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Tan Chuan Jin on his encounter with elderly cleaners and vagrants

Posted by temasektimes on July 7, 2012

Singapore elderly working as cleaners, collecting cardboards in the streets and begging on the roads is a common sight in Singapore nowadays as an increasing number of them fell into hard times due to lack of a comprehensive social safety net.

Though Singaporeans have the highest saving rates in the world, the bulk of them are locked in their CPF accounts which cannot be drawn out, leading to many elderly to continue working in their twilight years.

Minister of National Development Tan Chuan Jin had an encounter with a beggar and a cleaner lately which he shared as a note on his Facebook.

“Saw an uncle begging from table to table, gesticulating that he needed money for food. He was neatly and cleanly dressed. I spoke to him, asking him where he stayed, if he needed help. Initially he acted as if he could not speak or understand. I started asking him where he stayed, if he needed assistance…seemed to understand and started to walk away and waved me good-bye!” Mr Tan wrote.

He added that he knew a few vagrants and “a number do not want to be put in homes as they prefer to eke out their own living and be flexible on where they go and stayed.”

Mr Tan also spoke to a 72 year old cleaner who ‘chose’ to work:

“I asked him if his children were supporting him and why he was working. He said that he would be bored if he stayed home and if he could still work, he would rather still continue to do so.”

PAP leaders have been urging Singaporeans to work as long as they can so that they can continue to support themselves financially and not become a burden to the state.



29 Responses to “Tan Chuan Jin on his encounter with elderly cleaners and vagrants”


    Obviously…giving burden to the state literally means giving the pappies and the familee burden! Correct me if I’m wrong!

  2. jaded said

    so what is the point? that sinkies dun want any help, even when they are destitute? and they like to work until they die?

    utter rubbish!


  4. Utter Rubbish said

    Go ahead.. Continue to live in denial MIWs.. Singaporeans will give u a BIG kick out of Parliament in 2016.

    • FR said

      You think. Those who wake up, they will be more than balanced by non-natives.

    • CKMPD said

      good point! let the pap console themselves and think that these aged Singaporeans enjoy working as toilet cleaners and wiping tables.

  5. Wicked Brain said

    Will it be a better sight if old people can retire gracefully, enjoying their twilight years having meals in restaurants and strolling in parks?

    • CKMPD said

      it will make Singaporeans less stressed when they know their parents are strolling in the park or practising taichi rather than working as toilet cleaners

      • Wicked Brain said

        Frankly, who will want to beg, wash public toilets or collect carton boxes to sell at the age of 70+ ? Just because they have to not because they choose to be.

  6. Mike Zeng said

    So, from these 2 examples,Minister Tan is refuting the Oppos’ claim that many oldies here are eking out a living just to survive? He’s hinting that it was their choice to work and they won’t starve if they don’t! Any rebuttal from readers here?

  7. papsmear said

    People begging for $, u don’t give and still ask so much of couse walk away lah! 72 yrs old no money of couse go work lah, u think everyone like u born with silver spoon? Really want to help then give them ur salary lor!

  8. spotlessleopard said

    What our multimillion Politician did not reveal about so called “Homes”….they are actually PRISONS……it is 24/7guarded with wire fencing, there is a strict regime : 1)Wear “homeUniforms”:, 2)wake up at fixed times, 3) eat at fixed times, 4)No smoking 5) No beer 6)Lights out at 9pm or 10pm 7) Cannot leave “home” without “guarantor”: that you must return… tell me IS THAT A HOME OR A PRISON?…..”SO WHAT DO YOU THINK MINISTER?”
    ALL THESE PEOPLE WANT IS THEIR DIGNITY AND TO GET A DECENT JOB….not $800 a month cleaning toilets or collecting plates ….

    • Julie Ong said

      The 72 years old cleaner is to be praised. More than that I’d suggest that he be helped with a subsidy the quantum of which can be worked out.
      Mr Tan Chuan Jin, this is an opportunity to make good. A chance for the government to show that it is not only tough minded but also have a heart.
      I do not want to argue for nothing but having this elderly uncle working like that is certainly not ‘Swiss Standard’ or is it?
      Do have a think about it Mr Tan. I hope that your government will re-establish trust and confidence in that you will not allow the citizens to fall ‘through the cracks’. PAP is acronym for People Action Party. Action now please.
      Thank you.

  9. Merlion said

    If I grow old, I would not want to pick cupboard and beg for money. What should I want to do that? I would only do it if I don’t have a choice!!

    • CKMPD said

      Agree, Merlion.

      Can TCJ put his hand on his heart to say that he truly believe that these old people clean toilets, wipe tables, pick cupboards because they have nothing better to do at home?

