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S'poreans not giving smaller hongbao

A common reason cited for this was that Chinese New Year comes once a year, so there was no reason for cutting down. -My Paper
Dominic Ho

Fri, Feb 08, 2013
My Paper

THE economic outlook might not be as buoyant as last year's, but many Singaporeans don't plan on giving less hongbao, or red packet, money this Chinese New Year.

A straw poll by My Paper of 50 married Singapore residents aged 25 to 50 earlier this week found that 86 per cent said they do not intend to give less.

A common reason cited for this was that Chinese New Year comes once a year, so there was no reason for cutting down. Research lab-technician Lim Shao Hong, 31, who has a two-year-old daughter, said he is not giving less this year because his take-home pay rose from last year's.

"CNY should be about giving. That's why I feel the amount in hongbao should remain the same or be more," he added.

Zoologist B. Tan, 35, who has an eight-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, shares the sentiment. He said he is not giving less because CNY is about "the spirit of giving, regardless of whether I earn more or less".

Still, among the 14 per cent of people who said they are giving less, the main reason was a fall in their take-home pay.

When it comes to how much they would put in a red packet for each of their children, the bulk of respondents - 49 per cent - said the amount would be between $12 and $50, while the next largest group - 36 per cent - said it would be $52 to $100.

As for the amount to be given to their nieces and nephews, most - 58 per cent - said they would give between $12 and $50, followed by 30 per cent who said $2 to $10.

In line with this, most of those polled - 69 per cent - are expecting each of their children to receive between $12 and $50 from relatives. The majority also said that the amount they expected their kids to receive remained the same as last year.

A survey commissioned by the United Overseas Bank of 512 Chinese Singaporeans aged between 18 and 55, results of which were released on Wednesday, found that they would give children an average of $69.

However, when it comes to the children of neighbours and friends, some married residents do not plan to give hongbao.

My Paper's straw poll found that 80 per cent said they would give red packets to their friends and neighbours' children. The majority would give between $2 and $10, while 22 per cent were more generous, giving between $12 and $50.

Even so, there appears to be instances where married residents have given more. While most said the highest amount they have given was between $12 and $100, 28 per cent said they have given $102 and above.

One respondent said the biggest hongbao she gave was $2,888.

The age of a child may determine the amount of hongbao money he gets.

Mrs Yvonne Lee, 30, a finance counsellor, said: "My son is only two years old and I don't see why he needs more than $50. If I give him more than $50, by the time he reaches 10 years old, I might have to give him over $100."

Interestingly, only 52 per cent of respondents knew the traditional significance of giving red packets, which is to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

About 40 per cent thought that red packets are to reward children for their good behaviour the year before.

Mr D. Lee, 36, a telecommunications manager with two young daughters, said he gives red packets to avoid bad luck.

"I normally reserve my 13thmonth bonus from the previous year to give out hongbao, so it's definitely affordable for my wife and me to give the same as the year before," he added.

Additional reporting by Haley Chan, Elizabeth Kamaldin, Andre C. Neville and Karen Ng

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