As a form of support for Singaporeans to power through the COVID-19 pandemic that led closures of businesses, the Government had set up a Temporary Relief Fund to aid people who need urgent financial assistance.
To increase the accessibility of the application for Temporary Relief Fund, the Government accepts a variety of supporting documents which include letters, e-mails, screenshots of a mobile app, WhatsApp messages, appointment booklets, handwritten notes as well as payment slips. However, certain people had been discovered to have “cheated the system” in order to receive the funds even when they clearly do not need the money as much as the people in need.
Minister of Social & Family Development, Desmond Lee shared about this incident onto his Facebook, condemning the people who took advantage of the Government’s aid while many more Singaporeans urgently need the aid to stay alive.
Mr Lee stated that more than 100,000 Singaporeans who have been severely affected by COVID-19 had applied for the Temporary Relief Fund, and the volunteers for SSO and People’s Association had been working hard to process and disburse the funds as quickly as possible.
Despite their efforts in helping other Singaporeans, Mr Lee said that he had received certain screenshots of how a small number of Singaporeans lied just to receive the funds. Mr Lee explained that these people did not really “cheat the Government”, but what they were really doing was taking advantage at the expense of many Singaporeans who are experiencing a genuine crisis.
Expressing how disheartened he and his colleagues felt upon such despicable actions, Mr Lee stated that he had sent these reports of abuse to Minister Shanmugam.
“Yet, many people have sent me screenshots such as this, which suggest that a very small number of people are taking advantage of the schemes, or encouraging others who do not need help to try to “cheat” the system. No, you are not cheating just the government. You are doing this at the expense of many Singaporeans who are in genuine crisis, and need this help. Those who’ve written to me about such abuse are rightly indignant. And my colleagues and I are also disheartened.”
He had also made it clear that the Government’s priority at the moment would be to disburse the funds as well as to improve the way they provide assistance to help the affected people and vulnerable communities.
“But our priority now is to disburse the TRF, the COVID-19 Support Grant and provide other help schemes. We need to focus on improving the way we provide assistance, to help affected people and vulnerable communities.”
Having that said, people left comments under the post saying that they still had not gotten any response for their applications.
MuhdEEE Shalihin commented that he had applied for the Temporary Relief Fund since last Thursday (2 April) and he still had not received anything. Working as a GrabFood rider and being the sole earner in his family, he expressed that during this difficult situation he could only pray for better days to come.
Mechelle ZJ Luo-Sng pleaded Mr Lee for help by stating that her father and brother were severely impacted at work due to COVID-19 and she mentioned that Tampines Hub Community Centre rejected them. She felt the irony when people in need could not receive the aid while others who didn’t need the money managed to get the fund.
NZ Remy commented that the people who really need the aid could not receive the money urgently and that she is still waiting for hers. Mr Desmond Lee replied under her comment to ask her to send him a personal message. It turns out that Ms Remy had already requested help on Saturday (4 April) and it seems like Mr Lee did not respond to her.
In light of the impact COVID-19 had caused unto businesses, employers were found to be unkind towards their employees and many people lost their jobs during such a difficult period of time.
Jess Chua said that her mother had been retrenched at a food court as a drinks assistant, and thus Ms Chua wanted to help her mother to apply for the Fund. However, after getting in touch with her mother’s supervisor to request a retrenchment letter, the supervisor responded that the letter is not needed to apply for the Fund. Ms Chua stated that abuse of the Fund will persist if no official document is required for the application.
Here are a few more people who expressed difficulties in the process of application for Fund:
Candice Lau stated that she and her husband had applied for the Fund at the Serangoon Community Club on 2 April but they have still yet to receive a response. She also mentioned that some of her family and friends who applied after she did had already gotten their aid.
Since the Temporary Relief Fund is to support the people who had lost their job or a 30 per cent drop in their income, Zulkifli Adawiyah commented that he provided documented proof for his 40 per cent salary drop. However, his application still got rejected.
Mohamed Faizal stated that his company had to shut down and leave him unemployed. Mr Faizal applied for the Fund at Pasir Ris East Community Club on the first day and he still hasn’t gotten any response so far.
Nadya Salyriana expressed that she had encountered so much problem just to justify her application, and she felt the unfairness when someone without documented proof could apply for the Fund easily. Ms Nadya also questioned if different officers have different ways of screening.
Ms קרולין הודית described that she queued for one hour at Yishun Social Service Office and was then directed to Community Club instead. She submitted her application with documented proof after queuing for another three hours at the Community Club, yet her application is still under consideration. Expressing her confusion upon seeing how others could apply so easily without documents, she wondered if they applied for the same Fund.
Although the Government intended to make the application process easier for Singaporeans, employers were found to be unhelpful by refusing to provide help for their employees. During tough times like this, not only that employers’ abuse was being magnified, but also the selfish people who encourage taking advantage of the Temporary Relief Fund.