I have been reading occasionally the posts on Transitioning and I stopped my work midway to write this email.
It saddens me everytime I read articles of individuals being abused in the workplace and with no one to turn to, they actually come to you.
Given that you run Transitioning on a volunteer basis, it is a clear sign of institutional failure that the governmental bodies do not have an effective avenue for the helpless or jobless to turn to.
With the amount of manpower and resources they have, it makes me wonder where did all the tax payers’ money went and what are they doing everyday?
It is also no less deplorable that in most of the articles, the relevant authorities are seen to be referring to some legislation to systematically discharge themselves of any responsibility.
Without you documenting some of these stories, foreigners might really think of Singapore as having world class “Tripartite Relations”.
Hence, I hope you can document these stories, together with part of their NRIC numbers and contact info to make your cases real enough for more to pay attention to.
And to broaden your network, do consider recruiting and mentoring other social workers who can extend your good work.
You should have the ability to “Scale up your Work” and broaden your outreach in the process.
I strongly believe that the government and affiliated institutions such as PA, E2I and NTUC should be doing what you are doing right now.
Everytime I drive past Havelock road and into the city, I pass by PA and NTUC.
With their posh buildings located in the heart of the city, I wonder if they are really serving the needs of our workforce?
Most ironically, the only time when we see them are when they are plying the streets for new membership card sign-ups that offers mostly retail perks.
These efforts are next to useless for the desperate and out of job individual.
Could these membership card sign-ups be a desperate means to shore-up their membership figures?
In a society that is increasingly disillusioned by the ignorance and irresponsibility of these high-and-mighty institutions, they will need new creative measures to produce superficial numerical results.
We all know what these memberships are really about. The wayang should stop or rather the real action should start.
It is frightening to think of PA and NTUC in the same league as SMRT where lured by the lucrative retail sector, management failed to address their core business, which is serving the social transport needs of Singapore.
So how then can these institutions become more relevant to society and reclaim their purpose?
While I’m no genius nor a social entrepreneur, perhaps, I feel that the management of these institutions could consider:-
1) Review their purpose – What their real goals should be and to align themselves accordingly.
2) Setting up a compassionate fund – where the out-of-job individual can seek short-term financial help and in the process, gets identified for career coaching, emotional support and professional counselling. Perhaps the President’s charity fund can help out.
3) Setting up of a Hotline – where trained counselors can deliver emotional support for callers who wish to remain anonymous.
4) Unemployment Insurance – Nothing beats a sustainable financial backup plan. Perhaps NTUC Income or even CPF should offer this.
5) Funding for VWOs focusing on the “Unemployed Sector” — for people like Gilbert yourself.
6) Inter-ministerial cooperation – where the unemployed can be accessed collectively by representatives of HDB, SP Power, IRAS, Town Councils, CDCs, LTA etc to provide temporary financial relief without the need for the individual to approach them one by one.
In Singapore where competition and meritocracy is advocated, it places more importance to uphold Resilience, Perseverance and Social Support to enable our workers to rise up time and again from failure, to survive and thrive.
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