  10. Singaporean said

    Denise Phua’s son is autistic and hence she is so passionate about starting and fighting for parents whose children are autistic.. Should we have a MP or minister curse with someone or his relative loosing his/her job at 40s and been discriminated so that he will understand the difficulties we are going thru.

  11. bb said

    I was having dinner witha firend who is working in Shanghai. He pointed out to me a big difference is old ppl in sg collecting plates in hawker centres and restaurants whereas in China all are young ppl.

  12. The point is whilst I am sure that some would rather work but can they be given better opportunities than to be cleaning tables , cleaning toilets and collecting card board – do you see this kind of occurances in other 1ST WORLD COUNTRIES or is it only in THOIS 1st WORLD COUNTRY ! It is precisely that cost of living is so high these days that thier CPF may not be sufficient and if you look at it – if you have used the CPF to pay off the house would what remians be sufficient to retire on if you were not in tyhe upper crust ? or had a well paying job ? Especially if they had to put their children through uni and all and they were not scholar material – or worse if they cannot even make local university because the garmen wants to raise the bar and invite & support ” poreign talents “that turns round to call their hosts – DOGS !

  13. Big Daddy said

    Big Daddy interviewed a girl in geylang after our act of passion also. She claimed that she LOVES TO FUCK, that’s why she became a whore, if she marry someone, she only get allowance. Now she can taste different cocks, fucked by different people and she gets paid. So proud of her.

  14. Blue Nights said

    People are not stupid. They know implicitly to whom they can tell their deepest needs. Asking for handouts is already difficult enough but one can do so anonymously in the sense that there is no necessity to justify why one is asking for money if one is begging on the streets. ‘The asker’ could even make something up. Who is to know? If the person asked refuses to give, ‘the asker’ can just walk away.

    By the time this Tan fellow, whoever he thinks he is, starts to ask these elderly citizens why they are asking for help (in the open in front of his many handlers and strangers in the streets), this Tan Chuan Jin is publicly saying “I have a right to know your deepest needs and I have the ability to help you or maybe not. And the fact that I am doing this in the open is to show others how great I am. Look at me, I AM THE MINISTER!”

    Why would anyone with any dignity subject themselves to such shows of humiliation? Just because a person has a need, he os she also has a choice of who to tell it to, when to tell it to, or whether he/she wants to have to give any explanations for anything.

    If this Tan person is serious about helping, here is a suggestion:
    Print out Tan Chuan Jin’s own personal number where he can actually be reached and invite these so-called needy people to call anytime they have needs and they could discuss whatever it is IN PRIVATE and in confidence.

    It is a strength to ask for help. There is no need to rub it in.

    This Tan Chuan Jin maybe an excellent bean counter (watch Kurusawa’s IKIRU and find him there) but he is no talent at knowing how to connect.

  15. Merlion said

    Singapore is a country where you have to work till you died. But Government will say that we work till we died because we made the choice.

  16. hachoo said

    This can be either regarded as self dillusion or mental masturbation !!

  17. Ron said

    Several angles to the situation for the Poor:

    – It is okay to be doing cleaning and rubbish collection so long as health permits. Go to Japan or HK and see for yourself. No FTs, their own nationals doing that.

    – Begging is not allowed in Spore for good reason. It fosters a dependency. And the elderly also have to do their part.

    – The Senior citizens rooms with TV, exercise equipment, games board are open daily. Are these people using them?

    – Community centres, I presume, will register the elderly and poor and try to help. Are they going there?

    We cannot solve the problem by just blaming the government. Those who are young now better work hard, save hard and plan for their old age.

    I see the elderly smoking, buying 4D. It is not such a straightforward case. Even in Japan, thousands of men are willing to live in cardboard boxes each night rather than go home or do something else. And they do not look half-starved or in rags. In fact some are even fat. The government had kindly provided public toilets at train stations where they can use for cleaning up.

  18. Crap said

    Utter rubbish. Ur check is base on 1 to 5 ? Or hundred thousand. Utter rubbish a lot of pap minister jia Liao bee no calibre and dun know why they are minister. Go and ask if they have medical problem ESP elderly who dun want a safety net to help them. Dun ask stupid answer like reflect on urself ah when someone call u dog or wat do u expect me to say when someone ask u question. Pay so high and as if u govern like US big state knn crap

  19. Ooh-la-la said

    I say, give our seniors back their CPF monies and many wld not hv to be beggars. Also, seniors earning up to 1k a month shd not be made to contribute towards medisave. On the contrary, govt shd top up medisave of seniors $500 a month as social security and ease more on monthly doles to seniors for them to be more self-sufficient and financially independent.

  20. Henry said

    Wow! Based on two encounters, our ministers can justify a policy … he must be in another dreamland …

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