The hidden truth about poverty in Singapore

One day, there was an article about Singaporeans queuing up and buying many masks at one go. When asked why they were buying so many, most said that they were buying them for their friends and family members, and that they did not know when the haze would end.

And, on another day, there was an article about a Singaporean who could not afford a mask, has to cycle to send her children to school every day and sell curry puff in the haze. She could not even afford to switch on the fan, for she wanted to save on the PUB bill.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, both articles are in the same national newspaper, not some online news site.

What is the first thought that comes to you?

Singapore is often recognized as one of the richest countries in the world. In other words, if Singapore were a household, you could compare Singapore as a condo in Orchard Road—no doubt from the surface, we have high GDP, our location is excellent and our infrastructure is almost futuristic. But deep within, with these two articles, you can see that while it looks perfect, there are apparently hidden cracks.

One Singaporean can buy ten masks just to keep at home. One Singaporean cannot even afford to buy one.

One Singaporean can buy two McDonald’s meals and throw them away, because she wants the Hello Kitty. One Singaporean loitered around coffeeshops for discarded food.

One Singaporean can earn $8,000 a month working 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. One Singaporean can earn $800 a month working 6.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.

I would argue that if you’re reading this, you belong to the group that does not need to struggle for food on the table. The reason is simple—you have a computer or a smartphone.

But what is disturbing is this: Some of us have lived in a sheltered area for so freaking long that we forgot about these cracks in society. One of my friends, a young lady who studied in a prestigious secondary school, told me this before: “When I have kids, I’ll send them to neighbourhood schools to see the real world.” She said she was surprised in that in her school, there were still people who believed in this:

No money to buy mask? No such thing in Singapore lah.

No money to buy food? This is Singapore leh.

No money to go university? Excuses lah; must be bad results.

Therefore, I suggest that wherever you are—be it in the affluent circle or middle-class circle—to go out and see the real world. See the cracks, and if you want to, do something about it. Appreciate and acknowledge instead of mere saying “no such thing lah”, because there is such thing lah.

Since you’re here, why not watch a video about an NTU student who went all out to impress his crush, only to end up in…tragedy? Here, watch it and do remember to share it (and also subscribe to Goody Feed YouTube channel)!

This article was first published on in 2014 and revised on 10 November 2017.

Goody Feed Team

Goody Feed Team

The Goody Feed Team comprises either several in-house writers or an individual in-house writer who prefers to stay anonymous. The reason to stay anonymous is simple: a writer won’t want his girlfriend to read an article like “10 things boyfriends hate about their girlfriends”, right?
Goody Feed Team