Singapore’s inability to help citizens meet basic needs is a such shame

Former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong

Below is the response made by former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong towards the report by Channel News Asia on the plight of the elderly working poor in Singapore. 

In spite of the growing documentation of the plight of our working, elderly and unemployed poor by academics, social workers, NGOs and even our normally docile mainstream media over many years, government schemes to help them continue to be miserly, inadequate, fragmented and undignified.

As a result, some 300-400,000 Singapore citizens continue to live in such absolute poverty, not being able to regularly afford decent food, shelter, utilities, basic transport and medical attention.

Reference - A handbook on inequality, poverty and unmet social needs in Singapore by Lien Centre for Social Innovation

At the risk of nagging, the government urgently needs to :

1. Raise cash payouts on Workfare Income Supplement ( WIS ) and Silver Support Scheme (SSS) by $500-600 a month. This would immediately relieve the worst pressure to meet basic needs like nutrition, utilities, housing and necessary transport. Such help would be automatic and obviate the expensive, cumbersome, inefficient and undignified discretionary case by case distribution of even basic assistance we use today.

2. Introduce a basic unemployment insurance and protection system and minimum wage guidelines via NTUCs tripartite collective bargaining process

3. Introduce truly affordable chronic primary care /medication and long term care for ageing low and middle income seniors. Today it’s neither available nor affordable.

4. Provide sufficient subsidized decent rental flats for low income families via HDB. Today many are squeezed into small flats on unsustainable sharing arrangements because we insist on unrealistically encouraging home ownership even among the poor.

Measures 1. and 2. can be implemented in a matter of months and would cost less than 1% of GDP.

Measures 3. and 4. are also well within our long term fiscal budget resources which are among the highest in the world.

Absolute poverty or not being able to meet basic needs is a shame for a country with such resources and as rich as we are with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world

We can easily make such unacceptable poverty history in Singapore. We have the means, the schemes and one the best policy capacities.

What on earth are we waiting for !?

Yeoh Lam Keong

* This response was first posted on Mr Yeoh’s Facebook page.


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20 Responses to “Singapore’s inability to help citizens meet basic needs is a such shame”

  • capture / rent-seek:

    aiyoh, white idiots talented ability is to capture / rent-seek ‘as-much-as-possible’ value lar so that they can dole out the spending activities to make them look good & ‘generous’ / to up the gdp numbers (stimulated consumption ?) which their own white idiotic paycheck is pegged right ? that’s why you see so many upgrading projects (some look more like wasteful projects) and more and more tall buildings to accommodate their 6.9m toilet piece of paper.

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  • rukidding:

    I suspect that many supporters of this current regime ( mainly coming from Top Civil Servants , Top 30% income earners, Kia su…etc ) are “hoping” to “secure” their accumulated assets, wealth and positions.

    Many I presume are probably Owners of 2 or more houses, shoplots…etc.

    If we continue to let these group of people to “influence” the “Useless Leeder” ( sorry to say,…but he is probably also one of same kind having been silver spooned sinced birth )….you people will continue to see “defying logic laws, defying employment laws, defying land prices, defying Coes, defying taxes , defying & puzzling definitions to what is define as Foreign talents, cheaper better faster,…defying logics of how New Citizens of suspicious quality and enMasses .

    REmain daf, meek , kia su and kia si…..and you can be assured that the future will only continue to hold bright for Kids belonging to these group ,while…those at the bottom rung can wait to see your kids being Marginalised by a continue influx of New Citizens,…Cheaper 3rd world or developing nations to “steal your lunch” !

    Goodluck…Dafts !

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  • 70% live in poverty in SG:

    As a result, some 300-400,000 Singapore citizens continue to live in such absolute poverty, not being able to regularly afford decent food, shelter, utilities, basic transport and medical attention.

