Things that I did not say...

In the New Paper article, "Welfare shoppers & their excuses", Genevieve Jiang writes, "The women and her three young children had been living in a shelter for homeless families for the past three months. But something was amiss. The husband whose husband was in jail, told staff at the shelter that she was getting financial help from a family service centre (FSC). But Mr. Ravi Philemon, manager of New Hope Shelter for Displaced Families, sensed something was not quite right. Said Mr. Ravi: "it was suspicious because she was constantly making calls and trips to two different FSCs. I suspected that she was a 'welfare shopper' who was getting help from various sources." When Mr. Ravi checked with the FSCs, he found out the help the woman was getting had been duplicated - she had also been getting aid from the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund for a few months. He alerted the FSCs. One of them stopped the funding. Said Mr. Ravi, "some needy families or individuals can be very resourceful in seeking help. They know their way about the system and can sometimes abuse it." The problem of welfare shoppers is not new, Mr. Ravi said, and it has not improved over the past few years. Some develop a "crutch mentality". Out of more than 30 families staying at the New Hope Shelter, there are usually three or four who refuse to help themselves and choose the easy way out, he said."

Genevieve is usually quite balanced in her reporting. But I think in this instance, she had misquoted me and had even said that I said things which I did not say.

Although I did speak with her about the family with three children, whose husband is incarcerated and had said that she was getting financial aid from two different FSCs. I did not reflect this person as a "welfare shopper", in fact the word "welfare shopper" is not even in my spoken vocabulary. For one, there is no way where I would be able to track if she was "constantly making calls and trips to two different FSCs", for me to make such a statement.

And during the phone interview, Genevieve did ask me if the number of "welfare shoppers" had gone up. I replied that I see no such increase. The intended meanings change drastically when this reply is misconstrued to say, "The problem of welfare shoppers is not new, Mr. Ravi said, it has not improved over the past few years."

When Genevieve asked me if there are people who abuse the helps offered by the shelter, I replied that many are actually thankful for the helps that we provide and that only 5 - 10% of the people in the shelters, actually are 'challenging' clients. Again, this was misquoted to say, "Out of the 30 families staying at the New Hope Shelter, there are usually three or four who refuse to help themselves and choose the easy way out". The two statements reflect entirely opposing views.

Comments

Chee said…
Hello!

I am wondering if you have any inklings why she has misquoted you as such.

Is it a genuine mistake?

Was she trying to sensationalize the story for her personal benefit as a reporter?

And I thank you for your work sincerely. I will consider volunteering more in my adult life.

Or was she trying to twist the story to fit into the government's warnings of the "crutch mentality"?
ravi4u2 said…
I certainly do not think that it was a honest mistake. She was writing a series and if you look at the series, it is slanted towards those who were abusing the system. And when she spoke with me on the phone, she asked me if the rules for obtaining financial aid should be tightened. I am truly appreciate your compliments. I would certainly be happy if I have inspired you to give back some to society in the future.