Budget 2014: Follow-ups done on all the needy featured in media

Budget 2014: Follow-ups done on all the needy featured in media
Mr Chan also urged his fellow MPs "not to judge" when stories of any of these families in trouble are highlighted in the media.

Every case of a down-and-out Singaporean that appears on social media or in the newspapers is followed up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), its minister Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday.

But it does so behind the scenes. His ministry's policy is also not to reveal the names of the people it helps, to protect their privacy, he added.

"Very often... some people will post something on the Internet, a story might come out in the evening newspapers.

"Let me assure all members of this House that my ministry chases up on each and every of these stories, even though it is not appropriate for us to reveal their private circumstances or the kind of help they have been getting," he said in Parliament.

In not disclosing who they help, he said his ministry sometimes gets flak for it.

Mr Chan also urged his fellow MPs "not to judge" when stories of any of these families in trouble are highlighted in the media.

"Very often, there are very complicated stories behind each and every case. Very often, the social workers and the community have been quietly working behind the scenes helping these families in need without fanfare," he said.

His explanation on how his ministry helps the needy was in response to comments by Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) that a common response of Singaporeans, when they come across others in need, is to take a photo or video and send it to social or traditional media, instead of contacting agencies that could help.

Mr Chan said: "Those who genuinely want to help... we will be most happy to work with them. But for those with other reasons, it is always difficult."

Last month, one such video by the British Broadcasting Corp made the rounds online. It featured a jobless single mother with six children who said no one in her family could afford to fall ill.

Similarly, a 2009 video by Agence France-Presse featured an elderly woman in Singapore who made a living by scavenging for and selling scrap cardboard.

But checks by Singapore officials later found she owned property, and had savings and a family that wanted to help her, but she did not want to rely on them.


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