Alfian Sa’at speaks up for freelancers in precarious financial situations due to impact of COVID-19 on economy

As the impact of COVID-19 grows, many industries have been hit hard during these economically troubling times, and freelancers are certainly among them.

Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at took to his Facebook yesterday (19 March) to share a story of him and his friends collecting money among themselves to support their freelancer friends who are struggling to make ends meet during this period of an economic slowdown.

He said in his post that many freelancers were badly affected due to the global pandemic as they had their gigs cancelled, events postponed, and payments delayed.

Noting that freelancers were influenced by market ups and downs, he described the freelancers’ careers as “bulimic”, saying that they need to work for long hours during the peak periods and go on a break during inactive periods.

“At this particular moment, the boom is deferred indefinitely, and the bust is corroding their savings,” he explained.

As a result, it turns out that Mr Alfian, who was in a Whatsapp group with some of his close friends including full-timers and freelancers, “pass the hat around” in the group to relieve the financial difficulties of their friends.

He wrote, “I invoked the socialist credo: ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’ The full-timers chipped in and among us we managed to raise $808.88 (lol).”

On the collected money, he hoped that the amount will be of help to his friends to clear their bills and ease their worries.

On the other hand, Mr Alfian noted that Singaporeans have a culture on people who need help but are reluctant to voice out as they value independence while seeing neediness as a sign of individual failure.

Hence, he encouraged Singaporeans to be proactive to ask and check on their friends who may face financial difficulties.

“Make it safe and comfortable for your friends to confide in you without feeling that they are a burden. (And in these days of payment transfers you can avoid the awkwardness of money physically changing hands.)

“I’m sharing this to say that no matter what you think about the practicality or scalability of redistribution, it is always a possibility, and oftentimes the small mercy that will help us live,” he said.

Netizens appreciate him for raising the voice of freelancers while hoping government works out support measures

Commenting on Mr Alfian’s post, many netizens expressed gratitude to Mr Alfian on raising the voice of freelancers in a way that could be a big help to them. A netizen, after hearing about this incident, also offered to provide help.

 

Other than financial difficulties, a netizen pointed out that freelancers may have high exposure to mental and physical health issues as well. Hence, he hoped that a new economic model could cover the social security of people.

At the same time, some netizens doubted that the government will provide any help or support measures to alleviate the burden of freelancers during this tough period.

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