Singapore — The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, Housing & Development Board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Social and Family Development issued a joint statement on its Facebook account to clarify an article featured in The Online Citizen (TOC) concerning a woman who was allegedly denied access to her CPF fund, despite her current medical condition and appeals made to her Member of Parliament, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
The woman, whose name is Sua Li Li but is referred to in TOC’s article as ‘Ms Soo,’ is said to be suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythemathosus (SLE) and is allegedly unable to work. The TOC article, published on December 17, said that Ms Soo, age 46, has also written to President Halimah Yacob, requesting assistance to release her CPF Funds from Medisave and Special Accounts, claiming that her savings are depleted. She says she needs access to the funds because she desires to help her daughter, a student at Singapore Polytechnic, as well as her elderly parents.
According to the article, Ms Sua’s request for her funds to be released was denied by the CPF Board.
In the joint statement, the CPF Board explained and clarified several points that had been raised in the article, mainly that Ms Sua is being actively supported by several government agencies, which TOC did not mention.
The joint statement pointed out that Ms Sua, who had been admitted to NUH for suspected lupus in 2011, went against medical advice and chose to be discharged. NUH even attempted further medical appointments for Ms Sua, albeit unsuccessfully.
Also, Ms Sua, who has gone for treatment at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) starting form last month, has been told that her expenses there will be fully covered by MediFund.
Thirdly, the statement said that the Board could not contact Ms Sua from November 19 onwards, as she had been abroad. Ms Sua has been advised by the board that her application to withdraw her CPF would be evaluated again when her doctor determines that she qualifies under the medical criteria.
Fourthly, Ms Sua’s daughter at Singapore Polytechnic is a recipient of government bursaries which fully pay for the fees of her classes, as well as provide a living allowance, with the possibility of future financial aid for university studies.
The HDB and the Social Service Office (SSO) at Yishun are also on hand to assist and advise her for her different needs. The HDB has offered suggestions to help her save money, and the SSO, which could not step in previously as she still had savings, would make sure that she would have enough to pay for her daily expenses, as well as provide a channel for emotional support.
Finally, according to the statement, “grassroots volunteers have also visited Ms Sua to render support.”
Here is the joint statement in full:
“[Ms Sua Li Li – medical expenses fully covered by MediFund; daughter‘s education supported by government bursaries]
Joint response by Central Provident Fund Board, Housing & Development Board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Social and Family Development
You may have come across an online article by The Online Citizen (TOC) on Ms Sua Li Li (identified as “Ms Soo”). TOC omitted to mention that several government agencies are actively supporting Ms Sua, which Shin Min Daily News reported on 5 Dec 2019.
In 2011, Ms Sua was admitted to NUH for suspected lupus. NUH advised her repeatedly that further investigations were necessary for a proper diagnosis. Ms Sua rejected medical advice and insisted on being discharged. NUH tried to arrange for follow-up appointments but was unsuccessful.
Since Nov 2019, Ms Sua has been visiting Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). On evaluation of her circumstances, KTPH’s medical social worker informed Ms Sua that all her medical expenses at KTPH will be fully covered using MediFund.
From 19 Nov 2019, CPFB was unable to contact Ms Sua until she returned from her overseas trip. It has since advised Ms Sua that her appeal to withdraw her CPF on medical grounds will be re-assessed once her doctor is able to certify that she meets the medical criteria.
Ms Sua has a daughter pursuing a diploma at Singapore Polytechnic. She receives government bursaries which cover her annual course fees fully and some of her living expenses. If she pursues an undergraduate education in a publicly-funded university in future, she will also be eligible for a range of financial assistance schemes.
Upon receiving an appeal from Ms Sua’s MP, HDB has been advising her on options to manage her housing instalments. These include renting out the spare bedroom in her 4-room flat or right-sizing to a smaller flat. HDB will continue to assist her.
Ms Sua was previously not eligible for ComCare assistance because she had savings to tap on. Following her recent visit to the Social Service Office (SSO) at Yishun, her request for financial assistance is being reviewed. The SSO will ensure she has the means to cope with daily expenses and has also offered to link her up with a Family Service Centre for emotional support.
In the meantime, grassroots volunteers have also visited Ms Sua to render support.”