Tuesday, 15 February 2011


A Personal Phone Call from the Mayor of Lyngby-Taarbæk County

Today, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call at 8.30 pm which lasted for approx. 15-20 minutes from the Mayor, Søren P. Rasmussen, of Lyngby-Taarbæk Kommune, the county which we recide. We had written a letter to express our disappointment over the closure of the daycare for 3 weeks in the month of July this year, which will cause a lot of inconvenience for us in terms of juggling work and child care. The Mayor called and explained to us why they are doing that. They are encouraging or almost forcing Danish parents to take time off to spend with their children. Also they are facing budget shortage to run the daycare for the whole year. They would gather the children of those parents who need daycare into fewer daycare centres, so as to cut cost. We explained that we would prefer to pay more for the 3 weeks to keep the daycare open, but he explained that not all citizens can afford to make the extra payments, and he should take into account the needs and resources of other families. It also made us reflect and be more aware that we should think more of others, and that more payment can solve our problem, but not necessarily other families.

The Mayor spoke with me and asked if I would prefer to speak Danish or English. The willingness of him to go out of his way to speak in another language touched me a lot. He later spoke with my Significant Other, and we were both very touched by a Mayor who calls his citizens personally and listen to them. Our anger over the daycare closure issue subsided after this call. He has opened a dialogue and made us understand the issue from different angles.

This reminded me of another similar incident encountered by my friend, whose family moved to Lillerød last September. She told me that she had received a welcome visit from the county civil servant. During the visit, it came across clearly that they showed concern over how the new family is settling in, and how the toddler is coping. When they heard that my friend, who is Thai, is trying to speak Danish with her toddler, they kindly advised her to speak to the little boy in her own mother tongue, which is Thai. The generosity of Lillerød County to "decrease themselves" and "increase others" in language tolerance heap burning coal in my mind as described in Romans 12:17-21.

What a large society Denmark is. The fact that the civil servant in Lillerød went out of their way to visit a new family is really heart-warming and commendable. It is not the norm, of course, that we receive personal visits from the county administrator, and I have never had such an encounter.

In most countries, money works to solve many things, but not here in Denmark. The more well-to-do are treated equally and cannot pay their way out. I am beginning to appreciate this more and more, as it keeps the more well-to-dos more level-headed in Denmark.

How many countries in the world would one see such a humble Mayor personally calling his citizens, even the foreigners? I don't think there are many. I wonder how it is like in Singapore, since I am away from home for 10 years now?

Denmark is not a perfect country, but when the going gets tough being an immigrant in a foreign country, which is now my second home, may I always remember all the kind, sincere and wonderful Danes that I have met along the way from my ex-boss Louise Kruger Koefod to the civil servant in Lillerød County and our own Mayor, the generosity of the Danish state in providing me with totally free master education and the various scholarships I have received from the various Danish foundations.

There is bright future for Denmark, with such a wise, sincere, hard-working and caring politician and ministers in high position, setting a good example top-down.

May I learn to have a large heart like many Danes and the larger Danish society.

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