    Those people (the PAP) who decide on the policies that marginalize these people, and caused up to nearly 70% of Singaporeans to live from paycheck to paycheck (in poverty by the standard of the extremely high cost of living in SG) pay themselves the highest public servant multi-million dollar salaries and absurd bonuses in the world.

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  • RDB:

    When LHL was finance and DPM under PM2 Goh Chok Tong, he regurgitate at his every budget presentation in parliament that they PAP must save for our rainy days. What has happened to all those savings and in our CPF too? Are they mostly frittered away via unsound investments in especially in Temasek Holding especially after his he remarried? And in GIC too? Of not so why is transparency from these 2 SWFs setup by his late papa so questionable by democratic countries standard. So, is transparency of Singaporeans SWFs such a sticky issue PM3?

    Thus how has his papa’s politically motivated idealism of having a dominating political party governor is not wanton for questioning? Worked? Then why are fundamental issues of PAP being a “People’s Action Party” in question for taking proper care of such a large 6 figure number of Singaporeans mad poor by PAP’s economic policies up to now in question. Is PAP then not be liken to as a “Party Action People” for its own benefits?

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  • Agreed:

    Need to do more for the elderly poor here….
    Singapore costs of living is just too high for them..

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  • LHL the worst pm of Sg:

    PAP purposely designed their assistance schemes to be undignified and fragmented so that Singaporeans in need of financial assistance will be made to feel ashamed of themselves and be confused where to go about getting the help they need.

    I had once went out to test the com-care system by applying for it. i wanted to see how sincere the PAP is in helping us sinkies. Was curious what they wanted to find out before they help you. lol!

    You can try but you must restrain and control yourself from blowing your top from the questions they ask you. you will then know never to vote for the PAP when you tried. hahahaha!

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  • rukidding:

    Needless to say….a “cleansing” process is “ongoing” !

    Meritocracy here is “not real meritocracy ” and “Democratic” is more like “socialist democracy”

    All because the “meeks” have “simply allow themselves to be fcuk” for The free !

    The “North Korean of SE Asia” ?

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  • Mr Yeo is Not Kidding!:

    Gahment must start to listen to the people or else they will be voted out at PE 2017 and GE 2020!

    Never never take Singaporeans for granted!

    Not too late to do damage control though!

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  • just ranting:

    PAP will come out again to ask sinkies to diam diam and stfu again.
    Want more welfare izzit?
    Are you prepared to pay more tax?
    And sinkies will stfu.
    Singapore is a shit country la.

    the best thing to do to help yourself is vote the PAP out lah!!!!!

    wished i was never born in Singapore. want to do anything also cannot. pTUI!!

    last time young want to keep long hair, kanna marked by school discipline master.

    last time young want to listen to rock music, bas***d PAP will not allow rock music on local tv and radio station.

    now i am an old man and retired, want to keep a real “big dog” like a golden retriever or labrador as a companion in my hdb flat, hdb say cannot. HDB think sinkies all got no balls scared of big dogs so cannot keep big dog in HDB.

    knnbccb fiack singapore fiack PAP.

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  • RDB:

    Mr. Yeoh Lam Keong is being very polite to double talk to triple talk squawking bird PEE AND POO talking birdie from the birth of place in 1959 as an inheritance to the tune of of some $70 odd million Goh Choking Tongs of a pair of!

    One and all should in fact must go to Yeoh Lam Keong’s FaceBook and read they most sane and abled minds there comments as TRE’s given URL:

    And also:

    Then read CNA’s at”

    Pm3 has such a thick skin doesn’t he?

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  • siNKapOREA:

    An ordinary person earning just a decent salary would even know how to offer help in any kind, in any way if you know that your neighbours, friends or relatives are in financial difficulty and greatly in need of some assistance.

    But we have are ministers paid millions of dollars and MPs wearing many hats also earning close to 7 figures, supposedly with duties to take care of their citizens having to be told how to help our poor elderly.

