Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Poverty in Singapore


According to my research , I've found out that poverty in Singapore is a constant problem. As seen in this article found at, "It comes as a surprise to most that a country this prosperous is the second-most unequal economy in the developed world." There are many beggars to be seen in Singapore everywhere, most of them being the disabled and the elderly. 

Below is an excerpt from

'The elderly poor in Singapore lead just as tragic lives. Many have to, literally, work until they die:

In 1999 monthly wages for low-skilled workers decreased by as much as 34 percent.

  • Nearly 30 percent of households were not earning enough to afford the minimum standard of living. The Government estimates that the subsistence level in Singapore is US$600 for a household of four people—a conservative figure for a country that is consistently ranked among the most expensive cities in the world to live in.
  • Between 1998 and 1999, the average household monthly income of the poorest 10 percent of the population decreased by nearly 50 percent. The following year, the figure nose-dived by another 54 percent.
  • In 1990, the richest 10 percent of households earned 15.6 times more than the poorest 10 percent. (Households with no income-earners are excluded from this category.) By 2000, the gap widened: the richest 10 percent earned 36 times more than the poorest 10 percent.
  • The number of households with monthly incomes of less than $3,000 was 40 percent in 1998 but increased to 42 percent in 1999.
  • According to the 2000 Census, 12.6 per cent of households earned less than $1,000 per month. A monthly gross total household income of $1,500 and below is considered "poor” in Singapore.
  • A more recent survey found that 16 per cent of the respondents had family members who often went hungry.
  • In 2004 37,823 households could not afford to buy their own flats or rent homes in the open market.' 
These two sources show the severity of poverty in Singapore. Even though the government have done efforts to decrease the rate of poverty, there are still many elderly selling tissue packets at MRT stations and picking up cans and cardboards. These are only some of the examples of poverty in Singapore. 

Below, I will be sharing my experience. I have once encountered an elderly lady selling tissue packets at a hawker centre. She was stopping at every table, asking if the patrons would want to buy some tissue packets, most of them would just ignore her and continue to eat their food. But on that day, a generous couple in their thirties gave the lady a $10 note. The lady gave them 3 packets and was about to find change for them when the male said, "Auntie, it's okay, you don't have to give me change." The elderly lady was shocked but because of her pride, she still wanted to give them change. The woman then said, "Auntie, we'll take more tissue packets, so there's no need for change." The elderly lady reluctantly nodded and gave them more tissue packets. 

From this experience, I think that will buy things from the elderly since that may be their only way of getting income. In the future, I will not ignore them but instead give them some money, even a $2 note will do.  


Image from



No comments:

Post a Comment