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Archive for the ‘The Poor’ Category

Stories of elderly and poor Singaporeans – told by bloggers

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 19, 2008

Below is a collection of stories written by bloggers about poor, elderly Singaporeans. They are personal accounts of how some of our senior citizens and the poor live.


A Stranger, My Friend by Zyberzitizen:

A cat nearby keeps him company, sometimes laying above his head as he sleeps quietly, oblivious to the cold or the warmth. The void deck has been his home for a while now. Actually, for as long as I can remember seeing him there. What he has for blanket is a thin towel which hardly covers him, and a pillow so dirty none of us would ever use.


Sir, May I Have The Can Please? by Alex Au:

From many years ago, we’ve noticed scavengers along our roads, going from one trash bin to another, retrieving stuff that they could resell. I used to cringe seeing how they’d put their entire arm into a filthy bin just to pull out an item. The dirt, the disease, the scratches and cuts they exposed themselves to… I sometimes wondered what it must be like to have such a life, and felt sorry for them. (The picture on the left is not related to this particular story by Alex (Yawning Bread).)


Why Did I Procrastinate? by Lilian Lee:

When she placed the plate on the table, the man who was probably in his 60s, put his hand into his bermudas to search for some money. He took quite a while and finally he had his hands out with some coins in it. The lady then took whatever she needed and left the rest intact. The old man then put his hand back into the pocket.

He brought the bun to his mouth and bite into the steaming hot bun. The look he had on his face when he ate the bun was….. I …. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes.


An Old Man And His Tin Can Vases by Andrew Loh:

Throughout the entire conversation, he continues to twist the strands of tin foil with his fingers—and ever so patiently, he would apply glue to them and stick them to the main “body” of the vase…. each dollar from each vase he sells perhaps gives him a little peace of mind about tomorrow – in this ever-changing, fast-paced Singapore that he lives in.


“Sleepers” in Singapore by Diary Of A Singaporean Mind:

Everytime I work late and pass by the bus interchange near my place, I notice the growing number of homeless at the bus interchange. Each pillar at the bus interchange now has a permanent resident (PR). You ever wonder why the homeless sleep next to pillars….so that the tired people coming back from work don’t step on them when they sleep.


Would ANYONE Be Homeless By Choice? by Mr Wang:

You kept on looking for jobs, but except for the occasional odd job as a cleaner or dishwasher, you failed – you became just another one of those “structurally unemployable” Singaporeans. Finally, you couldn’t even get the cleaner/dishwasher job anymore, because the foreign workers from Bangladesh beat you to it.


Read also: The homeless and the old (in a so called First World Country) by Rachel.



Posted in The Poor | 2 Comments »

Analysis of PTC’s news release on fare increase

Posted by theonlinecitizen on September 12, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Public Transport Council’s (PTC) News release on 11 September, on the increase in bus fares from 1 October.

I would like to comment on the following:-

“PTC considered Singapore‘s economic outlook and the affordability of public transport. The economic outlook has been positive with the latest GDP gowth forecast for 2007 revised upwards to 7 to 8% and the unemployment rate for June 2007 at 2.4%, the lowest in 5 years.”

Will the positive economic outlook reverse the trend of declining nominal wages (before inflation-adjustment) for about the bottom 30 percentile of workers?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor | 8 Comments »

3rd World Savings, 1st World Cost of Living

Posted by theonlinecitizen on September 4, 2007

This is a letter from Jason, one of our readers.

It has been argued strongly that elderly Singaporeans are not saving enough, despite the CPF scheme. This is hardly surprising.

The CPF was introduced in 1955 when Singapore was a Third World colony. Our per capita GDP (at current market prices) in 1960 was S$1,306. This figure rose significantly to S$13,725 in 1983 and to S$35,552 in 1996. Today Singapore is a First World nation and this is well backed by our 2006 per capita GDP figure of S$46,832.

The transformation of our country has led to rapid increase in the cost of living as suggested by historical Consumer Price Index (CPI) data. Using 2004 as the base year (=100.0), the CPI was 31.9 in 1961 (1960 figure not available), 74.7 in 1983, 94.3 in 1996 and 101.4 in 2006. (Source for statistics:

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Posted in Current Affairs, Letters To TOC, The Poor | 3 Comments »

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?

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Posted in Leong Sze Hian, The Poor | 10 Comments »

Unanswered questions about CPF changes

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 24, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

This is in reference to media reports that the CPF Special, Retirement and Medisave accounts’ rates will be modified next year.

The question that may be in every Singaporean’s mind is whether the peg to “an appropriate long term bond rate” may result in a higher or lower average rate, compared to the 4 per cent fixed rate now?

Channelnewsasia reported Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen as saying:

“… the new rates will be lower initially than the current rate of 4 percent but it should do better than 4 percent over time.” (link)

What is the basis for the statement that “the new rates will be lower initially than the current 4 per cent but it should do better than 4 per cent over time”?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, Recommended Reads, The Poor | 15 Comments »

$150 per month for severely disabled elderly – extended by only one year?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 16, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

Media reports in July said that Singapore is in a “golden period” that can stretch out over many years.

