Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Manpower

Lifelong freelancer who saves with discipline

Mr Samioen says not having perks used to be a concern, but he has saved enough to buy his own medical insurance.
Mr Samioen says not having perks used to be a concern, but he has saved enough to buy his own medical insurance.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Private-hire car driver Samioen Moksam has spent almost all his working life without a boss telling him what to do.

The 51-year-old was a property agent for more than 20 years, after which he turned to driving.

Initially, he helped a friend to pick up clients from the airport and show them around Singapore. In 2013, when gig platform Uber came onto the scene, he signed up and, today, drives for Grab as well.

The job gives him the freedom to dedicate time to family and religious studies, he said.

"I can arrange my work so I can spend time with my kids," said Mr Samioen, who has four children aged between 16 and 28.

He is one of about 10,500 private-hire car drivers in Singapore, a figure Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say disclosed yesterday, following a survey his ministry did for the first time on freelance workers and their concerns.

Mr Samioen said that when he was younger, not having Central Provident Fund savings, medical benefits, annual leave or bonuses was a concern.

But he has since saved a comfortable amount to provide for his family and buy medical insurance.

"Our income is not fixed, so we must have discipline. In the months we earn more, we must put aside some for savings," he said.

"Not every day is Sunday," he quipped, referring to the busiest day of the week for most drivers.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Lifelong freelancer who saves with discipline'. Print Edition | Subscribe