a community of singaporeans

A brief incident which says a lot

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 14, 2008

Andrew Loh

This morning (14 April) I was at the Yio Chu Kang Community Club to apply for my Singpass account. A man, about 60 years old, was at the reception before me. We’ll call him “Ah Kong”.

Ah Kong (to the lady at the reception): Do you have the vouchers?

Lady: What vouchers?

Ah Kong: The vouchers to buy things. Got discount.

Lady: Those are for NTUC members only.

Ah Kong: It’s reported in the newspapers. Vouchers got discount.

Lady: Yes, but they are for NTUC members only.

Ah Kong: So I must join NTUC?

Lady: Yes.

Ah Kong walks out of the reception.

If Ah Kong wants to “enjoy” the “discounts”, he will now have to fork out a further $9 per month for the NTUC membership. On top of that, he will also have to pay “an annual contribution of $9 to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)”.

That is, $117 annually – to get a discount of 50 cents for every $10 that he spends – at NTUC Fairprice, pharmacies or childcare centres.

As stated in the NTUC website:

What is the subscription rate?

Payment of membership is either made through Inter-bank GIRO monthly, at the rate of *$9 per month, plus an annual contribution of $9 to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), or through cheque payment of $117 upfront, which consists of $9 per month for whole year ($9 x 12 months = $108) and an annual contribution of $9 to NTUC.
*Rates may differ for some unions.

Alternatively, Ah Kong will have to wait and hope that his MP is one of those “six of 10 MPs” who “would consider buying the newly introduced ‘U Stretch’ vouchers” – as reported in the Straits Times report, “Union discount vouchers: Residents to get them too”, April 14, Page H2.

Is this another one of those schemes which are rolled out without much thought and knowledge of the ground situation?

If Ah Kong can afford the $9 membership fee plus another $9 annual contribution to the NTUC, would he need to get the vouchers?

Would anyone?

The above is a brief but poignant incident illustrating how difficult – and costly – it is to get help from the government. Even if it’s just a 50 cents discount.



16 Responses to “A brief incident which says a lot”

  1. well…their definition of suffering or below poverty line…is you bleed until on the verge of giving up the ghost then they will discuss the issue in parliament…u think so easy huh? tan ku ku!

  2. Elfred said

    Wow~ tomorrow I go Yio Chu Kang to wait shake hands with Ah Andrew~ Hahahahaha…

    Actually, we can observe something going on at NTUC from a Union to something else especially since Mr Ong departs.

    Over the years, many commercial sectors got NTUC. Last time even heard coffins also got NTUC involved, dunno right or not.

    With cabs, insurance, and so many cashcows under the blessings of Singapore… There is certainly more room for them that can be improved; can they?

    What do you people think?

  3. Gary Teoh said

    Ya I also heard ntuc involve in so many businesses, but except coffin lah,can any one tell me, ntuc invested taxi venture in china, earn or lose money?anyone knows ?

  4. Weijia said

    “Now I hear from an associate who operates a successful business in China that NTUC Fairprice and Comfort operations in China have shuttered down completely. Ask why could NTUC Comfort (now ComfortDelgro actually) could have failed, he told me that because taxi drivers stole their cars by driving into other provinces and disappearing.”

    in the first comment.

    But on this link
    it seems everything is fine, and their involvement is much more than realised.

  5. Alan Wong said

    Who say NTUC not involved in coffin matter, remember someone previously died in airplane crash in Taiwan, his coffin was paid by NTUC Income.

    You name it, they have it.

  6. George said

    As a foreign talent once noted: Every scheme the govt publicizes looks good and so sugar-coated on paper, but the devil is in the details on closer scrutiny.

  7. Ah siew said

    i think most of the people in this forum knows about how superficial our society is run by the authority. ‘cannot never mind, pattern look nice can already.’we need to open the eyes of the other citizens who are still living in wonderland created by authority or maybe they are just too caught up daily to make ends meet for their family.

