Amazing lack of empathy at meet-the-people session

A reader was at the nearby table during a Meet-the-People session, and felt that he had to share the amount of misunderstanding and amazing lack of empathy during the session. (Readers of this post can treat it as it as a work of fiction as there is no attributing source.)

This incident took place after That Man broke down at the Meet-the-People session, with his parents being ushered out of the centre.

Volunteer 1: ‘There, there, calm down…’

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown

Volunteer 3: Lays a reassuring hand on his arm

That Man: ‘Alright, sorry, let’s continue. We’ve had no home for the past four years. Yes, I’ve been rejected by all options – bank loans, HDB (Housing Development Board) loans, my parents got two HDB flats before so BTOs are not possible, and HDB wrote me a letter-‘

Volunteer 1: ‘-Okay, let’s focus on the issue at hand, and put the other issues aside: the two-room flat. Oh, have your parents paid the levy? The levy is part of the-‘

That Man: ‘Hang on, what has the levy got to do with the balloting of the flat? I’m trying to seek help with allocation for the upcoming SBF (Sale of Balance Flats), and my family has been without a home for the past four years, so-‘

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown intensifies

Volunteer 1: ‘-wait, wait, let me explain, you need to get a reference number for us to help you-‘

That man: ‘That means I need to ballot first, right? So what if the ballot fails? I’ve been rejected from bank loans, BTO, and don’t have the cashflow to sustain an open market rental, and I really need help with securing-‘

Volunteer 2: ‘I’m still not getting it, it’s very fuzzy – you just need to apply for the ballot. The system is fair, we need to give everyone a chance.’

That Man: ‘Yes, the system is fair, but don’t you see my problem? I don’t have enough money to sustain a rental in the open market, and if the ballot doesn’t go through, my family-‘

Volunteer 1: ‘- you must go through the ballot, and get a reference number before we can help you! And get a computation of the levy, so that-‘

That Man: voice cracking ‘But what has the levy got to do with the ballot? I’m not asking for a specific unit at a specific place, I’m just asking for a roof above my head! I just want help with securing a flat anywhere, I’ve tried my bank loan, and I can’t get through it-‘

Volunteer 2: ‘Wait, wait, it’s still very fuzzy, you need to get your reference number first before we can help you. You see, everyone must ballot for a flat first, then if need be, you then appeal for special circumstances.’

Volunteer 1: ‘Yes, we need that to help you. So, after that is done, the levy will be calculated, and-‘

That Man: voice cracked ‘Do you understand what I’m looking for?’

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown intensifies

Volunteer 1: ‘Yes, you need a home.’

That Man: ‘So what has calculating the affordability got to do with my family securing a flat through the ballot? I’ve mentioned that I have the savings to help my parents purchase the flat-‘

Volunteer 2: ‘Wait, so who is the applicant here? Because you cannot apply for the flat, it’s a-‘

That Man: ‘Yes, only my parents can apply for it, I understand that! I’ve been trying for a flat for four years, and I’ve only started work for two – isn’t the system failing us already? I have savings of 30k for this two room flexi, but if I take a rental from the open market, the savings cannot be used to help my parents secure a flat. I don’t have enough income to-‘

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown

Volunteer 1: ‘-yes, yes, I understand. But you still need to get a reference number first for us to help you.’

That Man: ‘So if my parents ballot, and we fail the ballot? Does that mean we will not have a home for the next few years?’

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown

That Man: ‘How long would the appeal take if it fails? 6 months? A year?’

Volunteer 1: ‘No, no, no, we can’t tell, it depends on HDB-‘

That Man: ‘Doesn’t that mean my family won’t have a roof over our heads? It’s not that I don’t want a resale flat, the banks have been rejecting my loan!’

Volunteer 2: Puzzled frown mixed with boredom

Volunteer 1: ‘Actually, on the open market, a resale 3-room flat should be affordable for you… Let’s see, a monthly repayment of 1.3k to 1.5k-‘

Volunteer 3: interjecting ‘You should go get ballot for the SBF once it is out. When it is out, head down to us the first thing after you have balloted for us to help you expedite the process. Ok?’

Volunteer 2 sees an important persons and smiles for the first time, standing up immediately while shaking his hand. That Man stares at Volunteer 2.

Volunteer 1: Circles 1.3k ‘Yes, let us know once you have the reference number, then we can calculate the levy and affordability for you. But don’t worry, the levy shouldn’t be a problem.’

That Man continues staring at Volunteer 2 chatting with important person while Volunteer 1 and 3 advises him on the next steps. He stands up and leaves.