A video of a Singaporean’s interaction with a 79-year-old needy senior citizen is circulating online. In the conversation between the elderly man and Facebook user Kilmar Wong, the senior citizen reveals that he makes a living by collecting and selling used cans.
According to the senior citizen, he needs to sells 65 cans to earn a measly dollar. Wong added that many of such can collectors struggle to survive since they “don’t even make $5 daily.” Watch the video here:
Over five years ago, in 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was asked to define what Singapore considers to be poverty since establishing a “poverty line” would help raise awareness about the difficulties poor Singaporeans face and since it would also help establish how the needy could lift themselves out of poverty.
PM Lee declined to define poverty or establish a poverty line. He said then:
“To have a definition of poverty which encompasses all these different kinds of problems and to say – “This is the poverty number in Singapore, and that is the scale, and it’s a very big number and we are very alarmed because we have been ignoring this problem and now lets focus on it and solve the problem and put the resources in” – I don’t think that is the situation and I don’t think that would be a good approach.”
Adding that it is more important for the authorities to decide where help should go and how much help should be expended, PM Lee further suggested that the poor need to “sort out” the problems that arise “because of his own doing” and that the Government cannot step in since there will be “no end” to citizens repeatedly coming to the Government for help:
“We cannot avoid a social judgement of which needs the society considers meritorious, which needs we consider urgent. Or, it is a problem, but it’s really something that somebody has caused to happen because of his own doing and well, he has to sort it out. Otherwise, there’s no end to him coming to me to say, “I’ve got myself into trouble. Please bail me out.””
The Government has not established a poverty line or defined poverty in Singapore, even as more and more elderly Singaporeans are seen resorting to collecting cans and cardboard to survive, over five years later.