Thursday, February 05, 2009

Govt Help - What it is really like.......

"Whatever it is, one way or another, we will make sure that anyone who needs help, gets help,” - PM Lee [United, we stand out]
'Please empathise with people with seek assistance and be more sympathetic to those who find themselves in difficult situations,' - Mr Wee Siew Kim, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, 5 Feb 2009[link]
"Wow is that the same Wee Siew Kim ....the guy with the famous daughter" - Lucky Tan
According to Mrs Yu-Fu, if you need help just ask for it[Link]. Simple right? Yet only $1.6M out of $6M in CC CDC funds in the MCYS was disbursed- hey they can't find enough needy people to give it out to?
Here is a story that shows what kind of help a low income family can get when the sole bread winner loses his job. The social worker in the story is Ravi Philemon who gave a speech at the Speakers Corner [link]a few months ago on about social justice....I can now see where he gets his motivation from.
No money, so girl, 6, misses 3 weeks of school
Social worker pays fees out of own pocket so she can be re-admitted
By Genevieve Jiang February 05, 2009 TNP PICTURES: KUA CHEE SIONG FOR the first three weeks of this year, a 6-year-old girl did not attend school. Her mother, Lynn, said it was because the family was too poor to afford her kindergarten fees, despite getting several government subsidies.The 28-year-old part-time rental agent told The New Paper she had not paid the fees for four months last year, and owed the kindergarten another $115 for books.Because of the outstanding arrears of about $230, the school - a PAP community foundation kindergarten at Woodlands Drive 16 - told Lynn her daughter need not return to school last month, she alleged. But a spokesman for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) said the kindergarten had not given Lynn any 'specific warning that her child would not be allowed to continue her K2 education at the centre'. (See report on facing page.)Yet it wasn't until a community worker from a voluntary welfare organisation intervened, and paid the kindergarten out of his own pocket, that the child returned to school on 22 Jan.Lynn did not want to be identified for this article as she did not want to cause her four children any embarrassment.Looking for help GOOD SAMARITAN: Mr Ravi Philemon got to know about Lynn's case middle last year, when the family asked for help at the homeless shelter where he works. Mr Ravi Philemon, a manager at a shelter for homeless families here, first got to know about Lynn's case in the middle of last year, when the family approached the shelter for help.They feared they might lose their home as they had not been paying the monthly $900 mortgage on their four-room flat in Woodlands for the past 11/2 years, he said.Mr Ravi stepped in when he realised the girl had not been attending school.He said: 'I called the kindergarten and was told that the mother had to pay the registration fees and deposit before her child could be re-admitted to school.'Surely no child should be deprived of an education under any circumstances.'Mr Ravi said that the kindergarten's administrator told him they had tried to help the family cope by offering Lynn a job of packing and wrapping books at the school late last year, but she declined.She would not be paid, but the school would waive what she owed them for the work she put in.Said Mr Ravi: 'But she not only had three other young children to care for, she also had to take care of her sick mother.'Her circumstances simply didn't allow her to work.'He accompanied the family to the kindergarten and paid the registration fees and deposit - about $130 - so that the girl could return to school.Lynn claimed their money problems started in 2006 after her husband lost his full-time job at an engineering company.She said that her husband, 33, who was taking home about $1,200 a month, continued working at the same company, but was hired on an ad-hoc basis and paid a daily rate of $42.On a good month, he would take home between $800 and $1,000, she said. But during some months, there is no income at all.The couple has two daughters, aged 6 and 2, and two sons, aged 9 and 4. Her eldest boy is in Primary 4, and his school fees are waived.At the time, Lynn did not have a full-time job. Her brother, his wife and their eight-month-old child, were then also living with her because the couple didn't have enough in their CPF to afford a flat.Whenever Lynn could get friends to babysit her children, she worked part-time as a maid, earning $8 an hour.Lynn's husband, who dropped out of school after Primary 6, tried looking for various jobs over the past two years, including those in security and clerical jobs. He didn't succeed because he had no computer skills and could not speak English well.The family has been surviving since 2006 with help from the North West Community Development Council (CDC) and friends.That year, they got $220 from the ComCare fund for three months, and another $200 from the CDC's interim financial scheme.Between November 2007 and October last year, the CDC also helped the family with $365 every month, which included help for utilities, service and conservancy charges.Despite the help, the family has not been able to pay the monthly mortgage for their flat. To date, they owe the bank more than $16,000, she claimed.The couple has had to pay their instalments in cash because there is little left in their CPF accounts. Lynn's CPF statement, dated 28 Jan this year, showed that she only had $40 left in her ordinary account.A HDB spokesman said that since 2005, it has helped her with interim measures such as allowing her to pay a reduced monthly instalment.But she was still unable to cope.Working things out HDB is currently working with the family to sort out their financial problems.In June last year, Lynn sought help at the shelter for homeless families where Mr Ravi worked. Things were particularly bad during this period because Lynn's husband did not manage to get much work.Since last year, the child has been on the Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme (Kifas). She gets a subsidy of $82 and has to pay $28 a month in school fees, but was still unable to pay the school fees.Lynn found part-time work as a rental agent in October last year, where she is paid based on commission. She has not been able to earn a regular income, and took home $200 in December.Currently, the CDC still helps the family every month with $375.She said: 'I want to sell my place and downgrade, but that takes time and money, and I have nowhere to go in the meantime. Renting a place will also take time.'Both Lynn and her husband are still trying to get full-time jobs.She said: 'I want my kids to be able to go to school and do well for themselves.'


