I read with interest the Opinion piece, “How do we ensure elderly Singaporeans don’t need to collect cardboard boxes in their twilight years?” (The Independent Singapore, Nov 21).
Generally, most people are intrinsically empathetic and compassionate towards the needy and underprivileged members of the community. For example, most people would have an uneasy or “helpless” feeling and a sense of sadness when they spot a cardboard collector along a road or a wheelchair-handicapped senior who sells packages of tissue paper at the entrance of a shopping mall, and thus, a substantial amount of charitable money is poured in at the respective President’s Star Charities, as these are perceived as human nature.
And if we don’t often see cardboard box collectors on the roads or tissue paper sellers at malls, it does not mean that they don’t exist in our society. Going without saying, all of them have notable dignity as with any person. Thus, they prefer to depend upon their own little efforts to make a meagre income for a decent living.
Although these vulnerable or underprivileged persons could apply for ComCare Long-Term Assistance or Public Assistance to relieve their living hardship, due to some reasons, they might choose to forgo its application. The possible reasons could be its tedious application procedures and longer processes, and self-dignity.
Anyway, there is a saying, “self alliance is better than seeking external help”. We have to respect their preferences of choices or decisions.
In regarding how to ensure some of our unprivileged elderly seniors don’t need to collect cardboard boxes in their twilight years, or deal with such similar hardships in life, in fact, there will be no perfect or ideal solution to it.
Perhaps we could take a holistic or multilateral approach to deal with unforeseen hardships in life which are faced by our elderly Singaporeans.
We should widen our social welfare and inclusive net. Besides, the Government plays a leading role to induce civil society and commercial organisations to launch periodic welfare programs and assistance schemes to care for those needy, low-income and underprivileged groups.
Next, seeking assistance from their own family enclave and close relatives. Elderly seniors who are poor or underprivileged should first seek help from their own family members whenever they encounter difficulties in life.
Last but not least, any individuals who are going-to-become elderly seniors in the near future should seriously learn to save some pocket money (put aside a certain percentage of income) while they are young and still working. As these significant/valuable savings are reserved for future rainy days use.
As a Chinese idiom duly depicts, “In nature, there are unexpected storms and in life unpredictable vicissitudes.”
Teo Kueh Liang
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Independent Singapore
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OPINION | How do we ensure elderly Singaporeans don’t need to collect cardboard boxes in their twilight years?
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