The Government should give details of how much aid was given to dispel distrust in our welfare system.

I refer to the articles “Interview with Tan Chuan-Jin: Early action to break cycle of poverty in Singapore” and “Online pleas for aid: Govt may step in with details, says Tan Chuan-Jin” (Straits Times, Jul 17).

The former states that “The Government is also stepping in earlier to help workers and families who are showing signs of financial struggle yet would not usually qualify for ComCare aid.”

Half of them “would not usually qualify for ComCare aid”?

Since “Last year, nearly half of approved applications for short- to medium-term aid were granted to such beneficiaries, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Some were offered a higher cash quantum or had their period of aid extended if they still could not find jobs” – does it not arguably indicate that the ComCare criteria may need to be reviewed – since “half of approved applications” “would not usually qualify for ComCare aid”?

One-sided stories of the poor?

The latter article states that “The authorities will be stepping in earlier to set the record straight – including by disseminating information about cases – should individuals give what they deem misleading or one-sided accounts when appealing for donations online.

“We may desensitise the information, perhaps anonymise it somewhat, without going into too many details, to help the public understand the context,” said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

This comes at a time when individual appeals online, especially those with heartrending circumstances, have managed to garner six-figure sums in donations.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) stepped in to clarify facts when a 20-year-old woman shared on in May about having to be the breadwinner for 11 family members, as her cancer-stricken father could work only part-time as a security guard, saying a social worker provided her family with only dry rations. MSF said it had been assisting the family for 5 1/2 years, and they also get ComCare and other aid.

In January, MSF also made public details of aid given to a homeless man seen at a Bugis fast-food outlet when an article by website All Singapore Stuff claimed he was denied aid by Social Service Office staff and other agencies.”” – I believe the issue may be that whenever there was a clarification on those getting aid – the details were scant as to how much financial and/or other assistance they were getting and for how long?

Give details of how much aid?

It may be quite pointless to say that the stories on social media are not accurate because the persons were getting aid, without details of the aid.

More transparency on how much aid under what circumstances?

Why not disclose the ComCare criteria as to how much assistance is allocated for how long under what circumstances?

Without more transparency – “to help the public understand the context” – stories that give the impression that they are falling through the cracks or that the Government may not be doing enough may continue.

Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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