Anonymous said...

Lucky, it saddens me to read your article, especially if it is a true story. It is especially heart wrenching when I recall our PM speech in 2006 "I agree completely with MPs - Dr Lily Neo, Mr Arthur Fong, Mr Ong Ah Heng, Ms Eunice Olsen - who said that it is important to concentrate on children of lower-income families so that they can, in turn, help to lift their families out of poverty. We have a comprehensive approach that includes early intervention, making sure that education is affordable to all, reducing school dropout rates and strengthening vocational training pathways. The Opportunity Funds support our commitment to help these children." What kind of country that aspire to Swiss standard of living would deny a child the basic right to education for a shortfall of S$230? What is our world highest paid civil servants doing to ENSURE that the direction set by our PM is being taken seriously and acted upon instead of having 5-weeks holidays in France????

Anonymous said...

IMHO, civil servants are more self-serving rather than being there to serve the public with diligence. Those in CDC especially have no sense of urgency. Then again, the public knows this too well. It takes 3 months to apply before application may be approved. By then heaven help anyone in need if it takes that long a time for any help given. Calling CDC to know what is happening in the approval process can be very daunting. Maybe they have seen and heard too many hard luck stories so their hearts are hardened and therefore cannot empathise with those suffering.

Anonymous said...

A hospital that does not believe in handling out crutches so as to discourage its patients from developing a crutch mentality.

This driven by a belief that those who can walk will choose to have a crutch if given the option. How distanced from reality is that?

Crystal Klear said...

why am i not surprised at this post? pple, wake up ur ideas ok!

this gahmen prides itself on abolishing all indications of a welfare state. we're constantly drilled that there is no free lunch, no subsidy, nobody owes us a job, poor pple shld not have too many children, graduate mothers to be encouraged etc etc etc.

the fact that there is so much vitriol behind the Great Debate of Increasing to $290 Subsidy, shld point out clearly the sort of compassion they have for the poor.

can anything else be clearer under the sun???

Onlooker said...

Ravi is a very good example of citizen helping citizen When the garment FAIL.
And The Garment Fail Big and Fail a lot recently.
The other side of this spectrum. Brutal truth:- people with $$$millionaires$$$ parent are studying Overseas Using OUR money. What irony.
The Communism of the elites.

Anonymous said...

hi onlooker,

you are right! for some reason we are in the minority who can see what is going on.

One of the problem is this: most singaporeans want their children to have IQ of 147 and become future CEOs but the natural law doesnt work this way. a few will have congenital disease but most will be average.

Those born talented with high IQs can always take care of themselves, with or without govt scholarships. The success of a country depends on the "Average Joe" because Average Joe is the majority. Can the Average Joe:

1. Pay for medical bills?
2. Earn enough to raise a family with roof over their heads?
3. Retire with dignity?

If a country fails to solve these 3 basic questions then by every definition, it is a failed state.

The $3million dollar question to me is: Why can't the majority of my fellow singaporeans admit that we have failed each other?


Economist with a heart :)

Clear eyed said...

Is it any surprise that public servants who are paid stratospheric salaries lose touch with the ground? Too much money earned too easily and without worry of ever losing their jobs has lulled them into a deep complacency where even their conscience and humanity have gone to sleep. To have a more compassionate and caring government and greater social justice here, we need leaders and public servants who do not demand $millions salaries but rather answer to the nobler call of public service.

yamizi said... a moment, our PM said help extend to all; another moment SM said reserve not meant for welfare.

