innovation hub for the international humanitarian industry.”

Mercy Relief (MR) also paid tribute to one of its pioneers –its Advisor Abdullah Tarmugi – who has served and sacrificed for the humanitarian cause since its inception.  During MR’s embryonic stage, Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi was amongst those who insisted that MR must be secular and its Board of Directors be multi-racial and multi-religious so as to fulfill its mission effectively –to serve the needy regardless of country, culture and creed.

(Reminiscing the Evolution – Mercy Relief’s Advisor, Abdullah Tarmugi, taking the audience down memory lane on the struggles of MR as Singapore’s first regional humanitarian NGO in 2003.)

Since 2007, MR is headed by a Hindu Chairman (T K Udairam), a Buddhist (Ong Bon Chai) and a Muslim (Prof Dr Abdul Wahab) deputy chairmen, and a Sikh Secretary (Satwant Singh).   To date MR has served at 20 countries across Asia.

Mr Udairam added, “Despite a busy schedule, Advisor Abdullah consciously and consistently makes time to contribute.  He is amazingly humble and approachable; one who is never wasteful with words, but one of the wittiest I have known.  As a senior statesman then, he travelled around with us on Economy classes and stay at modest guest houses in the rural areas of our project locations.  Never once has he aired his discomfort.”

MR also received a boost of confidence and resource with a $450,000 donation from local food manufacturing company,Golden Season Pte Ltd.  Further donations were also received from the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), CSM Academy, Singapore Polytechnic and CSEM Pte Ltd.

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance.  

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email

Share this article!