$660,000 Grab vouchers x roughly 30% fee - $60,000 donation = $138,000 revenue for Grab
A thread about the role of big philanthrophy in SG and how the interests and ideologies of both state and big business are carefully intertwined with it: 1/11
Looking further — Dr. Tahir’s wife is from the Riady family, owner of Lippo Group, which currently owns a 30% share of OVO, the Indonesian digital wallet platform. It previously divested the other 70% stake. 2/11
Grab is a shareholder in OVO, was brought in by a member of the Riady family to invest in OVO, and there were stories last year about a potential M&A with it. 3/11
This is NOT about the nationality of Tahir. Singaporean state has over the years sought to restrict the political and social causes it disagrees with by cutting donations in the name of “foreign interference”. Double-standards. We do not need to respond in the same way. 4/11
The more important things behind this story:
1a. Why can’t the state simply provide the donation in cash to those who need it? Vouchers as a form of welfare and relief are often a result of mistrusting the poor to use money given to them for “the right purposes”. 5/11
1b. This mistrust is prejudice, but even if you were to disagree, is this something to be done during a crisis? If I have as pressing a need to fulfil, I can’t use the money for it? Vouchers mean more bureaucracy to apply, wait for disbursal, get on the platform etc. 6/11
2a. Why should food purchases benefit only Grab and Grab merchants? Amongst a rising chorus of voices calling to support local businesses rather than in-between delivery companies, this seems pretty tone deaf to me. It’s also conditioning people to keep using the platform. 7/11
2b. It’s also conditioning people to keep using the platform. Isn’t this an invasion of private business with profit interests into our social systems? Now that we have set this precedent, what is next? 8/11
3a. Why self pick-up, not delivery? Would self pick-up increase exposure risk, take time away from students/families doing other work? Yes, delivery folks make little and their working conditions are exploitative, but cutting them out (instead of Grab) is not the answer. 9/11
3b. If you want to say service fees take away from the intended benefit of the vouchers - Grab should just waive their share of it while allowing delivery and still pay riders. If they don’t cut their share of benefit to 0, this is nothing but a cheap marketing campaign. 10/11
12/11 - Should add I certainly don't want to say that individual charity is enough to address a crisis that is deeply structural. Need to remake our society from the bottom-up. Saying charity is enough and throwing charity at the problem is a means to silence marginalised groups.
13/11 I’ve been informed that Grab might have recently started offering no commission for self pick-up. But Grab still has other benefits, direct or indirect - device activation fee, expansion of platform reach, Grabpay processing fees, data access.
14/11 I have confirmed that if you do not have access to a smartphone, you will not be able benefit from the CDC student meals scheme yourself - there is no in-kind option to distribute the assistance.
15/11 Why create a scheme where not all who need it can access it? Some low income families have internet. SingStat: In 2018, individual internet access is at 87% of Singapore residents; only 45% of people living in 1 or 2 room flats have internet access.
16/11 Hence the mad rush to provide low income families w computers to access home-based learning. But if you think that taught us something about designing things to work for low-income families...