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Tan Chuan Jin: Elderly who work do not want ‘assistance’ from government

Posted by temasektimes on July 8, 2012

Singapore elderly who are still working in their twilight years do not want assistance from the government and Singaporeans should show some respect to them, declared Minister for National Development Tan Chuan Jin on his Facebook.

Mr Tan had earlier shared his encounter with elderly workers – a cleaner and a vagrant picking cardboards for a living on his Facebook which sparked an intense debate among netizens.

In the face of mounting criticisms from some netizens that the government is not doing enough to care for the nation-builders, Mr Tan said that some of the elderly he met don’t want assistance while they are still able to work:

“I know that many feel very sorry for old folks who are working. And I do believe some of them do labour under trying conditions…no kids or kids not supporting them…not enough savings. I have met some when I chat with them and even amongst my residents. Funny enough, for these who do work because they have no choice, there is a fierce streak of pride and self respect in them. At least for a number I have met. They don’t want assistance while they can still work.”

Mr Tan added that many Singapore elderly are working because they prefer to stay ‘active’ and urged Singaporeans not to feel sorry for them:

“A number have actually shared that they work because they prefer to stay active. Question is should we feel sorry for them because it seems pitiful to us? Or should we respect them?”

When challenged by a netizen that the government should be doing more to help them, Mr Tan countered with the usual PAP rhetoric that Singaporeans should be doing their ‘part’ instead of whining and complaining:

“Truth is, all of us can reach out. Or we can just gripe. I know what I prefer to do. I can’t change the negativity that comes with each and any posting or action…..Imagine this, if everyone of us, each day, decide to reach out to just one person in need. Society changes. Just pay it forward. Pay and pay :)”

[Source: Tan Chuan Jin’s Facebook]

Unlike other First World countries, Singapore does not have a comprehensive social safety net for its elderly population, the majority of whom have to depend on their meagre CPF savings which have already been used to pay for their over-priced HDB flats for their golden years, resulting in many having to continue working to support themselves.


Related articles:

Tan Chuan Jin on his encounter with elderly cleaners and vagrants


20 Responses to “Tan Chuan Jin: Elderly who work do not want ‘assistance’ from government”

  1. W.S. Yum said

    You are shameless in trying to abdicate your responsibility to provide a social safety net for the less fortunate to the common citizenry. What we individually volunteer to do with our time and money for the less fortunate is in the realm of charity and not politics. There are enough bad preachers preaching the wrong gospel without you joining the ranks.

  2. Lim said

    “Mr Tan countered with the usual PAP rhetoric that Singaporeans should be doing their ‘part’ instead of whining and complaining” After Bukit Brown I seem to have come to the conclusion that all crows are inherently black despite desperate cosmetical attempts to lighten their colour. Just narrow the income gap and increase assistance to these poor old folks instead of articulating noble high faluting words like fierce pride, self-respect and Sporeans doing their part. We have. Have you? LIke donating 20% of your monthly salary to these poor folks. Then I will respect you.

  3. papsmear said

    Year mark for promotion liao. One step closer to high level. Gong Jiao Whey.

  4. Julie Ong said

    Mr Tan Chuan Jin, this sounds like a cop out to me.
    A system can be put in place whereby senior citizens can apply for a supplement/subsidy which can be credited straight into their bank account.
    Pride and respect does not come into play. If they are that proud they can always continue the way they do. If however they need/want the supplementary cash support it is there for their taking.
    I sincerely hope that your answer is not just political spin but you are genuinely unaware of the option/s available.

    • Thinker said

      Agree with you, Julie. The elderly should at least have ‘an option’ with the govt’s support. Those who choose to continue to work of course may do so. I do know of elderly who prefer to earn a living because they just can’t live the life of a retiree even though they have the financial ability to do so. That being said, are we neglecting the others who can’t work? What are the statistics like? Mr. Tan cannot make comments like these based on a few elderly he encounters on the streets. We need figures and data.

  5. What Do You Think ?? said

    “A number have actually shared that they work because they prefer to stay active. Question is should we feel sorry for them because it seems pitiful to us? Or should we respect them?” Tan Chuan Jin.

