Minister of State for the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports Madam Halimah Yacob believes that most needy families in Singapore won’t ask for help. And her view is that we have to respect people’s desires “to say that they have ownership of their lives. (see Today article reproduced below)
She herself is the result of one such family, she told Parliament earlier this week. Implicitly or explicitly, I guess she’s inviting us to conclude that if she’s anything to go by, people at the bottom of the social heap who refuse help needn’t end up dead or worse.
While Madam Halimah may be one exception who makes the rule, I’m more interested to know what happened to the rest of the kids who were in a similar situation like her family’s?
Perhaps things were different when Madam Halimah was a kid.
What is the reality now concerning those who refuse help or don’t know how to get help has been aptly illustrated by the story of the man who was locked up accidentally in his rented flat by the HDB because he was in payment arrears for more than 3 years! (see story reproduced from Yahoo below).
Despite what Madam Halimah says, sometimes, nay often, when a person is terribly poor, he might not be in the right state of mind any more — due to lack of proper nutrition and/or terrible personal circumstances that leave them divorced from reality.
And just as we don’t leave people who want to commit suicide to execute their desire — if we can prevent it! — by shrugging it off as a “personal choice”, I think we can’t, mustn’t, leave those who are desperately poor to shift for themselves, just because they say it’s what they want!
Most low-income families will not ask for help: Halimah
04:46 AM Nov 23, 2011
by Teo Xuanwei
SINGAPORE – She lost her father when she was just eight. And although her family’s income level was in the bottom 10 per cent of the population, Madam Halimah Yacob’s mother never considered getting social assistance.
“Very often, when I was in school, my teacher always told me: ‘Why don’t you go and ask your mother to get social welfare, social assistance?'” the Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports shared with the House, in response to a question by Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) about the number of needy families who choose to fend for themselves instead of getting financial aid.
Mdm Halimah had shared the findings from a survey of 2,000 low-income families that showed that 60 per cent of them preferred to be self-sufficient.
“But my mother would be terribly horrified with any suggestion that she should go and get social welfare or social assistance. Because when my father died … my mother said that so long as she has two hands and two legs, we will all survive,” Mdm Halimah said, blinking back tears.
Mdm Halimah made the point that we have to respect people’s desires “to say that they have ownership of their lives”.
Copyright 2011 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved
Man accidentally locked in flat by HDB officers
Imagine being locked inside your flat without food or water for a day. At least that’s what a 63-year-old elderly man experienced after finding himself locked inside his rental flat in Bukit Merah.
Officers from the Housing Development Board (HDB) had changed the locks to his two-room rental flat at Henderson Road on Monday afternoon without realising the man, who wanted to be known as Mr Liao, was still inside, The New Paper reported.
Apparently, officers did that to repossess the flat as it had been in rental arrears amounting to $2,000 for more than three years, the paper said.
According to local Chinese tabloid Shin Min Daily, Liao was not able to respond well to questions posed by its reporter.
On this issue, an HDB spokesman told TNP that referrals have been made to the family service centre and Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to assist him but it has not been successful as Liao was not responsive.
When officers first arrived at the flat, they found the main door wide open and, despite repeated calls to find out if anyone was inside the flat, there was no response.
In light of this issue, an HDB said that its internal procedures will be tightened to ensure such incidents do not take place again.
Liao was “released” from his flat on Tuesday afternoon after a neighbor informed HDB officers of the incident.
Throughout the day he was locked in, TNP reported that Liao allegedly had no water for consumption and asked neighbours for water and food.
But even prior to the incident, Liao, who is unemployed would sometimes ask for money and food. A neighbor said she has seen him leaving his flat with a plastic bag, searching for leftover food at coffeeshops, the paper said.