Public concern over a retiree's claim at a recent public dialogue that she could not withdraw her Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings has prompted Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor to issue a statement to clear the air.
The retiree in question is Ms Irene Yap, 76, a resident of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, who took part in a dialogue last Saturday on CPF savings, organised by her Member of Parliament Hri Kumar Nair.
Ms Yap had pleaded for help during the dialogue, saying she had been unable to withdraw money from her CPF Retirement Account (RA) and that she wanted to take her money out as soon as possible because at age 76, she did not have long to live.
A video of her emotive plea was circulated online.
Yesterday, Dr Khor said: "In all probability, Ms Yap mistakenly believed that she has no avenue to withdraw her Retirement Account Savings. It is unfortunate that this has led to some public misunderstanding.
"Thus, it is important for the Central Provident Fund Board to clarify any erroneous perceptions and address public concerns."
Both Dr Khor and the CPF Board explained in their statements that the CPF Board had notified Ms Yap four months before her drawdown age in 1998 that she could apply to receive monthly payouts from her RA.
The CPF Board said that Ms Yap was in contact with them subsequently to clarify some matters.
In 2012, in response to some queries Ms Yap had, the CPF Board reminded her she could start her monthly payouts any time, or withdraw her RA savings in a lump sum, provided she had property to pledge.
But again, the CPF Board did not receive any instructions from Ms Yap, Dr Khor said.
The Board also tried to get in touch with Ms Yap after last Saturday's dialogue and visited her yesterday morning.
The Board said it is in contact with Ms Yap to help her withdraw her RA savings if she wants to.
In her statement, Dr Khor said: "I would like to assure members of the public that the CPF Board acts in accordance with prevailing CPF policies in the interests of its members. CPF Board does not withhold any member's CPF monies if they are eligible to withdraw them, as with Ms Yap's case."
The Board said in its statement that CPF members who meet the minimum sum when they turn 55, including those who have pledged their property, can withdraw any amount over the minimum sum from their Ordinary and Special Accounts.
"Such withdrawal can take place at 55 or any time there- after. Some CPF members are eligible to do so, but choose to leave their savings in their Ordinary and Special Accounts," the CPF Board said.
On reaching their drawdown age, CPF members will receive a letter from the Board informing them that they can apply to receive monthly payouts from their RA.
The Straits Times met with Ms Yap late on Friday night, but she declined to comment on the issue.
Mr Nair could not be reached for comment yesterday.
But he had on Wednesday written a Facebook post addressing concerns over Ms Yap's complaint.
In the post, he said that the Manpower Ministry was looking into Ms Yap's difficulties with the CPF Board and he was certain that the matter would be clarified and resolved.