In Singapore, we sweep poverty under the carpet because as the saying goes – out of sight, out of mind. We shine the spotlight on what it’s like to live in poverty in Singapore.
Unlike other developed countries around the world, there is no official poverty line in Singapore. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no poverty in the world’s most expensive city – you just need to know where to look.
The ruling government in Singapore subscribes to a tiered assistance model, dishing out financial aid and social support based on the people’s needs and their shortfalls. Some need help with finding a job while others might have problems paying for their children’s education. While there isn’t an official poverty line (it’s a concept that the People’s Action Party believe is too rigid and inflexible), many of the schemes rolled out by the Ministry of Social and Family Development has a monthly household income benchmark of S$1,900 or a per capita income of not more than S$650.
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The discourse on poverty in Singapore has been gathering steam in the past few years, with many questioning whether the government is doing enough to transfer the wealth downwards. However, not many know that the ComCare Fund has a financial war chest of S$1 billion to combat poverty in Singapore. The only question mark is whether needy families know where they can get help. The multiple bureaucratic hurdles can also deter many of them from seeking financial assistance, most of whom are already sacrificing their pride and face for a hand-out.
Poverty in Singapore is an extremely sensitive issue and one that will generate heated debate (if you’re sitting through a bland dinner, we suggest adding the spice of poverty discussions). However, we think that it’s important to talk about the topic and to understand that many of those living in poverty in Singapore aren’t there by choice or by laziness but by circumstance and misfortune. Personally, we think one of the best ways to experience what it’s like to live in the bottom 20th percentile of the population is to take up the S$5 challenge. Many have tried it out and gained better insights and renewed respect for those at the bottom.
To give you a peek into poverty in Singapore, we’ve created this infographic to demonstrate that poverty is all around us. He or she could be your hairstylist or your bus driver, and the both of them are just getting by the world’s most expensive city. There is poverty in Singapore. You just need to know where to look.
Numbers and figures in the infographic are derived from governmental websites, surveys, and statistics.