    When their hearts are not in place, they can always turn a blind eye and turn a deaf ear and pretend there’s no poor under their charge. And then they’ll pat each others’ back and say “Well done! Promotion on the way” while the poor continue to struggle with poverty. Do these heartless politicians even know what is SHAME?

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  • I am Tony Tan Jiak Liao Bee:

    Billions $$$ have been lost due to poor investments in the TH and GIC, the former led by the Clown’s wife Ho Jinx.
    The billions lost could have housed and fed these disadvantaged people many times over.
    Just how much is that Jinx paid and bonuses ??? nobody knows.
    How is it that these people are paid with tax payer’s money and yet there’s no accountability from the Clown on their pay checks.

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  • Get real:

    Another point….just return our CPF…stop the bloody tweaking n twerking around with our cpf monies.
    We arent dafts. We can take care of ourselves…stop treating citizens like your walking ATMs.
    Sick n tired of the lot /PAP.

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  • No way josè:

    I was unemployed some many months ago.. So when i received brochures n flyers to apply for free internet service n free computer under the lower income criteria..i filled up the form ..luckily i read the small print before submitting it .
    Conditions stated salarywise cant be earning more than 800-1000$ a mnth.
    Have to submit all payslips for the last 6mnths…plus payslips n photostat copies if ic of self n all family members in the applicants household.
    The last bit states that an applicant cant have more than $4k in his savings account to qualify.
    I just tore up the application form….no need to be like a beggar to the gov.
    And an applicant has to understand that if approved he/she has to acknowlege that you are on gov assistance programme.

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  • Famous Amos:


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  • LIONS:

    Frankly,if one does not or cannot or REFUSE to fully understand the PLIGHT IF THE POOR,DO YOU THINK SUCH A PERSON CARES OR COULD POSSIBLY CARE for the POOR?
    I tell you LEE Hsien LOONG IS OBE SUCH PERSON;all his ENTIRE LIFE was one of LUXURY N COMFORT?

    All his BIG TALK about caring for MARGINALISED sgs is judt that-ALL TALK ONLY!
    Look at his policies and we can tell if he truly cares?

    This is not the right person to govern SG.
    He ought to step down long ago.

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  • Ali Baba:

    Lee Hsien Loong’s ONE day pay is a cleaner FOUR month of pay. Expect him to care about the society unfortunates? Where on other part of this earth can one find so great of pay disparity?

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  • Old Man:

    How many elderly are qualified for the Silver Support Scheme, talk is cheap, handout the cash is peanuts. Return the full Cpf money is the only way to help the poor elderly

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  • James Lee:

    While it was a good move in the right direction to increase the food vouchers to S$100 from S$50 last season in honor of the contribution made by all NS men both present and past,something more however can be offered especially to those veteran NS men above the age 65 years who are now retired and are living “hand to mouth” on the minute monthly payout from their CPF retirement account.These veterans were mostly enlisted for National Service soon after 1968,the year when the British started withdrawing her forces out from Singapore.It was beyond doubt that they immensely help protect our homeland during those crucial years of nation building.For that the government of modern and prosperous Singapore should naturally do her part to honor these brave veterans by :
    -Giving a month payout of S$500 to all retired veteran above 65 years of age to help boost their standard of living.
    -Converting an army camp into a pleasant and momerable holiday destination for a free 6 days/5 night stay

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  • James Lee:

    Let’s not allowed the plight of those veteran NS men age 65 and above sink further into oblivion.Harping periodic praises only increase their ego.They do not help raise their presently pathetic standard of living.It is time for the government of modern and prosperous Singapore to play her part to honor these NS men who help protect our homeland during the crucial years of nation building following British withdrawal in 1968 by:-
    -giving a monthly payout of S$500 to all retired veteran age 65 and above to help raise and shore up their standard of living.
    -provide affordable and subsidized medicare with PG benefits included.
    -Transform an army camp into a pleasant,state of the art holiday destination for free 6days/5 nights stay for the physically able veterans.

    As the saying goes…Actions speak louder than words.

    GD Star Rating
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