ST: ‘Sob’ stories that never ask the ‘obvious’?

I refer to the article “Why the poor are poor: Barriers, bad choices and bad luck” (Straits Times, Jul 1).

It states that “Housewife June Tholasiammal, 50, lives in a two-room rental flat and frets about medical costs. She suffers from cancer and asthma and is anaemic; her husband has a long-term medical condition too. Their combined medical fees exceed $1,000 a month and can be higher if she is hospitalised, which happened four times last year. Both their Medisave accounts are depleted.

Her condition does not allow her to work, and the family depends on her husband’s $1,800 salary as a security officer. They also have help – a monthly handout of about $700 from the Social Service Office.

But after setting aside money for medical bills, rent, groceries and expenses for their two teenage girls, there is little left for long-term plans.”

Why is it that this family of four with a household monthly income of just $1,800 can qualify for “a monthly handout of about $700 from the Social Service Office”, but “Their combined medical fees exceed $1,000 a month and can be higher if she is hospitalised, which happened four times last year. Both their Medisave accounts are depleted” – shouldn’t Medifund be taking care of their medical bills?

As to “The 44-year-old cleaner says the cramped conditions in the one-room rental flat, where the family has lived for eight years, make life difficult.

As his epileptic wife cannot work, Mr Chong is the sole breadwinner and earns a monthly keep of $1,300.

It is hard to make ends meet, he says. They have accumulated rent and utilities arrears of nearly $600. Brief respite comes in the form of cigarettes, which he spends $100 a month on” – why is there no mention as to whether they are receiving any financial assistance under ComCare, since their household monthly income is only $1,300 and they have been living in a “one-room rental flat” for eight years already?

On the same day in the Straits Times, there was an article “Multiple layers of assistance, says MSF” which said that “There are “multiple layers of assistance” for low-income Singaporeans, in areas including education, healthcare, housing, employment and retirement adequacy, says the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

“Broad-based subsidies are available for all, and at the same time, we target more help for those who need it the most,” said a spokesman in response to queries from The Sunday Times. “A network of community agencies and partners also support the vulnerable in different areas of need.”

Chief among its suite of programmes is ComCare, which disbursed $130 million to about 83,000 beneficiaries in the financial year of 2016. Besides cash, it may also help cover utilities, service and conservancy charges, medical needs and rental fees.

“MSF’s Social Service Offices work with the families to address other issues they may be facing, to enable these families to stabilise and where possible, get back on their own feet,” said the spokesman” – why is it that the above two families do not seem to be getting any or adequate assistance for their medical expenses (June Tholasiammal family) and cash financial assistance (Chong family)?

Why can’t the Straits Times try to link the stories to what financial assistance they are actually getting under the various schemes, instead of just listing the schemes available?


Leong Sze Hian



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7 Responses to “ST: ‘Sob’ stories that never ask the ‘obvious’?”

  • Always Remember:

    Straits Times is just a company newsletter for Singapore Inc.

    Like all company newsletter, the editors, writers and employees are beholden to the management and higher-ups, for a living and to feed their family.

    What else do you expect from Straits Times?

    Buy the paper if you must, have a laugh if you could, just don’t “inhale”.

    GD Star Rating
  • Bapak:

    They treat animals better than Sinkies. Those animals in the Zoo are well fed with medical specialists & keepers looking after them. Poor Sinkies are worse than animals, under PAP G. Is a shame!

    GD Star Rating
  • LIONS:

    First,most poor SINGAPOREANS are too honest.
    Th0se POOR who become rich are mostly apple-polishers or sabo-kings.
    Sure,there are FEW POOR who make
    it good through sheer honest hard work.

    How many are the rich bosses or top executives who screw the poor?

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  • RDB:

    Who is the head of ST? Another ex-minister what! End of the story!

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  • spend $130m to dispense $130m:

    ComCare disbursed $130 million to about 83,000 beneficiaries in the financial year of 2016

    Multiply 83,000 x number and layers of expensive SG civil servants hours in processing the to-and-fro paperwork, plus the equally and unnecessary number of distressing hours on the applicants in producing the supporting paperwork, assuming a very conservative $1000 on each applicant (SG civil servants’ time don’t come cheap), would that mean spending $83 million to dispense $130m?

    What about the number of civil-servant hours spent in processing those applicants whom they rejected? Would they have spent more than $130m to dispense $130m?

    Such is the intelligence and ability of our bureaucrats. No boss in the competitive private sector boss would employ such dimwits.

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  • opposition dude:

    Laughable isn’t it, so many supposed help schemes are available but people who need them aren’t getting much at all.

    Who doesn’t know that to get assistance you have to wait a long time to get it? What is the use of having the MSF if all there is to report are “many layers of financial assistance available” but the money never ever goes to help those in need?

    Wayang so much for what leh?

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  • Shaping Perceptions:

    Shittytimes and master know well that just by wayanging and making the dafts hear the right things are enough to keep them satisfied and dreaming.

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