A local Chinese newspaper reported that a 61-year-old woman was killed when a BMW crashed into her just before 7am along Collyer Quay on Saturday (20 Feb).
The accident happened when the victim, Madam Tan Powi Kim, was on her usual weekly routine to collect cardboxes with her husband, a rag-and-bone man.
Madam Tan’s husband, Mr Cheng Kiat Yan, is 68 years old and the elderly couple have been collecting cardboards on weekends for over 10 years. They earn under $1000 per month. She was collecting the cardboard boxes because “she liked it (and) it was her way to keep active,” said her son.
The elderly woman was not living hand-to-mouth. She had even planned to go on a holiday to Bangkok with her daughters.
Madam Tan is the pillar of strength for her family. When her first husband passed away, she single-handedly raised her family of 3 by running a noodle-stall. Mr Cheng is her second husband, and she married him 10 years ago.
Madam Tan was standing on the loading bay at the back of the parked lorry, and was handing her husband (who was on the back of the lorry) stacks of cardboard boxes when the accident happened.
The impact of the accident caused Mr Cheng to fall off the lorry, fracturing his leg and causing him to black out momentarily. When he came to, he found his wife lying on the car’s bonnet.
Mr Cheng said that the driver of the black BMW appeared dazed, and that he did not apologise or come to help. Only when Mr Cheng asked him to help him carry his wife onto the ground did the driver move.
The police were alerted to the accident at 7.07am, and said that the 45-year-old BMW driver was arrested for causing death by a negligent act. The man is still under police investigation.
The elderly couple were taken to Singapore General Hospital, where Madam Tan later died. Her husband had his injuries treated and is now at home.
In July last year Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, shared several pictures of cardboard collectors on his Facebook with the caption, “Have you ever spoken to a Cardboard Uncle or Aunty?”.
He met the cardboard collectors with a group of young Singaporeans from Youth Corp on a project they initiated – to get first hand insight into the lives of elderly cardboard collectors.
The Minister shared that he was surprised by the findings of the project, that the normal perception that all cardboard collectors are people who are unable to take care of themselves financially is false.
The Minister said, “there will be some who do this as their main source of income. Some do so to supplement what they have. Some prefer to earn extra monies, treat it as a form of exercise and activity rather than being cooped up at home. They do this to remain independent, so that they can have dignity and not have to ask their families for help.”
Mr Tan’s remarks were severely criticised by Facebook users who commented on his post. They slammed the Minister for being out-of-touch, “delusional”, and some others went as far to say the entire thing was staged for a little public relations boost.Follow us on Social Media
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