Are Singaporeans really that poor?

By December 5, 2017Current

TL;DR – There are always two sides to a story.

SDP recently released a video clip explaining why we shouldn’t believe PM Lee when he says that PAP cares for Singaporeans. The video has a sorrowful tune as its background music and shows images of senior citizens cleaning tables, and collecting cardboard boxes. It even has an image of this aged man lying on the ground.

The video highlighted the story of a certain Eddie, who is a 63 year-old retiree. He had built up a comfortable nest-egg for his family. But his mother and wife had cancer. The medical bills wiped out his life savings and Medisave. Now he picks cardboard with his brother. Together, on a good day, they make $20. And there are apparently many more elderly like Eddie. 23% of the elderly in the workforce earns less than $1000 a month.

And it’s not just the elderly apparently. The video also points out that the number of young households receiving aid from ComCare jumped 40% between 2012 and 2015.

But here are some things to consider,

For a start, that part about Eddie? Yes. Life is hard for him and his brother. But what the SDP doesn’t tell you is that Eddie’s brother gets $500 of public assistance a month. He also gets the Pioneer Generation Package so he doesn’t need to worry about the cost of his treatment for his high blood pressure and diabetes.

Also, while there are 23% of the elderly in the workforce in Singapore who earn less than $1,000 a month, that’s less than the 36% in 2013 and the 57% in 2003. This indicates that the income of the elderly has been increasing. Furthermore, elderly workers above the age of 60 who earn less than $2,000 a month receive Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) of up to $3,600 a year.

And you know that part about more young families on ComCare? That’s because the eligibility criteria to receive assistance from ComCare had been eased. Before 2012, in order for a family to qualify to receive assistance from ComCare, the family’s income must be less than $1,500 a month. In March 2012, the monthly household income cap for ComCare assistance was raised to $1,700. Then in 2014, the monthly household income cap for ComCare assistance was further increased to $1,900.

That means that, in 2014, a family earning a monthly income of more than $1,500 but less than $1,900 would be able to qualify for financial assistance from ComCare. This family wouldn’t have qualified for financial assistance from ComCare in 2012.

Therefore, the increase in number of families who are benefitting from ComCare may not be because more families are falling into financial distress. Rather, it’s probably because the government has eased the qualifying income criteria such that families with higher monthly incomes can also benefit from financial assistance from ComCare.

Here’s a tl;dr video summary,

(Cover image via)


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Jake Koh

Author Jake Koh

Recovering sushi addict, I'm a man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.

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