Govt rejects poverty line, says prosperity line better for social objective

Chan Chun Sing

“Who will go after tampon throwers if we focus on the poor?”

SINGAPORE — The government was today baffled by calls from social workers and experts to define an official poverty line, when the problem had been declared extinct a good twelve years ago.

It was in 2001 when former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani proudly told the world: “There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in Singapore. Poverty has been eradicated.”

With such a bold proclamation coming from a respected thought leader and current Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, government officials have since operated on the premise that poor people exist only in third world countries.

“Poverty? Ha ha! You mean property? That’s the only thing we have or care about in Singapore,” said an official who laughed off the suggestion.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing confirmed that Singapore is not considering having an official poverty line, amid renewed calls for it to look into having one after Hong Kong did the same last month.

“When I meet my Pinnacle@Duxton residents, I say ‘those who are homeless kee chiu!’ but nobody ever kee chiu. So where got poor people you tell me?”

When told that poor people and the homeless do in fact exist in Singapore, MP Seah Kian Peng defended the policy, “We should not assume that everyone who falls below the poverty line requires or wants assistance.”

It is not known if consoling himself with such a thought is what makes the MP sleep well at night.

A spokesman revealed that, if anything, the government is more likely to set an official prosperity line instead.

“Why set a poverty line to go after a nonexistent problem?” said the spokesman.

“We should be setting a prosperity line to measure how many millionaire households we have, to send a signal to the world that there are only first world problems in Singapore.

“Those who meet our prosperity line are welcome to join us and continue to prosper, in line with our social objective.”

Mr Chan also warned of the risk of a ‘cliff effect’, where those outside the poverty line are excluded from all forms of assistance.

He pointed out that if the government is too busy helping poor people, MPs like Tin Pei Ling will have no time going after tampon-throwers, in an example of a pressing first world problem.

Ms Tin reportedly combed seven floors worth of households to find the culprit who disposed soiled tampons out the window.

She followed advice from fellow MP Baey Yam Keng that culprits are best pursued when the tampon is still ‘warm’.

Reporters present were glad, however, to be spared details of Mr Baey’s own exploits in such sticky situations despite his eagerness to share them.

Meanwhile, Ms Tin is glad to have shown her ability to stick with it and calls this her greatest achievement in her two years as an MP.

The Marine Parade MP wanted to show her worth amid rumours that she was first in line if non-essential government workers in Singapore get furloughed in a US-style shutdown.

Following Ms Tin’s blood, sweat and tears, observers now put Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say as favourite to be furloughed.