Singaporean Claims He Only Gets $15/Month From CPF; Says He Will ‘Die of Hunger’

Image: Facebook (Toh Thiam Hock Michael)

When talking about CPF, there are really only two kinds of people:

 

  1. Those who don’t have enough money and worry everything CPF this CPF that.
  2. Those who have enough money and don’t really need to care too much about CPF. It’s pretty automated anyway.

In the case where money is a problem, CPF taking money from your salary can feel like a problem, even if the system, in theory, works for the welfare of the people.

Here’s an illustration of the feeling of someone who worries about money on CPF:

Template: r/Memetemplatesofficial
Editing: Imgflip

And you can see the manifestation of this feeling in a Facebook post by a nearing 70-year-old man, Toh Thiam Hock Michael.

Complaint About Insufficient Retirement Expenses, Only $15

The following two images of his CPF balance and a transfer from DBS for $15 are in the post:

Image: Facebook (Toh Thiam Hock Michael)
Image: Facebook (Toh Thiam Hock Michael)

Along with some commentary, which you can find from the full post slightly below. But here’s the gist:

  • 70 years old on Jan 2020
  • S$66,516.02 in CPF account, which he claims are for his retirement expenses (see image)
  • But money were transferred to various accounts without his agreement
  • CPF returned only S$15.00 on 3 Sep 2019
  • Why are most of the money in Medisave?
  • Will die of hunger before falling sick. Bills also need to be paid.
  • Younger brother died almost 10 years
  • HDB flat is fully paid for
  • Not begging for hand outs, but wants his own savings for retirement
  • Claimed that PAP once said to give CPF money in one lump sum at age 55 with accumulated interest

Full post:

“I am coming to be 70 January 2020. I have a total amount of S$ 66,516.02 in my CPF account for my retirement expenses. But all the money were transferred to various accounts without my agreement and permission and locked up away for my retirement expenses. CPF on 3/9/2019 just returned and released back to me only only $15.00 into my Posb bank account for my retirement expenses for the month of September. How to live and survive on just $15.00 per month. Why transferred most of my money to my medisave account? I will die of hunger before I have the chance of being sick by then. Where is your priority on the used of our cpf money. I am coming to be 70, many people die earlier before me already. My younger brother died almost 10 years already. My hdb flat is fully paid up but what about monthly electricity, water, refuse disposal and conservancy fees having to pay by cash. So Singaporeans be reminder hor, this is what will happen when you are old and retired if you still die die voted for the PAP. I am not begging for hand out but wanted to live with dignity on my own savings for retirement promised to us by PAP government donkey years ago that all the money with accumulated interest will be returned back to us in one lump sum at age 55 but now I am coming to be 70 yes and still waiting. Oh yes just month just returned $15.00 back to me for September retirement expenses.”

But, Are The Complaints Valid?

One thing that seems to be untrue, is that Michael was paid only $15 per month. This picture was an older post from him, which actually showed him receiving monthly payouts of S$250.

Image: Facebook (Toh Thiam Hock Michael)

Another thing that is untrue is the lump sum payment at age 55 claim. It is actually only S$5,000 from your Special Account or Ordinary Account, or additional money after setting aside the retirement sum in the Retirement Account.

What this post illuminates more than anything is that there is a misconception with how CPF works, especially considering the post has been shared 881 times with 470 comments and 435 reactions.

Ah Hock loved Michelle and asked her, ‘Ai stead mai?’ in the 90s. Today, he tried again but would it work? Prepare some tissue paper and watch their love story here:

Whether you agree with CPF is another question, but how it works is basically this: the average person is bad with money, so a group of experts who make better financial decisions helps you decide what to do with your money.

In theory, if say there’s a Jimmy who makes poor financial decisions. Without CPF, Jimmy finds his bank account decreasing every single month even when working, somehow accumulating things like fabulous unicorn finger puppets and farting piggy banks.

(I’m not saying who it is, but it could be a particular writer I know)

CPF ensures that he will at least have some savings for housing or healthcare later on, instead of spending all of his money on these items. At age 55, Jimmy then gets a monthly payout from his savings.

Of course, if you don’t earn enough money in the first place, then it doesn’t matter how good CPF as a system works. Someone using your money better for your benefit is still going to feel like someone taking your money.

This is probably the case in Michael’s and a lot of people who feel similarly.

As for how to make more money to not worry about CPF… that’s a question for another day.

Latest Update From Central Provident Fund (CPF)

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) clarified that the man had already depleted his Retirement Account. CPF has also denied his allegations that most of his CPF savings were transferred to Medisave without his permission, saying that it is untrue and if it were, it would be stated on his CPF statements.

The man had also been informed at the beginning of 2019 that he can withdraw $10,000 from his Ordinary and Special Savings Account savings, despite not having enough savings to meet his CPF basic retirement sum.

CPF also noted that Mr Toh has used more than $86,000 of his CPF savings. $54,000 was used for his flat which has now been fully paid. Also, more than $9000 has been withdrawn from his Retirement Account since 2013.

CPF has also suggested ways in which Mr Toh can increase his retirement income, such as renting out a room or right-sizing to a smaller flat. CPF told The Straits Times that “HDB officers will be able to guide him in the process.”

Hopefully, the issue gets resolved as soon as possible and the hoard of angry Netizens will receive some clarity about this situation.