  8. Gary Teoh said

    the people running ntuc are so smart, why can lose money in china?? They thought the ppl there like singaporeans so obedient, honest.I heard many go to china do business mostly lose money,china ppl not like singaore ppl, let you manipulate!!

  9. Elfred said

    When I went to China, they thot ‘Oh, here comes another stupid Singaporean…’.

    When I left China, ‘Oh ho~ This is one is actually very smart…’.


    The issue about Singaporeans in China is this, over the years, maybe the gahmen linked has sent many big shot score-lers there, kena-ed so bad but of cos cannot admit stupid. LL, they probably window-dress here and there, and everything like growing like no tomorrow.

    The last I went to China, I go confidential meeting in helicopter one. The biggest taxi company doesn’t seem to be Singapore one.

    Beijing I went, west I went, down to Macau even. I only know Singaporean coys eaten up one by one when the ‘time is ripe’. Hahahahaha… Those coys should put me CEO instead. Hahahahahaha…

    Most of those kena-ed makaned are like this one, they have all the freaking monies, big big scale, huge huge exchange rates, but they no know China society beyond their mistresses and so on. It’s like the restaurant kena-ed makaned by the tax dept… Ironically, my ‘sis’ was with that dept. Hahahahahahahahahaha… If I CEO, I could just go buy them drink teh susu, everything settled.

    Singaporeans are very smart… at home very smart. Walk outside, cannot lah~ China people no respect you you die LL. They where got care your grandfather wat multi millionaire know what Hu Jing Tao Wen Jia Bao.

    It’s like the airlines, Singapore still dream got what ‘big bro’ ok. Hahahahahahahaha… Where got such thing one? Obviously no know China. I so long in China, never heard got tis type of things.

    Now hear they ‘donating’ an entrepreneur ind park in Zhejiang. I wish Singapore all d best.

  10. sarek_home said

    To be fair, minister Lim did say the scheme is for the not-so-poor NTUC members and it is just one of the scheme “help to the poor”.

  11. Andrew Loh said

    One cannot help but feel that the vouchers scheme is a self-promotion exercise for NTUC.

    There are many ways to help the poor, if the NTUC is genuinely sincere about it.

    For a start, the NTUC could contact all the VWOs and grassroots organisations. These orgs know where the poor people are and who they are. They deal with them on a daily basis.

    Give the vouchers – FREE OF CHARGE – to them. And for goodness’ sake, give them more than a 5 per cent discount. NTUC can jolly well afford it.

    Any of you remember how the same NTUC could build a $400,000,000 ($400 million) NTUC HQ which now sits proudly in Shenton Way in the midst of our economic depression in 2003?

    Yet, the poor are now being exploited to join NTUC if they want to get the very generous 50 cents discount.

    Yes, pay them $9 first before you get the 50 cents discount.

    I think Lim Swee Say should be totally ashamed of himself.

  12. Dear Mr Andrew Loh and Mr Leong Sze Hian,

    Thank you so much for revealing this disgraceful scam.

    I have never been so frustrated that I have to use filthy language in what I write.

    As you are over 18, may I invite you to to get a feel of how I feel.

    Has Singapore reach a stage where its leaders know no shame?


  13. Gary Teoh said

    Andrew Loh and Leong perform much better than any oppositions , may I suggest you bloggers participate in the election to contribute to society, whether win or lose it does not matter,important is to bring the message across.

  14. joker said

    Overheard on an MP’s daughter’s blog:

    “Get out of my elite unsmiling face, Ah Kong! Why are we spending government money on handouts to these people?”

    “I spit dirty saliva on you!”

  15. gleechoo said

    Thank you for raising this. Are there ways to educate our public to read between the lines?

    If what Joker commented was true, Singapore is heading for real trouble with this new generation! I dread on…how they will treat the elderly in due time?

  16. kong-se-me said

    Poor AH KONG….(shake head)
    What happen to ah kong later??
    AH LOH please contiune de kor si. thank you.

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