SINGAPORE: Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) recently wrote about Singaporeans who are not “officially” poor but “living in conditions that most of us would consider poverty” and getting little by way of government support.
Assoc Prof Lim wrote this after visiting the residents of 302 Anchorvale, the ward he has represented in Parliament since 2020. He wrote that the block had been originally designed with “jumbo” apartments, but these were split up, possibly due to poor take-up.
“So they tend to be on the small size, with what seems to be disproportionately more elderly and lower-income residents,” he wrote, citing the example of a couple in their 70s.
“They survive on a meager CPF payout, because they worked modest jobs previously. But because they do draw something—however little—and their three-room flat isn’t a rental, they end up not being directly covered by any assistance from social services programs. So despite living in conditions that most of us would consider poverty, they aren’t officially poor (). These are Singaporeans that slip through the cracks.”
However, he noted that the mindset of the couple was “remarkable”. They take care of their own needs, not wishing to place this burden on their children, though they get “essentially nothing” from the government.
Assoc Prof Lim added that the couple’s biggest fear is not how they’ll manage on a daily basis but the different scams and frauds that would threaten their savings.
“This resilience is admirable, but I wish that, as a country, we can do more for the family, and families like this. There is a weekly food rescue and monthly food ration that we assist with in #SengkangGRC, which helps plug some of the gap that isn’t met by official channels.
But I personally think that such movements are a reflection of some degree of state failure, driven by a stubborn policy ethos of self-reliance that may have been appropriate while we were a resource-constrained developing nation, but less applicable to one that is routinely among the highest in per capita incomes worldwide.” /TISG
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