a community of singaporeans

Extravagant help for the needy?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 31, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

The ChannelNewsAsia report “50 needy households receive free electrical appliances” (29 August) (link) said that:

“Needy residents in the South West District received various free electrical appliances on Wednesday due to an initiative by the South West Community Development Council and appliance manufacturer Akira.

Akira has donated S$120,000 worth of appliances for 50 low-income households.

A set for each household includes a kettle, stove, rice cooker, radio and cordless phone.

Mayor of the South West District, Dr Amy Khor, was on hand to give the recipients a few tips on using the appliances”.

Dividing $120,000 by 50 equals $2,400. Are these top-end very expensive appliances? A kettle, stove, rice cooker, radio and cordless phone cost $2,400?

In a similar event earlier this year – I refer to the Channel News Asia report (6 January, 2007), “Low-income workers get handouts at NTUC Downtown East event”, about “the extravagant show for the less fortunate at NTUC Downtown East organised by three unions” in January.

“1,500 people came”, and “low-wage workers have each been given food vouchers and household goods worth $40 by unions and sponsors. They benefited from the $100,000 spent on the event with sponsors donating $ 35,000 worth of goods”.

At the event, it was said that “It’s not so much the money involved in the process, as much as getting the best ideas and making sure we find the right balance”.

$40 multiplied by 1,500 people gives a total of $60,000 in food vouchers and household goods given away.

Since the goods given were worth $35,000, does it mean that the food vouchers cost $25,000 ($60,000 – $35,000) ?

Instead of spending $75,000 ($100,000 – $25,000 food vouchers) on the “extravagant show for the less fortunate”, why not just give them the $75,000 ?

The additional $50 to each person may be more helpful and meaningful to the less fortunate, than attending a one-time event with their families to eat a meal, whilst collecting the vouchers and household goods.

Calling it the “extravagant show for the less fortunate” is, in a sense, literally inappropriate, as I think the less fortunate may prefer less of extravagance, but more money ($50) instead.

Is it not somewhat extravagant to spend $50 at an event to give away $40 ?

If the $100,000 spent on the event” includes the $35,000 worth of goods, then it may not be very appropriate to say that $100,000 was spent on the event. If this is indeed the case, then spending $26.67 to give away $40 per person, is less extravagant !


10 Responses to “Extravagant help for the needy?”

  1. scb said

    It is not the gifts and programmes that were extravagant, it is the big words that came out from big mouths, used to describe them(gifts/programmes) that were(are) extravagant. It is getting very frightening when exaggerations are made so obviously as though all Singaporeans are morons. Come on my fellow charitable Singaporeans, kindly keep a little conscience in you, I am sure you do not want to be called an exaggerator or worse a liar!

  2. skloke said

    I think that they are politicising the issues and leveraging on the poor to win brownie points. I also deplore the extravagance of the fireworks, for the rehearsals and even on 2 nights following the N Day. Not when they literally burn away hundreds of thousands of dollars, and causing massive traffic jams, when all we need is to see some compassion from the ruling party.

  3. LcT said

    From a company’s POV it’s probably easier to donate goods (possibly to clear old stock) rather than give cash upfront. Also, even if the package has a retail value of $2400, for instance (even if that seems a bit high), the cost price for the company is probably lower than that? Maybe $1500 tops?

    Yes it is probably a PR exercise in maximising the advertised value of donations while minimising the cost to the company. Do I begrudge them this? Not really, I think it’s better than nothing – so Akira gets some publicity, and the needy get freebies. Cash would probably be better-received, but will not meet the company’s requirements (advertising + lower costs) as well.

    If you require corporations (or individuals, even) to donate only cash, I’m quite sure the total value of donations will drop. Prerhaps a little too practical, I know, but if this little ‘evil’ helps the needy get more, it’s an evil I embrace readily…

  4. quantum said

    This is for Africa?
    Really first-world!

  5. sevenleleven said

    the act of generousity and caring is admirable until it was used as a publicity stuns by the politicians. needless to say huge amount is being thrown into publicity than the actual act.

    another ex-NKF stun of 10 cents for every $1 from the donations goes into helping the patients

  6. sarek_home said

    A sad, realistic article with lot of dark humor for those who follow this post.


  7. Molly said

    “Mayor of the South West District, Dr Amy Khor, was on hand to give the recipients a few tips on using the appliances”

    So, our multi-talented mayors are now experts on electrical applicances as well? They know better than poor, moronic low-income earners even when it comes to using kettles!

  8. Robert said

    And the old folks can afford the electricity to use these electrical appliances? Some are already on the brink of having their electricity supply cut by $ingPower. Better off dumping these junk to Cash Converters lah!

  9. JFK said

    I believe what they are doing is right, they are helping the poor by giving them electrical appliances.

    Cash is sometimes not a good idea as we do not know how to manage our own money, example, we might invest in other companies and lose big time, and I dont think it is right for us to seek the govt assistance to cover the holes in our pockets.

    Take for example the GST. Last time if my memory serves me correctly.. it was meant to help the poor.

    I think we have a fair govt, to begin with, its a good idea to impose the GST on all goods and services.

    This inclusion of basic items (example milk powder rice and so on) is good as it it will benefit and help the poor very much.

    Remember our goal: No one is to be left behind. And dont rely too much on the govt as they have already pointed out most of the potential issues for us!

    best regards
    soul-utions provider.

    Thought for the day:
    Do what you can, while you can.

  10. JFK said

    All of this boils down to one ancient question ?

    Why do they need charity ?

    Is it because they got caught in the rise of the cost of living?

    Is it because the could not find jobs that could pay them a decent living ?

    Is it because they did not want to have kids as it was more of a liability or burden ?

    Is it because the money they make could not meet the standards of living
    example health care cost , transport etc?

    Is it because they are a forgotten voice? out of sight, out of mind

    Last but not least, did we leave them behind ?

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