One of the personal stories about how Workfare benefited 300,000 who are in the older, low-wage workers category started off this way:
"When Workfare was first introduced in 2007, massage therapist Kelly Poon, 44. was working part-time and earning $950 a month.
The Workfare Income Supplement boosted her income by $900 that year."
Since the morning caffeine fix hadn't kicked in yet, the initial reaction was like "Wow! What a caring government to help those in financial need!" At first reading, the sentence construction made it seem like she had her income nearly doubled.
In reality, the more than $300 million paid out to over 300,000 workers is spread pretty thin. In 2009, each recipient received an average of "more than" $1,000. Before you smile again, note that 2/7 of the payout is in cash, 5/7 is deposited in the illiquid Central Provident Fund. The self-employed is worse off, their money is locked away in Medisave. No wonder some call CPF the "Coffin Provision Fund".
Mr Savakumar's personal experience with the state generosity is Workfare payout of between $535 to $1,732. That's per year, not per month. Ms Poon, who currently receives $250 per year from Workfare, states the obvious when she wished more was in cash and less channelled to her CPF account. "The money helps a little, but how long does $100 last? Only three weeks at the most," she said in Mandarin, not meaning to sound ungrateful. Couldn't have phrased it more accurately than the politically correct journalist.