CPF Board video-records exchanges between public members and their staff

It was earlier reported that a 60-year-old elderly man Lim Koh Leong wrote on his Facebook page last Wed (26 Jun), complaining that despite having more than enough money in his CPF account to cover his daughter’s education fees, he was not allowed to use any of it for his daughter’s education (‘Man apologises to CPF Board and decides to get help from loved ones for child’s school fees‘).

His Facebook post quickly went viral chalking up more than a thousand comments in a very short while.

Mr Lim revealed that he currently has more than $70,000 in his CPF account and he only needs $15,000 for his daughter’s school fees.

At the CPF office, he told a staff attending to him that in the past, the government “used to say that by the time we hit the age of 55, we can make a withdrawal from my CPF”.

“Currently I’m already 60 years old, with an unstable job, how am I supposed to get the needed cash for my daughter’s education?!” he asked the staff.

The response from the staff shocked Mr Lim. He recalled what the staff said to him, “The past is the past, now is now. Now the rules changed.”

The staff added that as Mr Lim couldn’t fulfill his minimum sum requirement, he can’t take his CPF monies out.

At this point Mr Lim got a bit emotional and, apparently, raised his voice. He asked if there is another way out. And according to Mr Lim, the staff’s reply was, “Can apply, the chance of it is zero”.

Feeling “cheated, humiliated, angry”, he decided to write a Facebook post to inform everyone with regard to his encounter with CPF Board.

“Believe that this does not happen to just me. This kind of government… treating our own Singaporeans like this, can I still have trust and faith in them? Even for just my child’s school fees. What should I do? What can I do?” he wrote.

CPF Board reviews video recording

On Sat (29 Jun), CPF Board replied on its Facebook page. It said that Mr Lim did not have sufficient money in his CPF account for “basic retirement”. Hence, allowing him to use his CPF money for his daughter’s education is “not appropriate”.

CPF Board also revealed that it had spoken to Mr Lim to discuss alternative options amongst other things. And one of things mentioned was that the CPF Board, having “reviewed our video recording”, is “satisfied that our staff had served Mr Lim calmly and professionally”. It also added that Mr Lim had, in fact, apologised to the CPF staff.

Later on Mr Lim’s Facebook page, he revealed why he had apologised to the staff. “Once I heard ‘The past is the past’… from what they said to me, I’m very sad and angry,” he said.

“I only apologised for raising my voice, nothing else (I did not shout, scold the staff. I think they have CCTV as evidence).”

Some netizens, however, felt that Mr Lim need not have apologized to CPF Board since he didn’t shout or scold the staff. Mr Lim merely raised his voice because he was upset when the staff said, “The past is the past…”

In any case, this episode has revealed that CPF Board does record everything that goes on at the counters or in the rooms inside its offices, recording what members of the public say to their staff.

Note that under Section 6 of the Protection from Harassment Act, threatening, abusing or insulting a public servant is a punishable offence. If convicted, a person can receive a maximum of 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5000.00.