Question for Charles Chong

In Political governance on 20/10/2011 at 4:46 pm

I hear Charles Chong will speak in parliament tomorrow. Doubtless he will talk about helping the needy. It’s the in- thing in the PAP to want to help the needy. (This is of progress of sorts. Only recently, Lily Neo was berated and sneered at by VivianB for asking for more help for the poor. When that happened, I tot of Oliver Twist asking for more food and being beaten for his pains.)

But I would like to ask Charles Chong, “Must a needy S’porean still lose his dignity for a $30 voucher?”.

Let me explain the background by winding the watch back some years.

In the early noughties, when S’pore was in a recession or recovering from one, one Charles Chong said, “We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.” Charles Chong was explaining his (and some other PAP MPs’) reluctance to distribute free electricity vouchers on the ground that giving these to the needy would create a culture of dependence.

After reading this remark, I began to have serious problems with the attitude of the governing party. (Previously I had been indifferent to the PAP, even though before 1991, I was a “LKY is almost always right” and “LKY has his heart in the right place” person.)

This remark of Charles Chong also prompted a writer to MediaCorp’s freesheet to ask,”Can a Singaporean no longer lend a hand … without being accused of encouraging a crutch mentality? Aren’t we allowed to feel compassion for another? …cannot use for any other purpose except to pay your utility bill. There is no need to make people beg for that.”

I don’t recall the government or Charles Chong responding to this letter.

Wind the watch back to today.

I am hopeful under “Kee Chui” Chan and Halimah Yacob, based on their rhetoric and actions (so far), the MCYS will ensure that the needy will get

— more help instead of being berated and sneered at for purporting to want hawker or restaurant food as happened when VivianB was running MCYS; and

— to retain their dignity when they seek help, the Charles Chongs of the PAP notwithstanding.

  1. All this is for show and marketing to the daft masses via the MSM. No fundamental change. CDC officers and MPS staff will still treat assistance seekers as pariahs. No such thing as customer service coz these people are not customers, they are beggars. The proof of the pudding will be at ground level, how the actual officers talk to and behave towards the help seekers.

  2. Halima yakult bemoaned in her parliament speech how the PAP government has done a lot for the needy but the perception is otherwise. She then repeated it was not a policy problem but a communication problem that has cost the party. So I think your hope in her and kee chiu will be misplaced.

  3. I will have respect and sympathsize those PAP jokers if everytime they having a parliament debate, they have this song play in the background because it fits them perfectly.

  4. […] is a dirty word in Stingypore – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Question for Charles Chong – Leong Sze Hian: CDCs should prep up for […]

  5. Helping the poor seems to be “encouraging” people to be lazy and dependent. These are multi-million dollar elected leaders who live n golden castles.

  6. I have a friend who works as a frontline officer in MCYS, who has a slightly different perspective on the matter. He bemoans many rude Singaporeans, not poor by any stretch of the imagination, who still come in to “try their luck” and threaten to escalate the matter if their demands are not met. Could that be a reason why these frazzled officers are so cynical and hardened when cases of genuine desperation come in?

  7. like to see what is the appropriate ratio of salary benchmarks –

    Maybe it shd be 50x the bottom 10% of society.

    assuming they make 10k a year. Then we should not see public official salaries much higher
    than 50 x 10k = 500k per year.

    If so, the incentive to help this layer of society will increase rapidly, and tracked regularly in the papers so that as a society we have more consciousness

  8. Since the last financial meltdown in 2008, I have ceased to give donations to charity. Not a single cent. I believed generous Singaporeans giving to charity have caused the PAP government to develop a crutch mentality; too dependent on NGO and charity organizations to cover the welfare of the people.

    I have decided that money coming from my pockets to charity can only go through the government tax system.

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