Doing her part to help struggling Singaporeans
Constituency director who reviewed Temporary Relief Fund applications saw at first hand how deeply Covid-19 outbreak has affected her community
A man in his 40s cried as he shared his struggles to pay his wife's hospital bills when his work at the airport was suspended.
A single mother of three struggled to put food on the table as she was jobless.
Ms Cheng Shing Meng, 49, constituency director at Fengshan Community Centre, has heard hundreds of heart-rending stories daily while handling Temporary Relief Fund (TRF) applications, which close today.
Her team of 17 People's Association staff worked up to 16 hours each day and cleared up to 300 appeals each during the first two weeks.
All to ensure the needy received the financial aid they sought - a one-time $500 payout to those whose jobs were affected by Covid-19.
Ms Cheng said: "I prefer to talk to them to get a real feel of what they are facing instead of just looking at the forms.
"Covid-19 has hit people and we are seeing how deeply it is affecting our community and how so many people are overlooked."
Some elderly applicants could not articulate who their employers were. Her team helped contact their employers for proof of employment for the applications.
She said several applicants were rejected as they were not eligible .
One was a man who insisted on applying despite his family income being well above $18,000 a month - $8,000 more than the eligibility limit.
Another was a woman who claimed to be a tutor but refused to produce any documentary proof of her employment, such as students' contact details or publicity material.
Ms Cheng said: "I hope such people realise they are taking away the resources that others need to put food on the table and to pay urgent bills."
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said on Facebook on April 7 that a small number of people were taking advantage of the schemes.
He wrote: "You are doing this at the expense of many Singaporeans who are in genuine crisis and need this help."
As of April 17, 300,000 TRF applications had been received since applications opened on April 1.
Hawker Low Teck Kuang, 62, did his part to help people with TRF appeals by working with Fengshan CC to open booths in Bedok to help the 100 hawkers under his supervision.
Many struggled with language, technology and were cash-strapped.
The Bedok North Market and Food Centre where they work was closed from February till April for renovations.
And the hawkers have to dig deeper into their savings as the closure was extended till June due to the circuit breaker.
Mr Low, who has been operating a fishball noodle store there since 1979, said: "We prepared only for two months of closure, but now we will be out of work for almost four months.
"I have been working closely with these hawkers for many years, and I felt a responsibility to help them."