There were two other media reports in that same week about the payout period for disabled seniors under The Interim Disability Assistance for the Elderly (Idape) scheme – which pays up to $150 a month – being extended from five to six years, and Singapore having the highest growth rate in the world for the number millionaires. (See the Ministry of Health’s website for details of who qualifies for Idape.)

One report by channelnewsasia says:

“The Health Ministry has extended the payout period for Singaporeans with severe disabilities under its Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly (IDAPE) from five to six years.”

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor | 2 Comments »

Nation Builders

Posted by theonlinecitizen on August 9, 2007

As we celebrate National Day, lets not forget the ones who are struggling and who continue to struggle on a daily basis. Many thanks to Martyn See for taking the time and effort to lend a voice to the less-abled and needy – especially the elderly.

May all of us do our small part to make the lives of our elderly a little better.

Here is Martyn’s latest film. It’s titled “Nation Builders”.

Posted in Community, Current Affairs, The Poor | 17 Comments »

More than just money needed to help poor

Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 15, 2007

This is TOC writer Leong Sze Hian’s letter to The New Paper which was published on the 14th of July, 2007.

I refer to the article ‘Would you work 2 shifts over 14 hours for $4.90 an hour?’ (The New Paper, 6 Jul) and the recent launch of the Centre for Social Development (Asia) at NUS.

Helping the poor is not so much about giving money or assistance to them. The most important areas that the poor need help in are, in order of priority:

1. Reduce the risk of losing their HDB flat and lifetime CPF savings, in the event of foreclosure by the HDB or banks.

Lower-income Singaporeans have a much higher probability of defaulting on the typical 30-year mortgage.

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Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor | 3 Comments »

CPF – F1 or F9 : Poor get less % than the rich?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 2, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

I REFER to NTUC’s proposal to reduce the CPF contribution for lower-income workers and put 40 per cent of the Workfare bonus to CPF.

On the one hand, we are putting more of the Workfare Bonus cash payout to worker’s CPF, but on the other, we are cutting their CPF contribution so that they can have more cash for living expenses.

Since both Workfare and the CPF contribution cut are for lower-income workers, are these not contradictory?

For example, if the employee’s CPF contribution is lowered from 20 to 10 per cent, and the proposed 40 per cent of Workfare is channelled to CPF, for a worker earning $600 a month, his or her take-home pay would increase by only $20 a month ($600 multiplied by 10 per cent, minus Workfare – $1,200 multiplied by 40 per cent, divided 12).

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor, TOC's Writers | 7 Comments »

CPF – F1 or F9 – Do you know who gets your CPF when you die?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on June 28, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

CPF announced the amendment of the treatment of Special Account savings invested in fixed deposits, and media reports that the CPF Board has reminded three non-bank investment administrators (IAs) that members’ CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) money used for investments cannot be parked in cash accounts.

Since the net interest rate currently, and that earned on these cash accounts for last year, was between 2.6 and 3 per cent, is it to the benefit of CPF investors to have these monies sent back to their CPF Ordinary Account (OA), which pays a lower interest of 2.5 per cent?

As fixed deposit interest rates now and since the CPF Special Account Investment Scheme (CPFSA) started about five years ago have never exceeded the 4 per cent interest paid for the Special Account (SA), why would anyone want to invest his or her SA in fixed deposits? So, why does the CPF Board allow SA monies to be invested in fixed deposits?

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor, TOC's Writers | Leave a Comment »

CPF – F1 or F9? Half also cannot withdraw anymore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on June 25, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

On Jan 22, 2007, the manpower minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, was quoted by the media thus:

‘To a question if the minimum CPF sum of $90,000 would be enough for retirement, Mr Ng said changes are being made so Singaporeans can have more money when they retire. The minimum sum, for example, is gradually being increased and the 50 per cent withdrawal rule will eventually be phased out in 2009.’

According to the CPF Board’s website, the rationale for phasing out the 50 per cent withdrawal rule is as follows:

‘As Singaporeans are living longer, and having smaller families on which to rely, they will have to depend more on their CPF for their retirement. With the cut in the CPF contributions, it has become even more important for Singaporeans to ensure they have enough CPF savings for their old age.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Leong Sze Hian, The Poor, TOC's Writers | 9 Comments »

Land of milk and money – and the politics of envy

Posted by theonlinecitizen on June 21, 2007

Singapore has changed.

And I am not talking about physical changes such as the new MRT Circle Line or the new shopping malls or even the upcoming Integrated Resorts.

One can almost feel the fundamental changes that are taking place – in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans.

Although economic progress is of course important for our livelihood, it is beginning to become the overarching, some would say over-bearing, force that threatens to consume us into an endless, meaningless cycle.

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Posted in Current Affairs, The Poor | 27 Comments »