Poor Singaporeans continue to struggle under the system

October 12, 2011
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The elderly couple whom members of the SDP met at the block party that we organised last week at the Ghim Moh estate invited us up to their rental flat to show us how they lived and to talk about their financial difficulties.

Mr Teo is 86 and his wife Mrs Teo is in her 70s. Mrs Teo says that her son who sells tau-huay chwee gives them $100 per week for subsistence. But that is hardly enough as their utilities bill alone works out to be more than $100.

They need at least $20 a day to get by. The amount just about covers three meals a day. This excludes their expenses for transportation, medication and other items. 

Off camera Mr Teo asked us if he could work for half a day at our party office as a cleaner. He said he needed to supplement what he’s living on at the moment. Mrs Teo says she would like to work to lighten the burden but cannot because of her knees (she can be seen walking with difficulty at the start of the video).

The couple’s plight is, unfortunately, not uncommon in Singapore. There are more and more Singaporeans who can’t make ends meet as poverty worsens. Reports released yesterday indicate that the poorest 20 percent saw their wages stagnate over the past 10 years.

But this Government continues to build this country for the super-rich by splurging on facilities and recreational activities that only milliionaires can enjoy.

Meanwhile, income inequality remains at levels of poorer Third World countries.

There is no minimim wage, independent trade unions continue to be blocked and the elderly are made to work well into the retirement for less pay. Folks like the Teos are left to fend for themselves without little social safety net.

And yet we have no means of addressing and redressing these problems because we live in a one-party state where the system exists to ensure that the PAP remains firmly in power. This makes change through the electoral system extremely difficult, if not impossible.

This socio-political arrangement is, however, unsustainable and society will breakdown if such abuse and mismanagement does not course correct. There are signs all over the world that the divide between the rich and poor are beginning to manifest itself in unpleasant ways. The exploited are beginning to raise their voices. Singaporeans must find ours too.