Earlier on 24 July, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced that about 400,000 lower-income Singaporeans are expected to receive S$1,500 from 28 July, which would be the first payout of the Workfare Special Payment.
“Those with government-registered bank accounts will receive the July payout of S$1,500 earlier, via direct bank crediting on 28 July 2020. The rest will receive the payout later by cheque, mailed to their NRIC-registered address, by 15 August 2020,” said the Ministry.
But while there are schemes available for every Singaporeans in the city-state, more than often we heard about the elderly who struggle to apply for these benefits.
Some of the problems they face are not having the paperwork that is required to be qualified for the schemes, or that they are exempted from the schemes due to some underlying factors.
Another problem is that the application process usually being moderated in English, as most of the elderly tend to only be versed in their mother tongue.
Just recently, one netizen – who goes by the moniker Meng Shuen Koh – shared on Facebook the story of an 82-year-old lady who only earns S$20 per day as a cleaner and dishwasher. He met her in the MRT, asking around on how to go to Sembawang as she is illiterate and only speaks Chinese.
The FB user also discovered that the old lady sold her house just to pay the exorbitant fees of four surgeries. Her husband has passed away many years ago, while her only son died during a “heli-rappeling” exercise with the Commandos a “long time ago”.
She claimed that the Government has promised to give compensation for her late son’s death – with S$300 per month – but up until now, she has never even received “one cent” from the Government.
Singaporean couple in 70s sell cardboard cartons at 5 cents per 1kg to survive
In another occurrence, member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Kala Manickam had previously shared in an interview with TOC about the couple – who are in their 70s – that she met during her walkabout at Nee Soon GRC.
Ms Kala noted that the 70-year-old husband lost his job 15 years ago due to an accident, and has to go around picking cardboard cartons to sell at five cents per kilogram.
Disbelief with his income, Ms Kala asked how they could afford to buy meals. The couple said that one to two meals a day would suffice, which the meals usually comprise of bread, noodles or leftover vegetable picked up from the market.
According to her, the couple was told that they cannot claim welfare benefit because they still had CPF payout of S$200 per month. But now that the payout has finished, the couple does not know where to seek financial assistance.
They told Ms Kala that there were documents that are required when applying for financial schemes, which seems to be a problem as they can only speak Mandarin. After constantly being rejected, the couple decided to just live with what they have.
“So I said [to the couple], after the election over, whether I’m in or not doesn’t matter. The first thing I’ll do after the election over is to bring [them] to the welfare to see what are the benefits that [they] can get,” she added.
Many of the elderly are not familiar with digital transaction like SingPass, says the WP’s Sylvia Lim
The Workers’ Party (WP) Sylvia Lim, on the other hand, has urged the Government to allow the elderly to access the Government services over counter as many of them are not familiar with the digital transaction like SingPass.
“I do know many people who don’t have SingPass today. That’s incredible to me because of this relentless push by the Government to make everybody transact digitally using SingPass,” she said during the WP’s e-rally series “The Hammer Show” on 4 July.
Ms Lim went on to share about her encounter with an elderly man who was accompanied by his daughter at the CPF branch office months ago.
When the daughter gave him instructions to use the SingPass, she noticed that the elderly man only “nodded” and “obeyed” to his daughter without really understand the process.
Ms Lim added that although a majority of the citizens appreciate the convenience of making transactions digitally, some people may find the process “quite onerous” and hard to manage.