ComCare: Why can’t disclose formula for assistance?


Why can’t the formula to determine the amount of financial assistance for short and medium-term assistance under ComCare be disclosed?

I refer to the article “More families depending on long-term financial aid from Government to get by: MSF” (Straits Times, Oct 5).

It states that “Increasing numbers of seniors who cannot work due to old age or illness and a lack of family support are behind the steady increase in the number of families receiving long-term financial aid.

There were 4,409 households on the government scheme run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in the 2017 financial year, up from 4,387 families in the preceding 12 months.

The 2017 figure was 24 per cent more than the 3,568 families on the scheme in 2013.

The ComCare fund gave out $131 million to 79,470 individuals in the 12 months to March 31 this year (2018), a slight increase on the $130 million disbursed to 83,353 beneficiaries in the 2016 financial year.

The long- term assistance scheme, also known as public assistance, is meant for destitute individuals who permanently cannot work due to old age or illness, and have little or no family support.

A one-person household on the scheme gets a monthly sum of $500, while two-person households get $870. They also enjoy a host of other aid such as free treatment at polyclinics.”

As to “Social workers said the sums disbursed started from a few hundred dollars a month” –

So, what does a few humdred dollars mean? $200, $300 a month?

Why is it that the media as well as the Government never disclose the actual amount of financial assistance to individuals and families, or the formula to determine the amount of assistance?

Since the formula for long-term financial assistance is public information – why is it that for short and medium-term financial assistance is not?

With regard to “There were 27,986 households on this scheme in the 2017 financial year, which ended on March 31 this year” – according to the FY2017 report in the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) web site –

27,986 unique households assisted with ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance in
• 64,191 unique individuals assisted with ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance in FY2017
• $85.29 million disbursed in FY2017″.

So, does it mean that the estimated financial assistance per beneficiary per month is only about $111 ($85.29 million divided by 64,191 individuals divided by 12 months), and about $254 per household?

Isn’t the above information, arguably, in the public interest, and in line with the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the public’s trust?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.