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TOC Report: annuity protest draws small crowd

A protest against the government’s move to introduce an annuities scheme was held at Centrepoint on Saturday afternoon.

Around 30 people were spotted wearing black throughout the five storey shopping mall, but it was unclear how many of them were there for the specific purpose of protesting the annuities scheme.  

The most visible group of protesters was members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) who were canvassing for the release of their Secretary-General Dr Chee Soon Juan earlier in the afternoon. The group of eight SDP supporters was led by Dr Chee’s sister Ms Chee Siok Chin.

The low turnout at the event was attributed by some to the amorphous nature of the protest’s organization. 

Word of the protest was originally spread through the internet and participants were asked to wear an item of black clothing and appear at the mall at 4.00 pm. It was unclear who organized the protest. 

The protest was held in reaction to the government’s proposed move to introduce a compulsory annuities scheme component into the Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings scheme.  The CPF scheme is a compulsory savings scheme that is funded on contributions from employees and employers. Current rules allow Singaporeans to withdraw portions of their savings at ages 55 and 62.  

The introduction of the annuities scheme could see a portion of Singaporean’s CPF Savings set aside to be paid back to them in installments.

Expressions of discontent have spilled over into the mainstream media and are particularly apparent online. Many are concerned that the scheme will be made compulsory across the board. 

The annuities scheme comes on top of another widely criticized proposal to raise the age at which the second draw down can be made to 65.  

Despite the failed protest, the discontent on the ground is not going unnoticed by Members of Parliament.  

It is TOC’s understanding that Mdm Ho Geok Choo of West Coast GRC intends to raise concerns about the proposed compulsory annuities scheme in Parliament when it next sits.

 When interviewed, she said: “It is important for the government to allay concerns from the ground before finalizing the details of the scheme. People want to know that their concerns are understood before any decisions are made.” 

The Minister of Manpower Dr Ng En Hen will address Parliament on 17th September providing more details on the annuities scheme.  

Read also: "Courage At Centrepoint" by The Singapore Democratic Party.