Retiree households among the poorest in Singapore

The Household Expenditure Survey presents a grim picture of retiree households, where nobody is working and everyone is over 60.  They are poorer than the poor. Even with CPF and help from the government, family and friends, their average income is less than the poorest 20 per cent households’.

While the poorest 20 per cent households had an average monthly income of 2.020 Singapore dollars (about $1,600) in 2012/13, the average retiree household’s was considerably less – not even S$2,000.

Retiree households’average monthly income
Retiree households’average monthly income

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One in five Singapore households can’t make ends meet

One in five Singapore households can’t make ends meet. The poorest 20 per cent continue to earn less than they have to spend.

This was not mentioned by the Straits Times and Today though they both quoted the Household Expenditure Survey.

“Household incomes up, with bottom 20 per cent seeing fastest rises,” said the Straits Times front-page headline.

What went unsaid was, their incomes had still not caught up with their expenditures. 

This is mentioned in the survey report — not in the executive summary, but deeper inside.

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Poetry Please: The 10 most popular poems

Here are the top 10 on Poetry Please, the 10 most popular poems on the longest running poetry programme broadcast anywhere in the world, according to the BBC. Started in 1979, the BBC 4 programme presents poems requested by listeners. It reaches two million listeners a week. The top 10 list is from the book, Poetry Please. The poet Roger McGough, who presents the weekly programme, says in his foreword to the book: “The 350 poems here have all been asked for more than once in the programme’s history…” The top 10 includes some of my own favourites.

#1

 

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Lee Kuan Yew on here and hereafter

“It’s Chinese lessons as usual for Mr Lee on 91st birthday,” reported the Straits Times. We saw the Facebook updates from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanking well-wishers for wishing his father a happy birthday and from Goh Chok Tong, who visited the old man and said: “He looked well and sharp…”

Resoundingly, however, there was not a word from the man himself.

Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew

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Poems that make grown men cry

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. The title made me pick up the book. And it was revealing. It brings together poems which have made writers cry.

Auden the tear-jerker
Auden the tear-jerker

So we have Salman Rushdie confessing he is moved to tears by the last lines of WH Auden’s famous poem, In Memory of WB Yeats.

Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong and the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, names Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight, adding: “I read this poem at my daughter’s christening.”

The former Times and Sunday Times editor Harold Evans says he could not hold back his tears when he read Wordsworth’s Character of the Happy Warrior at his predecessor, Sir Denis Hamilton’s funeral service.

The writer Melvyn Bragg mentions Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX. “I have never been able to read this sonnet without stumbling and then stopping. It is the final couplet that finishes me off,” he says. [Read more...]

Mourning the death of a computer

Do you remember when the Straits Times ceased to be free online? Almost 10 years ago. Now almost every major newspaper charges for access, but the Straits Times was one of the first. Putting up paywalls when I could surf almost every site for free – on a computer which still sits on a desk at home, idle, unattended.

A post from the blog, mrbrown
A post from the blog, mrbrown

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Aimless Love, Reader and Poetry by Billy Collins

I love the poems of Billy Collins. Quiet and intimate, they are like sharing your thoughts with your spouse or lover when both of you are feeling happy and have nothing to do. You make small talk, exchange jokes, comment on little details. Collins’s poems are similar in nature. 

Aimless Love by Billy Collins
Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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9/11 in poems and stories

Today is September 11. The day two planes hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists flew into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, bringing them down in flames, killing nearly 3,000 people 13 years ago. I still remember the shock and horror of seeing it happen on television. After the television broadcasters live-reporting the tragedy, the shock was expressed most memorably, I think, by Paul Auster in his novel, Brooklyn Follies.

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Love poems by Brian Patten

I am reading Brian Patten again – after years. I first read his poems in a Penguin paperback called The Mersey Sound. It was an anthology of poems by three Liverpool poets – Patten, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. It was one of my favourite books and I have written about it before. Now I am once again reading Collected Love Poems by Brian Patten. And the pleasure’s all mine. Here are three poems which unaccountably I failed to mention the first time I read the book. The first poem is on the theme of constancy and the next two are so lyrical!

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