Photo of elderly Singaporean with Lee Hsien Loong portrait

Employing half-truths and cherry-picked statistics, the Minister of Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee hit out at public criticisms over Singapore’s rising inequality. The MSF yesterday (1 Nov) published a propaganda fake news report claiming that the poor in Singapore are having the best life as compared to “most countries” in the world. The millionaire minister even openly lied in the official report, claiming that each poor person received S$10,245 from the government every year:

“On average, resident households received S$4,433 per household member from various Government schemes in 2017 while households in HDB one- & two-room flats received S$10,245 per household member. The Singapore system is not perfect, but has performed better than most.”

The “occasional paper” report by MSF heavily advertised itself as a caring government, claiming that policies have been hugely effective in addressing inequality in Singapore. The report however avoided mentioning that Singapore has a GINI coefficient of 0.459, the second-worst society when compared to OECD nations. The MSF laid claims to several “milestones”, making unrealistic claims including a 25% wage raise:

“A 60-year-old earning $1,200 a month receives $300 more through the Workfare Income Supplement (i.e. 25% top up in monthly income). More than 70,000 resident workers benefitted under the Progressive Wage Model.”

A fact check with the government website reveals that MSF published a half-truth fake news as the Workfare model pays out only S$120 in cash, while the remain S$180 is locked up in the corrupted CPF scheme. The government report did not reveal the number of elderly retirees working, or the reasons why they are still working past retirement age.

The MSF also lied about home ownership in Singapore, claiming that HDB leasing is ownership. The ministry selectively stated that there is a 44% fall in rental housing requests, without revealing the number of households and household size on rental each year:

“In the last 5 years, about 3,700 households moved out of public rental flats to become HDB home owners, helped by affordable flat prices, significant housing grants, and schemes such as the Tenants’ Priority Scheme. The number of households moving out of rental flats to become home owners each year has also been steadily increasing, from about 500 in 2013 to almost 1,000 in 2017. The number of requests for public rental flats has also declined by 44%, from 12,100 in 2013 to 6,800 in 2017. “

An earlier official release in Feb 2018 this year revealed that only 5%, or 3,000 households out of 60,000, of the rental households managed to purchase a HDB lease over 5 years.

MSF lastly lied about social mobility and the state of inequality in Singapore, claiming that the poor people in Singapore are having a good life. This is grossly misrepresentation considering that the number of families on public assistance jumped 24% in four years, based off another official report published just last month in Oct 2018.