MSF responds to complaint against officer who told man 'we don't owe you' during argument

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has responded to a complaint from a man who claimed an officer from Boon Lay Social Service Office (SSO) used harsh words on him when he tried to seek additional financial help.

Mr Ravi Rajasagaran, 33, visited the SSO with his wife on Thursday (Dec 3) morning, where the officer explained to them that there would be a delay in crediting their financial assistance.

Mr Ravi, who had requested for additional financial help because the family was expecting a second child this month, was unhappy that he was told about the delay only during the meeting which took place one day before he was due to receive the money.

The officer apologised to the couple for the delay but there was an exchange of words. 

The exchange, which was captured on camera by Mr Ravi's wife and posted on Facebook, showed the officer telling Mr Ravi towards the end of their conversation "we don't owe you".


Dear Sir/Mdm,I'm Ravi S/O M G RajasagaranIc No : S8206192D.Currently I am seeking financial help from Boon Lay SSO and his name is Nick Lee.Today this morning he called up my wife and told her that this month there'll be a delay in our cash payout and told us to come down to meet at 11.30am. So my wife and I went over to meet him personally. I was explaining to him that if there's any delay he could have let us know earlier so I could have make some other arrangement and its not fair to tell me today when I was depending on the cash which I thought I will be receiving tomorrow.With the cash, I've got to do my new born baby's birth certificate, need to bring my wife for her check up and also use the cash to go and visit our baby who is still in NICU and was born at 30 weeks prematured.I've to visit her almost everyday as my wife needs to breast feed her and because of the surgery my wife can't be travelling in the bus or MRT and we've to take a cab down to KKH.At the same time I also need to get diapers and milk powder for my 1st son who is 2 1/2 years old.While I was trying to explain my situation, your officer told me off that WE DONT OWN YOU. I WAS REALLY HURT BY THIS WORD. IS MY FAMILY A BURDEN TO YOU ALL ? I WAS DEPENDING ON THE CASH TO RUN MY FAMILY AND NOT TO MISUSE IT. SERIOUSLY THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO TREAT PEOPLE WHO SEEK HELP FROM YOU ALL!RaviEditor's note: we have transferred $100 to the family last night and visited the baby at KKH ICU. The prematured baby girl weighs less than 1 kg and will be in ICU for at least two months.The 7-minute video conversation is provided by the writer.He has also formally launched a complaint with the branch.Ravi is 33 years old and suffers from muscular dystrophy as a result of a vicious attack many years ago. He is certified permanently unfit to work.If you wish to donate directly to the family please let us know. Do it for the poor helpless baby struggling for her life at KKH.Christmas is a season for giving...

Posted by Gilbert Goh on Thursday, December 3, 2015

Taking offence at what the officer said, the couple left the meeting in a huff and later lodged a formal complaint against Boon Lay SSO.

In a statement to The Straits Times on Friday (Dec 4) evening, the ministry said: "The SSO officer involved recognised that his choice of words during the interview were insensitive to Mr Ravi.

"We understand that applicants may feel anxious during the financial application process at the SSOs. Our officers will do their best to help and provide assurance to those in need, while ensuring the proper usage and accounting of public funds."


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Posted by MSF Singapore on Friday, December 4, 2015

MSF also urged members of the public to respect the "confidentiality and privacy" of the parties involved by not secretly video-taping and recording conversations, and subsequently posting it on social media. 


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Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday, December 4, 2015

It also revealed that the officer had prepared vouchers for the couple to help them with their basic necessities in the interim, but had no chance to offer them as Mr Ravi left in a huff.

A MSF staff spoke to Mr Ravi on Friday morning and invited him to drop by at the SSO again to collect the vouchers. Mr Ravi eventually turned up and acknowledged he was angry during his visit the day before, but declined to take the vouchers.

MSF said it has been providing financial assistance to Mr Ravi and his family since September last year. He recently appealed for additional financial help because the family was expecting a second child this month.

"Our colleagues from the Social Service Office @ Boon Lay thus initiated an early review and increased the amount of assistance to Mr Ravi from $600 to $800 per month," MSF added.

"This change resulted in a delay of a few days in the crediting of financial assistance to Mr Ravi in the month of December."

This article was first published on Dec 04, 2015.
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