So how this help comes about? Very confusing!

Anonymous said...

The brutal fact of life is:You have no money,you die,and you die.

By Mr Wee Siew Kim, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC

Wow is this the same Ah Wee now who talks like an angel?ha,either erection is coming or PAP has sent Ah Wee for a wayang course,and he has successfully completed.

But I sincerely pray that Ah Wee has changed his mind and now intent on serving the people,mainly the very poor people.

Anonymous said...

Next, the main stream media will paint a negative picture to shame the poor girl's family -
oh - the husband refuse to go for training
oh - we already gave them vouchers
oh - the mom refuses to work.

I say it is time all preprimary children be given a cash grant of $100 EVERY MONTH and preschool education made compulsory.

Anyone who wants to go to Pat School house can pay the difference.

Come on - cabinet ministers - put your money where your mouth is.

It is precisely the idea that all bureacrats have of the poor - that they are lazy, that they refuse to work. This bothers me a lot.

In the meantime, the job credit scheme will take the money for taxpayers - yes the GST that the mother Lynn , the old, the retrenched pays) - and give it to SMRT / Delgro to pad up their profits, so that at next year end, they will declare whopping profits and their CEOs get whopping bonuses and go for cooking courses in Gay Paris.

See how JCS has a multiplier effect on the economy? I don't.

Anonymous said...

"It is precisely the idea that all bureacrats have of the poor - that they are lazy, that they refuse to work. This bothers me a lot."

Not all bureacrats think this way. But rather the ideology of right-wing neo-Republicans aka PAP.

Anonymous said...

Oh I can tell u why they are in such difficult state. Most of the gov subsidy do not go to those low-income families with more than 2 children. (To discourage them to have kids) I personally pity them, but if you want to play the game well, u need to understand the game rules as well. Of coz the gov shld do more to help, but the parents cannot run away innocently as well.

Anonymous said...

It's time for Singaporeans to vote these jokers out of parliament.

Anonymous said...

1.2k per month and want to raise 4 kids in sg. What is this couple thinking? They are really asking for trouble...

Anonymous said...

Paying $900 pm for their 4 room flat is extremely difficult based on their income. What were they planning when they bought their flat 1 1/2 years ago?

Xtrocious said...

Yup, quite fishy leh the "story"...

How could they have gotten a housing loan that has a S$900 monthly instalment when her husband is only earning S$1200/month at best?

If this is true, then someone somewhere must have screwed up to allow this purchase to go through...

Anonymous said...

We don't know their history and stop jumping to conclusion.
Will this family be allowed to buy a four room flat if their past income didn't exceed x dollars, remember there is an income ceiling for buying each category of flat.
Likewise with the number of children they have.
Just because we are better off doesn't mean we can pass judgement on others.

Blistering Barnacles said...

Anyway, Lucky Tan, I have been a long time reader of yours, since before your old blog name was taken over by a seller of wheelchairs.. And i want to thank you for your insights; funny and thought-provoking. Keep writing!

And to any PAP MPs, supporters who may be reading this blog; sure by all means diss this as "anti-PAP" and all that, but do your own research to see if what is written is true and logical. If so, are you going to change your minds and see the short-comings of the present ruling party and its policies for what they are? Or are you all as dogmatic as what you make out all the netizens (bacteria, i read) to be? Supporting the same system regardless of what faults have surfaced?

Whatever is the case, I believe all humans with a heart will not, cannot, stand by and say these people do not deserve more help from our "elected" government. We are Singaporeans, and we need a Singapore for Singaporeans, not a Singapore for Corporations.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we may even run a surplus from this extraordinary budget ...

Anonymous said...

Guys, any idea how I can make a donation to the Homeless Shelter that Ravi works for? My wife is compelled to make a donation after reading the article. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Whatever mis-planning or ill fortune the parents may have gotten into .. the children shud not suffer becos of that.

In Australia, that's our guiding principle to free education.

Every child should be given a basic education by the state, no matter what his or her parents had done to mess up their lives.

The child should not be penalised. Those who question the parents' decisions failed to see the benefits of having one child schooled properly and not end up a delinquent one day.

That child that tax payers failed to support may cause the society a lot more pain, in the future.

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