The following story has been circulating online. In it, SDP’s candidate for Bukit Batok By-Election, Chee Soon Juan (CSJ) is seen lamenting the plight of a 83 year-old Ah Ma earning $1,050 a month cleaning tables in a coffee shop 6 days a week.
As part of his political campaign, CSJ has chosen to focus on the plight of lower-income Singaporeans. This is an obvious attempt to tug at the emotional heart-strings of Singaporeans. Unfortunately, CSJ has chosen to tell only half the truth.
On the surface, everyone will agree that $1,050 per month is indeed low by today’s standard. As a seasoned politician and someone who claims to be very concerned about lower-income Singaporeans, CSJ should be well aware of the various government schemes in place to help this vulnerable group.
While Ah Ma would indeed earn a mere $1,050 on her own, the G supplements her income with an additional $310 in cash and additional $270 in CPF. This means that Ah Ma actually earns $1,630 per month.
A quick glance at the G schemes that Ah Ma would qualify for in 2016 ...
Total (per year)
Workfare Income Supplement
Silver Support Scheme ($250 per month from July)
GSTV U-Save (4-room)
S&CC Rebates (2 months for 4-room)
CSJ is quick to point out that Ah Ma earns only $5.50 an hour and only gets 1 day off a week. Chee Soon Juan fails to offer any solution. Any G would want to pay Ah Ma more. Any G would want to give Ah Ma more off days. Perhaps, for CSJ who has not held a job in the past 20 years and yet can own a HDB and drive a car, money falls from the sky. Unfortunately, we live in the real world.
CSJ is intentionally leaving out important information to serve his own personal agendas. In fact, other than what Ah Ma receives above, Ah Ma should also qualify for a few other G schemes like CHAS, which would help to bring down her cost of living.
There is also a recent video that interviewed Ah Ma and she said she is actually rather happy working. Why? Because working is optional (as she has a family taking care of her) and she gets to exercise while working.
The key points are these:
#1 - Chee Soon Juan cannot be trusted as he will lie (or shape the truth) for his own benefit
#2 - Not everything in life should be measured in dollars and cents. And even if we insist on using dollars and cents as the measure, the G will ensure that no one is short-changed or left behind, especially if you are willing to work and earn your own living.