Singapore – It is wrong that some people are taking advantage of the relief support schemes provided by the Government to help those severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee.

On Tuesday (April 7), Mr Lee mentioned on Facebook that more than 100,000 Singaporeans badly hit by the crisis had applied for assistance from the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF). Those eligible will receive one-time assistance of S$500 via cheque or PayNow.

Mr Lee noted that colleagues and volunteers from the Social Services Offices and People’s Association had been working tirelessly to process and disburse the funds as quickly as possible to those in need. They had made adjustments to make the application process more accessible and accommodated a wide variety of supporting documents from people to prove their eligibility. Those with no documents could make a legal declaration on the form and the application would be accepted.

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However, it would seem that some are abusing the scheme. “Many people have sent me screenshots which suggest that a very small number of people are taking advantage of the schemes, or encouraging others who do not need help to try to ‘cheat’ the system,” he said.

Mr Lee mentioned a screenshot, according to a report on on April 7, of a message from someone who had received assistance. The message said: “I can’t believe this! No document also can get the S$500! So simple to cheat.”

“No, you are not cheating just the Government,” said Mr Lee. “You are doing this at the expense of many Singaporeans who are in genuine crisis, and need this help.”

Mr Lee said that he and his colleagues were “disheartened” to hear such news and added that those who brought up the abuse were “rightly indignant”.

Mr Lee added that their priority for now is to disburse the TRF, and the Covid-19 Support Grant, among other support schemes. “We need to focus on improving the way we provide assistance, to help affected people and vulnerable communities,” he said.

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In case anyone was wondering if the abuse would go unpunished, Mr Lee said reports had been made to the Minister of Law and Home Affairs, Mr K Shanmugam.

There has been angry reaction to the cheating on Mr Lee’s Facebook page, especially from those in dire need of financial assistance during this crisis. Others felt that it would not be too late to go after those abusing the scheme when it is over.

Photo: FB screengrab / Desmond Lee
Photo: FB screengrab / Desmond Lee
Photo: FB screengrab / Desmond Lee
Photo: FB screengrab / Desmond Lee
Photo: FB screengrab / Desmond Lee

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