Help needy, but do it discerningly

I agree with Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi that the design of our social and family development policies should be based on hard evidence, rather than stereotypes, generalisations and misconceptions (Simplistic to blame individual choices for social inequality; Aug 7) .

Unfortunately, a framework that advocates universal benefits without any conditions seems a tad simplistic and naive as it does not take into account the vagaries of human nature.

Like Mr Chan, I am all for assisting those who are truly in need, including through a programme of guided and assisted self-reliance.

But, it is just as important for us to acknowledge that not all hardship cases occur because of events beyond an individual's control. Hard evidence from some cases do point to poor choices as well as a penchant for free-ridership and a crutch mentality.

It does not mean that help should not be rendered to such individuals or families.

But it certainly means that help should not be dished out to them unconditionally and indefinitely.

What isa disservice to "fellow Singaporeans who are struggling daily with harsh realities in one of the world's richest city states" is a system that hands out grants indiscriminately, especially when such public funds could be channelled to those most in need.

The sooner "bleeding heart liberals" eschew the melodramatic stereotyping of citizens in distress as mere victims of the system who are doing their utmost to make ends meet, the more credible their cause will be.

Toh Cheng Seong