Farrer Park, Singapore

“Ah Umm” and our collective, persistent inability to talk about poverty, inequality, and social welfare in Singapore

Stories about low-income or low-wage Singaporeans who struggle to make ends meet or receive inadequate financial assistance follow familiar patterns. First, they are documented and shared without consent. The ensuing social media conversations are a mix of outrage, scepticism, and resignation. There are concurrent attempts to identify, to verify, and to follow up with the individual. The speedier the story goes viral, the government (frequently fronted by MSF) hurries to investigate and to clarify, concluding with the assurance that assistance has been or will be extended.

A pre-loved teddy bear in a second hand store

Book Review – Rob Reich’s “Just giving: Why philanthropy is failing democracy and how it can do better”

Rob Reich’s “Just giving” examines the favourable tax treatment of donations (in Singapore, for example, the tax deduction for qualifying donations is 250 per cent), the definition of the non-profit sector for both public charity and private foundations, as well as the limits of philanthropy. He does so by offering a political theory of philanthropy guided by the theories of liberty and justice under democratic settings, and Reich works to identify the type(s) of institutional arrangements which should define and structure philanthropy.

Father talking under the rain

Abortion a difficult and complex phenomenon not easily explained by social initiatives (and their perceived effectiveness)

While it may be true that some research has documented the importance of active fathering and the potential for a child’s father to influence a woman’s abortion decision, the Centre for Fathering and Dads for Life should be more circumspect when evaluating the effectiveness of their initiatives as well as the extent to which fathers may have contributed to the decrease in abortions since 2010 (ST, Mar. 8).

Disability parking spaces

The employment of persons with disabilities: Accounting for employment satisfaction and discrimination claims

A CNA article brought critical attention to the challenges that persons with disabilities (PWDs) face when looking for a job in Singapore (CNA, Mar. 22). Currently, 28.6 per cent of PWDs aged 15 to 64 are employed – mostly in “community, social and personal services, food services, administrative and support services and manufacturing” – and another 4.2 per cent who fall within this age range are unemployed but actively looking for employment. Yet, at the same time, it would be productive to also focus on employment satisfaction among those who have a job as well as increase awareness of and examine discrimination claims.

Hallway of a HDB flat in Singapore

“HDB home buyers don’t want public rental blocks in vicinity”: The challenge of research methodology and social integration in Singapore

Although the journal article was ostensibly focused on Singaporean perceptions of the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) – and how this housing policy may influence the decisions of home-owners when choosing a flat – the ST article zoomed in on the preferences of home-owners to not live close to HDB public rental blocks (ST, Mar. 22). It cited the lead researcher, Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, who concluded: “After price and location, proximity to public rental flats would be the variable that discourages a person from buying a unit”.