MSF Chief: Sad that Our Civil Servants Helped and Even Increased Help, But Still Faced Abuse

TAN CHUAN-JIN: It is not easy to be social workers because the nature of the work is trying. But my officers are passionate about the cause and seek to do their best. Our officers need to do many things…case-manage, be sensitive, firm…but always ensuring that help is provided. Unfortunately, some who need that help, can be demanding and difficult. Some refuse to cooperate with information. Some will verbally abuse and threaten our officers. Just recently, a burly individual slapped and repeatedly punched our lady officer when she went through a routine list of questions.

As you would know by now, some individuals take to social media to vilify and the usual sites will help to further run down our officers. Stories aren’t usually complete. Often, MSF will not respond fully as it is not always appropriate to share some details about the individual and his/her case. But in some instances, we should.

I will not share all his details and our experience with the individual save to say that we have been providing him assistance. I have viewed the video in its entirety. Repeatedly. I paid attention to my officer’s tone and demeanour. There is little doubt that the intent was to help and in fact our team wants to do more.

When Mr Ravi kept insisting that he be paid sooner, my officer responded firmly that this was not like ‘pay’ that was owed. Before we could provide them with the vouchers to support them in the interim, they left.

While I can understand Mr Ravi’s frustration for not getting what he wanted, and for being angry with the words used, I wonder if it is the right thing to do to come to a session with the intent to secretly video and to publicise it? Is this how we want to treat our civil servants who are there to not only help, but in this instance to actually increase help?

While it is sad to see the abuse being generated by some netizens, there is no doubt that our officers will soldier on. But to the many who have expressed support, let me just say on behalf of my team, thank you for your encouragement. It matters that you speak up for them.

To all my officers at the frontline, keep serving with a strong heart. Jiayou!

(READ: Singaporeans Offer Free Rides, Breast Milk and Cash to Help Financially-Strapped Family)




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