As the numbers go, 800,000 households are supposed to receive up to $45 million in utilities rebates. The Ministry of Finance calculates this should cover 3 to 4 months of utility bills for families living in one- and two-room flats. That's approximately less than $20 per month for these folks. After the 3 to 4 months of relief runs out, they may have to resort to washing up in public toilets and using candles for illumination. That's not funny at all.
The permanent secretaries who perpetuate this one-hand give, one-hand take charade sure has a sick sense of humour. A cynical salesman who demonstrated the Draco set-top box (STB) - which is needed when digital television broadcast is finally rolled out by end 2016 - said that when they waived the $100 television fee, they were already planning to rip us off on pay-TV charges. The cable or mioTV option costs more than $20 a month. There's good reason the newer public housing flats don't have a central master antenna, free to air (FTA) broadcasts is going the way of the dodo.
The Draco STB retails at $129. Or you could buy a new TV with a digital tuner conforming to the DVB-T2 standard. Early adopters who bought the DVB-T tuner just got plugged. There's talk the STB will be provided free for the needy; electricity charges are extra costs.
Maybe those folks whose utility bills are in the region of $20 a month weren't supposed to watch television. Maybe they are supposed to stay quietly in their darkened room to save energy; every hour for them is a lights-out Earth Hour. And since their homes will be kept in the dark, no one will notice there are poor people in developed countries like Singapore. Kishore Mahbubani, who has just been named by leading British current affairs Prospect magazine as one of this year's top 50 world thinkers, was the first to say poverty in Singapore has been eradicated. Now that's funny.