Home News Some things wrong in viral post about elderly woman cleaner

Some things wrong in viral post about elderly woman cleaner

Members of the public urged to link those who need help with the Ministry of Social and Family Development

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Singapore — The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has clarified some details in the story about an 82-year-old woman who works as a cleaner.

The story about the woman, referred to by the ministry as Mdm L, went viral after it was posted on Facebook by user Meng Shuen Koh on Saturday (July 25). The post has been taken down.

The woman had told the user that she was a Malaysian-born citizen who lived in Sembawang with two friends. Mdm L had said that her husband had passed away and her only son had died in a commando “heli-rapelling” exercise “a long time ago”.

The user also wrote that Mdm L had been promised compensation for her son’s death by the Government but had not received a single cent to date. She also shared that she was headed to Sentosa as there was a job there that would pay S$10 per hour to wash dishes. It was also alleged that Mdm L worked as a cleaner and dishwasher at Tampines Hub and is paid S$5 an hour.

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Mdm L had also confided that she had to sell her house to pay for four major heart operations that cost about S$40,000 each.

On Wednesday (July 29), the MSF clarified the story in a Facebook post. It said Mdm L lived in a five-room flat with her son’s family and was provided with food and shelter by her son.

The Ministry of Defence clarified that her elder son, a regular warrant officer, died during a Singapore Armed Forces free-falling training session in South Africa in May 2009. It said full compensation had been paid to the son’s family.

The MSF’s Social Service Office (SSO) sent staff to visit Mdm L on Tuesday (July 28) to see if she required any assistance.

Contrary to the story on Facebook, Mdm L is a permanent resident and, prior to the circuit breaker period, was earning a monthly gross salary of about $1,300, excluding CPF deductions.

Additionally, the MSF clarified that her employer had arranged for her and other full-time employees to work part-time, paying about S$675 for her 4-hour shifts. This amounted to about S$6.50 per hour. The employer explained that the cleaners would be reviewed and reinstated to full-time employment when business improved.

The MSF said that it was assessing her eligibility for the Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG), which provides monthly payouts of S$500 to  S$800. It also mentioned that she receives benefits like the Solidarity Payment, which is extended to cover permanent residents.

Furthermore, it gave the assurance that grassroots organisations would be supporting her with S$120 food vouchers monthly for the next six months and that it was arranging for her to get some help for her medical expenses.

The MSF stressed that posting and sharing circumstances of people in need of help on social media might lead to further distress for them and their families. In addition, the details shared might not be completely accurate because of the stressors they faced.

It encouraged members of the public to link anyone who needed help directly with MSF through any SSO or Family Service Centre. It added that Mdm L indicated she was unaware that her comments would be shared on social media and of being photographed.

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, wrote on Wednesday (July 29) that Mdm L “is distraught by all the attention the post has brought to her” and that “she has been harassed at home by people who have been flocking to where she is staying”.

Mr Tan has urged members of the public to stop going to her place of work or approaching her and her family even if they meant well. /TISG

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