Singapore Budget 2014: Every case of needy persons in media followed up on, says Chan Chun Sing

Every case of a down-and-out Singaporean that appears on social media or in the newspapers is followed up on by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, its minister Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday.

"Very often...some people will post something on the Internet, a story might come out in the evening newspapers," said Mr Chan in Parliament.

"Let me assure all members of this House that my ministry chases up on each and every of these stories even though it is not appropriate for us to reveal their private circumstances or the kind of help that they have been getting."

MSF's policy is not to reveal the names of the people they are helping, he clarified, because it is committed to protecting their privacy.

"Sometimes we take flak for it, but we would rather take the flak than sacrifice the confidentiality of the beneficiaries we're helping. Maybe this is part and parcel of our job."

Mr Chan also asked his fellow MPs "not to judge" when stories of any of these families in trouble are highlighted in the media.

"Very often, there are very complicated stories behind each and every case. Very often the social workers and the community have been quietly working behind the scenes helping these families in need without fanfare," he said.

He was responding to Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC)'s comments that a common response of Singaporeans when they came across others in need, was to take a photo or video and send it to social or traditional media, instead of contacting parties who could help.

"Those who genuinely want to help...we'll be most happy to work with them. But for those with other reasons, it's always difficult," he said.

Last month, one such video by the British Broadcasting Corporation made the rounds online. It featured an unemployed single mother with six children who said no one in her family could afford to fall ill.

Similarly in 2009, there was a public uproar after a video posted online by news service Agence France Presse featured an elderly woman in Singapore who made a living by scavenging for scrap cardboard and selling it.

But later checks by government officials found that she owned property, had savings and a family who wanted to help her - but she did not want to rely on them.

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