Thursday, February 28, 2013

Poor People in Singapore

There are poor people in Singapore.  The poor are really poor and the rich are really rich.  And the divide is probably getting larger.  The median monthly household income from work amongst resident employed household for year 2012 was S$7,570.  This includes employer Central Provident Fund contributions.  Based on statistics, there are 9.2% of households with no working persons, of which, 6.0% of these are retiree households.

I have become more aware of the poor around us.  At least to me, I have been noticing that there are more and more people walking (or standing) around selling tissue papers.  Well, they are not really selling tissue papers are they?  Some of them just place the tissue papers on your table while you are eating and ask you for money.  They are almost literally begging for money.  The selling of tissue paper is just a "cover".  After all, begging is illegal in Singapore(?).

One also notices that there are people who are selling tissue papers outside supermarkets, grocery stores, etc.  Anybody in need of a tissue paper can easily pop into one of those stores to buy themselves all the tissue they need.  But yet, it is not uncommon to see people stopping to buy tissue paper from these poor people who peddle their wares.

It is also increasingly common to see homeless people sleeping around in the void decks or at various places in Singapore.  Well, these people might not be homeless.  But nobody really knows.  And nobody bothers to ask.

Just today, I witnessed a woman go up to some diners to ask for money to buy food.  It might come as a surprise to some but I have actually seen people eating left over food on the tables as well as from the dustbins.  Yes, we can dismiss them as perhaps mentally unsound.  But perhaps the reason is that they are really poor.

There is also this struggle within me about how to help the poor.  I struggle with it every now and then.  Surely change must begin with me.  But there are limits to how much I can do.  Or perhaps, these are just my excuses.


  1. Signs of an economy moving into high value, high knowledge industries. The population of the old economy gets left behind, those who did not "upgrade", become "cheaper-er" and "better-er". Thats why looking at how our social policies treat our elders/seniors who helped to build this country tells me that something is wrong. Either the policy is wrong, or the one setting it is wrong.

  2. The question is perhaps what we as individuals can do? We can wish or hope the problem away but it remains. Sometimes, I wonder if I give them a big ang bao, maybe it will be enough money to last them for one year or even two. Who knows? But am I that generous? self-reflection mode...

    1. What can we do? Everybody is trying to make life better for themselves, it's not being selfish, it's just how life is in Singapore, the more money the merrier. Even at the minimum, one still need money to buy food, it's not like we have farmlands where we can farm our own food, or make our own clothes like in some other countries, here, money runs everything.

      Well, I think plainly giving money for nothing is not a good idea, maybe buy something from them, I think the tissue concept is good, at least they are trading something for your money, at least they are working for it, people can get lazy if everything is too easy, then you don't know who genuinely needs help, there's plenty of scammers too.


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