MSF responds to complaint against officer who told man 'we don't owe you' during argument

The service counter at the Social Service Office@Boon Lay.
The service counter at the Social Service Office@Boon Lay. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has responded to a complaint from a man who claimed an officer from Boon Lay Social Service Office (SSO) used harsh words on him when he tried to seek additional financial help.

Mr Ravi Rajasagaran, 33, visited the SSO with his wife on Thursday (Dec 3) morning, where the officer explained to them that there would be a delay in crediting their financial assistance.

Mr Ravi, who had requested for additional financial help because the family was expecting a second child this month, was unhappy that he was told about the delay only during the meeting which took place one day before he was due to receive the money.

The officer apologised to the couple for the delay but there was an exchange of words.

The exchange, which was captured on camera by Mr Ravi's wife and posted on Facebook, showed the officer telling Mr Ravi towards the end of their conversation "we don't owe you".

Taking offence at what the officer said, the couple left the meeting in a huff and later lodged a formal complaint against Boon Lay SSO.

In a statement to The Straits Times on Friday (Dec 4) evening, the ministry said: "The SSO officer involved recognised that his choice of words during the interview were insensitive to Mr Ravi.

"We understand that applicants may feel anxious during the financial application process at the SSOs. Our officers will do their best to help and provide assurance to those in need, while ensuring the proper usage and accounting of public funds."

MSF also urged members of the public to respect the "confidentiality and privacy" of the parties involved by not secretly video-taping and recording conversations, and subsequently posting it on social media.

It also revealed that the officer had prepared vouchers for the couple to help them with their basic necessities in the interim, but had no chance to offer them as Mr Ravi left in a huff.

A MSF staff spoke to Mr Ravi on Friday morning and invited him to drop by at the SSO again to collect the vouchers. Mr Ravi eventually turned up and acknowledged he was angry during his visit the day before, but declined to take the vouchers.

MSF said it has been providing financial assistance to Mr Ravi and his family since September last year. He recently appealed for additional financial help because the family was expecting a second child this month.

"Our colleagues from the Social Service Office@Boon Lay thus initiated an early review and increased the amount of assistance to Mr Ravi from $600 to $800 per month," MSF added.

"This change resulted in a delay of a few days in the crediting of financial assistance to Mr Ravi in the month of December."