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Kenneth Jeyaretnam criticizes MSF’s POFMA on NCMP Leong Mun Wai’s Facebook post

RP Chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam criticizes MSF’s POFMA order on NCMP Leong Mun Wai for a Facebook post on an elderly couple. Mr Jeyaretnam questions government payout adequacy and condemns alleged release of the couple’s confidential information without consent.



SINGAPORE: Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the Secretary-General of the Reform Party, has criticized the Correction Directions (CD) issued under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai.

Mr Leong, also the Secretary General of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), recently faced the POFMA order by the Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) for a Facebook post concerning an elderly disabled couple.

Mr Leong stated that the couple informed him they only received a Home Caregiving Grant (HCG). MSF countered, stating the couple had actually “received approximately S$39,000 in cash and vouchers from various public sector agencies and community partners.”

However, Mr Jeyaretnam called out MSF for “haste to correct ” Mr Leong, challenged the adequacy of the government payout for the elderly couple and criticized the alleged release of their confidential information without their consent, including details about their CPF and Medisave.

Mr Jeyaretnam challenges the adequacy of S$830 for elderly couple’s basic living standards

On 15 February, the MSF Minister, while correcting the purported misinformation, clarified that the elderly couple approached by Mr Leong had received a broad range of support, including $21,000 in ComCare assistance from May 2021 to April 2023.

The minister mentioned they were currently receiving “financial assistance from various public sector agencies and community partners,” including the Home Caregiving Grant, South West Community Development Council Utilities Vouchers, NTUC supermarket vouchers from the People’s Association, and cash of S$300 per month from a temple, totalling around S$830 per month in cash and vouchers.

However, Mr Jeyaretnam contested that the reported monthly assistance of S$830 for the couple is insufficient to maintain a basic standard of living for elderly individuals, citing calculations from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in 2019.

The survey in 2019 mentioned that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need S$1,379 a month to meet his or her basic needs, while the latest MIS report has revised the amount to S$1,492.

For an elderly couple aged 65 and above, the figure rises to S$2,551, while those aged between 55 and 64 years require S$1,857.

Mr Jeyaretnam also pointed out that S$830 a month adds up to only S$9,960 a year, and he questioned the lack of explanation from MSF and called for a breakdown between vouchers and actual cash, emphasizing the potential limitations of vouchers compared to cash.

He contended that the couple’s CPF savings of over S$100,000 are irrelevant to their current needs, as they cannot withdraw more than S$5,000 unless they each have the Basic Retirement Sum.

“The rest has to go to buy a CPF Life annuity. As the husband is 60 and the wife 55 they will only be able to access this money through the purchase of an annuity in 5 years, in the case of the husband’s savings, and 10 years in the case of the wife. That does nothing for their cash needs now.”

In addition, Mr Jeyaretnam pointed out that even if the couple converts S$100,000 of CPF savings into an annuity, the resulting income is expected to be approximately S$1,000 per month.

Regarding the clarification from MSF, it was stated that in April 2023, the woman received a lump sum CPF payout of S$5,000.

S$300 assistance from a temple

Furthermore, Mr Jeyaretnam raised questions about the value of NTUC vouchers, suggesting that they may not entail costs for the government and could potentially be funded by the excess profits earned by NTUC Fairprice.

He also emphasized that a significant portion of the assistance, specifically S$300, comes from a temple.

Mr Jeyaretnam stressed that unless the temple is state-funded, this contribution is not government money but rather derived from private donations.

Jeyaretnam’s critique of Government’s alleged confidential information leak

Jeyaretnam also criticizes the government for allegedly leaking confidential information about the couple without their consent, including details about their CPF and Medisave.

Drawing a comparison with a previous incident involving Hri Kumar, a former PAP MP, who disclosed that an elderly woman complaining about CPF withdrawal lived in landed property, Jeyaretnam contends that such actions would be considered criminal in most developed countries.

“In the UK and the EU it would be a breach of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations),” he then questioned the exemption of government agencies from the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore.

Mr Jeyaretnam expressed concern over the release of the couple’s confidential data, asserting that its sole purpose seems to be enabling the PAP Government to score a political point.

“Singaporeans should decide whether this is appropriate or whether it should be made a breach under the PDPA.”

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It’s definitely a breach of pdpa!

Unless it is stated that msf is exempted in the Act? Is it stated?

MSF shd backdate the law retrospectively like the appointment of Tharman in his non-presidential role like imf.

KJ is just a fucking sore loser. Lost big time in elections, rejected by we majority voters, still having this thick skin to make noise. Fucking attention seeker. If I were him, I would go jump down from MBS