Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Who Can You Rely On, and Why?": Interview with Wicknesh Maratheyah

This week, SG Assist interviewed Mr. Wicknesh Maratheyah, SG Assist's Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), also managing director of Voltz Energy Singapore. In this interview, he discusses his personal reasons for supporting SG Assist, as well as the reasons why he believes in SG Assist's potential to transform the lives of ordinary Singaporeans.

At first glance, it may not be obvious how Wicknesh's job as a managing director at Voltz Energy, an electricity comparison platform established in 2017, led to his decision to support SG Assist.

Voltz Energy's goal is to empower Singaporeans to "make the right decisions" when choosing affordable electricity plans. Meanwhile, SG Assist is an app that allows working adults to check on their loved ones at home. Using the virtual platform, caregivers can swiftly respond to their loved ones’ needs without leaving the workplace by requesting for Kampong Heroes—trained community volunteers—to assess the situation.

So how do Voltz Energy and SG Assist relate to each other? For him, his work for both is inspired by a common goal: what drives him is his desire to help people in whatever way he can.

"My focus in life is always about helping people in terms of basic necessities," says Wicknesh. "I'm a Singaporean born and bred, so another aspect which we are all looking at is the family."

To Wicknesh, the family unit is a "basic essential need in life," which is why he believes in the vision of SG Assist. The closest that Singapore has come to creating a platform that engages its citizens in real time is perhaps the myResponder app, launched by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in 2015. One core function of the app is to alert CPR- and AED-trained residents to cardiac arrest cases within a 400-metre radius, enabling them to respond to and de-escalate medical situations before the arrival of emergency medical services.

SG Assist, too, shares the same goal of quick response and de-escalation - but, as Wicknesh asks, "If you think about it, is there an app that covers the whole demographic? No." While the myResponder app priorities cardiac arrest cases, there was a lack of a platform devoted to serving all kinds of medical situations. Thus, this inspired him and the other founders of SG Assist to create an app that would serve all Singaporeans, regardless of why they might need it.

His relationship with his mother also inspired him to work on SG Assist. After his father passed away when he was just ten years old, his mother single-handedly raised him and his siblings to adulthood.

She was only fifty years old when she began experiencing heart palpitations, which was revealed to be a symptom of bronchitis. He recalls an incident during which his mother suffered heart palpitations and a panic attack while he was at work. As this was in the early 2000s, she was unable to contact anyone for help by phone; she also did not have a helper on whom she could rely for assistance. Fortunately, one of Wicknesh's aunts happened to visit their home to distribute wedding invitations, which allowed his mother to receive the help she needed.

In a similar non-emergency situation today, the dependent at home - for example, an expecting mother or homebound parent - could notify their caregiver about an onset of illness via the SG Assist app. The caregiver could then request a Kampong Hero to visit their dependent at home to assess the situation.

Working adults are often too busy to constantly monitor their parents' health, but Wicknesh points to another phenomenon in Singapore: elders born in the Merdeka generation prefer to live an independent lifestyle. "But what they don't realise is that, no matter how independent you are, when your body shuts down, you just can't do certain things."

Wicknesh believes that a community-based effort would have a transformative impact on Singaporean society as it empowers vulnerable citizens and caregivers alike. This is especially necessary for a modernised, work-oriented society that Wicknesh says results in a predicament of, "Who can you rely on and why?"

That's why SG Assist would only be effective with a kampong lifestyle, he adds. To him, the Merdeka generation was an embodiment of the kampong spirit, when neighbours were more communicative and eager to interact with one another.

When asked whether he believed Singapore still has the kampong spirit now, he offered: "I think they want to [have the kampong spirit], but I don't think they have the ability or facility to execute it," which is the reason why he believes in the power of SG Assist: with luck, it could become the foremost community-based platform to reignite our kampong spirit.

"You should be alert at all times," says Wicknesh. "Prevention of escalation. That's our primary objective."

The importance of alertness and awareness makes up the core of SG Assist's vision: that caregivers are always up-to-date on the health and well-being of their less able family members.

With lofty but attainable goals in mind, SG Assist aims to provide a sense of security to both caregivers and their dependents. For more information on SG Assist, visit our website today at

Written by Liyana Adnan

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Interview with Angelyn Tan

Angelyn Tan, a recent junior college graduate and current intern at Singapore Teachers' Academy for the aRts, shoulders the burden of planning out her entire future at only nineteen years old. She, like many young Singaporeans, worries about many things: what she intends to do in the next months, years, and decades. At the moment, her biggest anxiety is charting out a future where she can balance both her family and personal life. In this interview, she tells SG Assist about her relationship with her parents, her worries about the future, and what she thinks of the SG Assist app. Read more to find out.

As a design intern, Angelyn is a cog in a well-oiled machine operated by experienced arts educators and artists. Her work involves graphic design and illustration, content writing, marketing, editing, publishing, logistics, and connecting with local artists. Her creative streak is evident in her choice of work, and one that informs her arts-oriented ambitions for the future.

She has applied to various universities in the United Kingdom to study English Literature or History – in some places, both. For an avid literary student, to go to a university in the UK to study the arts would be a dream for Angelyn – after all, it is the birthplace of the literary canon, with opportunity aplenty to pursue a career in the humanities. However, another part of her identity pulls her back to Singapore – her family.

She cannot bear to leave her parents alone in Singapore. Her parents are both fifty-six years old, which means that by the time she graduates from university, they would be in their early sixties. “I’m very close with them because I’m an only child,” she says. She believes that it is a natural consequence of there being “no one else around” to keep her parents busy. She doesn’t expect this relationship to change in the future: she would rather stay in Singapore than travel overseas to pursue more lucrative opportunities, if only to stay close to her parents.

In fact, Angelyn doesn’t intend on moving out of Singapore at all. She says that she wants to be ready to provide for her parents if something happens to them. “I don’t want to be overseas and receive news of something happening to them while I’m not around, and I can’t help them.” Her sentiments are broadly adopted throughout Asian culture, in that her filial loyalty supersedes all else.

Angelyn believes that the SG Assist app has the potential to help young Singaporeans make more prudent decisions if they’re assured of the health and safety of their parents. “I’d definitely use the app,” she says, because according to her, it would mitigate her fear of something happening to her parents without her knowledge. In a high-pressure situation where loved ones are suffering from a medical emergency at home, it would enable working adults like Angelyn to request swift assistance from a Kampong Hero nearby.

She also says that she would be open to volunteering as a Kampong Hero if an opportunity presented itself. As SG Assist is a community-based effort, generosity of spirit like Angelyn’s has the potential to rejuvenate the “kampong spirit” in modern Singapore. She expressed even more excitement about becoming a volunteer when told that she could learn first-aid skills, CPR techniques, and how to use an AED so that she could help a nearby resident in an emergency.

The purpose of SG Assist is to empower everyday Singaporeans in their relationships with their loved ones and their work-life balance. For future working adults like Angelyn, the app will enable them to both oversee the safety of their parents, as well as volunteer to ensure the safety of others if needed. To learn more about SG Assist, visit our website today.

Written by Liyana Adnan

Our thanks to Angelyn Tan for sparing the time for this interview.

"Who Can You Rely On, and Why?": Interview with Wicknesh Maratheyah

This week, SG Assist interviewed Mr. Wicknesh Maratheyah, SG Assist's Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), also managing director of Volt...