Photo of Tan Chuan Jin from Facebook

In an interview with state media Straits Times, Minister of Social and Family Affairs (MSF) Tan Chuan Jin slammed poor people and welfare recipients for “playing up” their stories on the internet seeking help:

“I don’t see this receding, in fact you will see more contestation on this front, a lot more issues played up.”

The Minister was responding to a question by Straits Times who pointed out that more welfare recipients are turning to social media to criticise the Singapore government for not providing enough welfare aid.

Straits Times demonised the poor saying that they are “bypassing the authorities” and going to the internet to crowdfund for social aid. The government fake news media singled out a welfare recipient insinuating were taking advantage of public sympathy:

“The news article included the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) response that it had been assisting the family for 5½ years, and they also get ComCare and other aid. But Ms Nurul later posted photos of government letters and the rations received, saying that the aid was not enough. A letter from MSF indicated that the family was getting $400 for the May-to-July period. She wrote: “We have a long argument with the SSO (Social Service Office)… With that amount they (have) given us, you think it is enough to support a family of 11, along with my cancer-stricken father?” She raised $27,530.”

Singapore has one of the worst income inequality in the world with a GINI coefficient of 0.463 – worse than nearly-all OECD nations. Although Singapore reports a GDP per capita of US$52,960 in 2016, more than 25% of the population earns less than S$1,500 a month. The ruling party PAP government do not set a poverty line because the data would be embarrassing to the rich-nation financial hub facade it maintains.