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The Community Services Unit was set up to look into providing our constituents the assistance they needed to cope with the high cost of living in Singapore.
The Singapore Democrats continue to be concerned about the lack of social safety nets for the poorer segments of society as the Government neglects them. The services we provide is aimed at alleviating some of the hardships they are confronted with everyday.$CUT$
Assisted by my deputy, Ms Yeo Poh Hong, the team started work as early as June 2011 – just one month after the 2011 general elections. The Unit conducted a workshop; where more than 50 members attended to train them to help assess the needs of low-income Singaporeans. The information would be used to draw up a program of action for assistance.
Teams were deployed to meet with residents to conduct the surveys. Many of the residents were in neglect and in need of support.
These were clear signs that PAP’s policies towards the poor are harsh and they need to be addressed.The surveys also provided a wealth of information about the problems the poor were facing and issues which the party has taken on board for policy discussion and formulation in our effort to combat poverty and reduce income inequality in Singapore.
Not only did the party collect information, we also provided direct assistance by way of distributing groceries and other basic necessities to households who could not afford them. The Unit had called on Singaporeans to make donations and many responded.
One donor was Mr Ivan Lim. Mr Lim faces financial diffculties himself. In 2003, some of his family members passed away and left him with a huge financial burden. Because of this he was unable to cope with his medical expenses as he was suffering from diabetes.
Mr Lim began to cut back on his medication – stretched his one-month prescription into three months. As a result his condition worsened. In 2009, he had to have his right leg amputated. But this did not stop him from donating some of this equipment to those who needed them.
It is for people like Mr Lim that we drew up The SDP National Healthcare Plan in which we call for greater government spending to provide universal and affordable healthcare for Singaporeans.
Dr Leong Yan Hoi, a member of our Advisory Healthcare Panel which presented the Plan, made personal visits to some of the households to render medical assistance and to gauge the level of support these households needed. The team also delivered medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walking frames and crutches donated by our supporters to residents who could not afford them.
Apart from direct help through food rations and medical service, the Community Services Unit also provided referral assistance as many of the residents did not know how to go about getting help.
Many requested help to get jobs and lower rents for their one-bedroom flats. For example, one man who suffered from terminal cancer and had to stop working. The family lives on his wife’s $1000 a month salary. But his rental is still pegged at $230 a month even though he had approached the HDB for help to lower his rent.
The Community Services will continue the important work of reaching out to the poorer segments of society and work with the other Units of the Party Organising Department to achieve our overall objective of building an egalitarian society, one where equality really means something.
Irwan Sahrul is the head of SDP’ Community Services Unit. Irwan has been working in Social Service for more than 5 years. He works closely with youths, families, schools, government agencies and the community.