At the National Day Rally yesterday night (19 Aug 2018), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outlined several factors that have pushed up the cost of living in Singapore, as more Singaporeans have been complaining about it in recent times.

Firstly, he assured the lower to middle-income families that there are “U-Save” rebates to help them with the cost of utilities.

He then gave tips to Singaporeans on how to cope with the rising cost of living.

Hawker Centre

  • Go for $3 or less economic meal at hawker centres

Utility

  • Be more mindful of water and electricity usage

Phone

  • Watch the data usage on your phone
  • Do not use 4G to watch movies outside
  • Download the movie first using home Wi-Fi
  • When outside, use Wireless@SG when available

Infant Milk Formula

  • Use breast milk but some may need to supplement with formula
  • He reminded everyone that he and his generation grew up without using expensive brands
  • All infant formulas are suitable (i.e, don’t go for expensive ones)
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PM’s tips can help our retrenched PMETs

Meanwhile, many Singaporean PMETs with good qualifications and used to earn respectable salaries have been retrenched due to “economic re-structuring”. Many ended up driving taxi or grab car and got by with $2-3K earnings on average a month.

One such person is Paul Chua, who posted his taxi driving journey in the “Singapore Taxi Driver” Facebook group. He related a story on how when he was retrenched, a taxi driver helped him.

“I was just into my mid 30’s and my career hit a setback. I was retrenched from my company due to restructuring and streamlining. I was too young to retire and too old to be employed as a junior. I didn’t had the luxury of accepting entry level job because of various commitments. Employers and governments bodies easily brushed the PMETs off as ‘lazy’, ‘choosy’, ‘demanding’ workers and employed FTs because they are ‘cheaper’, ‘faster’, ‘hardworking’,” Paul wrote.

“I sent out hundreds of resumes and was not able to find a sustainable job for an extended period of 8 months. Then came this one incident that changed the way I looked at TDs (Taxi Drivers).”

One day Paul went to meet a friend to see if the friend could introduce him to any jobs.

“We chat over a cup of coffee until 11.25pm. I bid him farewell and headed towards the bus stop. It was about 11.28pm. I ran for the bus but the driver pretended not seeing me and drove off. I waited at the bus stop until 11.40pm. I knew I was in trouble. I had missed that last bus home,” he explained.

He found that he only got $6.60 in his wallet and didn’t have enough money to take a cab all the way home. So, he flagged one down so as to chase after the last bus in order to get onto it.

He told the cab driver, “Uncle, I only have $6.60 on me now. That’s all I have. Can you drive faster down Bukit Timah Road and chase after the last bus 67. I need to catch the last bus home. If the fare hits $6.60 and still haven’t caught up with the last bus, just drop me there.”

The cab driver did not manage to chase down the last bus and instead, gave Paul a lift home FOC. The cab driver said he felt for Paul as he was also in a similar situation, being unemployed for 6 months before he decided to drive a cab.

Paul continued, “And he admired the way I was frank about having no money for the full trip. He offers to drive me home FOC. I was touched beyond words. My eyes ponded with tears, tears of gratitude. He sent me home and refused to accept my $6.60. I was extremely touch!!! I thanked him and left. There was mixed feelings in me that night. I felt grateful for the help and that the TD totally didn’t charge me a single cent for the trip. But I was also feeling ashamed because of the plight I was in. I left in a rush.”

“Till this day, I am still grateful for that very good deed that TD uncle offered me. I forgot to look at you in the face or take down your taxi number or even take note of which taxi company he was driving for. But I will remember what he did for me. If I could ever meet him again, I would give him a hug for he changed the way I looked at TDs,” he added.

Later, Paul also took up driving a cab and said, “Over the years of my own taxi driving, I had also given help to various people whom I felt needing help. All because of that very good deed he (the TD) did for me.”

Concluding his writings, Paul said, “Whoever he is, TD Uncle, thanks for his help.”

People like Paul and the taxi uncle probably could afford to go dine in restaurants every month when they were PMETs. But these days, with less earnings, they would probably not eat out at restaurants that often.

But thanks to the good tips from PM Lee, at least they can now go for $3 economic meals at hawker centres.

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