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.