No unemployment benefits in Singapore

By JY Tan

I have been following all the stories on your website with lots of interest. It is also really sad for me to see so many Singaporeans unemployed. At this rate, I do foresee that more social problems will start appearing in the near future. The strike by SMRT bus drivers and the Little India are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg.

Having lived, work and studied in Australia for more than 10 years, I believe I can perhaps offer some insight on what the foreign employers may be thinking.

Many people from Australia, Europe, and North America are under the wrong impression that we have the unemployment benefit or dole system in our country. A foreigner once said to me something like,

“Yeah, we sacked him. So what? Big deal. He can easily go and live on the dole until he gets a proper job!”

I corrected him and said, “Hang on there. We do not have unemployment benefits or unemployment insurance in Singapore. If you are unemployed in Singapore, you have to live on your own savings till you find a job. “His response was this, “What? Are you kidding? In all first world countries they have some kind of unemployment benefits. Since Singapore is also a first world country, they should have the dole too.”

This conversation with my friend highlights a very important misconception of Singapore. Many Europeans, Americans, Australians are under the erroneous impression that we have the unemployment benefits or dole system in Singapore. That means even if we have no job, the government will continue to feed us until we find a job.

This may also be one of the main reasons why foreign employers have no qualms or regrets in terminating employment contracts with Singaporeans. They thought that our government was going to look after us Singaporeans. Otherwise why did we have to continuously vote for the PAP for so many years.