Even in his wildest dreams, PAP MP Hri Kumar would not have imagined an “honest conversation on CPF” to turn out the way it did.
First, the national attention the conversation got. As he said in his introductory remarks at the Thomson Community Club last Saturday, the dialogue with his residents was arranged before the 50-year-old scheme became a national talking point. He had done other public dialogue sessions in the past with hardly any controversy.
Last Saturday’s was hijacked when a video of 76-year-old Renee Yap making an emotional appeal to return her CPF money went viral. Then, the discussion online turned to how she was treated by some grassroots people.
Four days later, the MP responded in his Faebook page. He said the Ministry of Manpower is looking into Ms Yap’s case and also clarified why he told the press that Ms Yap, a retired associate teacher and spinster, lives in a landed property in his constituency.
“That was in response to a question by the press. I responded by confirming she was a Thomson resident and that she lived in one of the landed estates. The remark was not meant to suggest that Ms Yap was not deserving of help.”
Opinions online remain divided about Kumar’s statement.
“I agree to a certain extent. But no matter what, he should never have disclosed where she lives, especially to the press, and he owes her an apology for that,” Jelvin Lim wrote on Kumar’s Facebook page.
Liew Patrick also commented, “I feel sad about the lies, half-truths, and misinformation that have been circulated on the Net [that Hri Kumar deliberately wanted to make Ms Yap look bad]. We need to look at better ways to communicate the truth and channels to deliver it.”
On his Facebook page, Kumar also said that Ms Yap was never manhandled during last Saturday’s forum, as some netizens had said.
The recording of Ms Yap’s plea at the forum showed that she first spoke about her difficulties with property tax and her bank.
The organisers felt it was off topic and asked her to raise the matter separately, he explained.
“No one was suggesting that Ms Yap’s issues were not real, but that this was not the proper forum.” Kumar added that she was allowed to finish her speech.
Leave aside the emotional way in which Miss Yap delivered her appeal and the online anger it has caused. The MP needs to close the loop and resolve two points she raised:
One, was money taken from her DBS account to pay her property tax?
Two, can’t she get back her all her CPF money in a lump sum because she did not take it when she was 55 years old?
We await another post by the MP.