    Do these old folks work to stay “active” or to stay “alive” ??

    What do you think, TCJ ??

  6. whatever... said

    What does he want us to do by reaching out? Give everyone a pat on the shoulder or a hug? Should it be 1:1 or 1 rich man: 100 poor men? His suggestion borders on the line of being immature.

  7. Alex Xela said

    Its because PAP make them that way to pay and pay thats why they scared if they do not work they will suffer. Old people they dont like to burden their kids cos they know they are just like them have to pay and pay to PAP. Its not they dont want to ask for help from the PAP but they feel like they are a beggars in their own country to ask for help. And hey feel they lost their pride to ask for help after serving their countries for their whole life but at the end of the days they have to beg for their own life. It is the responsibility of the PAP to take care of their own peoples after what they have done for this country. Mr Tan Chuan Jin you forget it is us the people who feed you not the PAP. You know most PRC i spoke to say they are scared to be a citizens here cos they are shock to see a lot of old folks still working in this country when they are old where in their countries with billions populations their old folks are considered retired and well taken care by their governments but not Singapore. Here we have to pay and pay till we die.

  8. Why don’t ask me and my friends instead. if he can really be of asistance than I would honestly say we Singaporeans have a sincere and good Minister. Please do not pick in advance who to question and followed by the media well in advance of what to write.

  9. bb said

    Minister you are very thk skin-you have miliion dollar salary-wait until we vote you out then you know how being jobless.
    Other countries like Australia the ministers are not paid so high as you -and the country has resources not like sg it does not have- yet you do not have compassion for the elderly -shame on you.

    Everytime the gov does something wrong it uses words to try to convince ppl they are not at fault-eg SMRT, LTA, HDB,

    • Julie Ong said

      Bb, it’s good to let off steam. I know the feeling. I understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Does the government, particularly the highly paid ministers understand the struggles of the ordinary man?? I am sure they don’t going by their indifference and double speak.
      The reality is that we can’t do anything about it save continuing to speak out loud and agitating for change.
      Let’s all be patient and stick together. It’s a fight that we must not and cannot lose. Trust me.
      We need a New Singapore Order which basically enshrines the rights and protection of every Singapore citizen. It will definitely give a Fair Go for all as well as ensure Freedom of Speech. We have to be patient. Nothing concrete or substantial we can do now under this heartless, greedy, lazy and incompetent administration.
      Never lose heart. Like the saying goes, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
      It takes time, but we can be rid of this bad government and put in place a truly honourable, strong, wise and caring one. This is the challenge and opportunity confronting us. Daunting it is, but not impossible.
      Let’s work hard to achieve it, my fellow Singaporeans.

  10. Tichy said

    So you reach out to someone who is affected by your bad policy, and they become grateful to you, suddenly you become their hero, plus can eat free egg tart. Do you realise this is going nowhere? What about the other people minus one that is affected by your policy??? Reaching out is not the solution, making bad policies right is.

  11. citutt said

    Blinded by money…cant even see the actual reasons…a human being with heart will not ask coz we already know why these old folks have to work in their twilight age…and ah chuang is only asking but not helping…so just shuddup..

  12. joker said

    God is watching

  13. Angry Stone said

    Have you talk to those that are not working? Old pple who is sick? and those pple who are supporting their old? … Did they all said they do not need assistance?

  14. Anson Be said

    After reading this, I respect the elderly for not being held ransom to PAP’s help and i pity our Minister of State for not knowing how this shows that the economic growth model is not functioning well at all…

  15. cultist said

    So how do u “reach out” to them if u claim that they dont want financial assistance?? stand there and respect and let them do their thang? Or have a emotional chats with them for a while (as though u care) and then zoom off home feeling proud that your job for the day is done?

    This is sad Mr Tan – knowing that what they need is at least, money to feed them for the week and yet keeping it away from them despite knowing your ministerial position and capabilities to assist them… and Im not refering to the hobos who dont do anything along the streets – just the few that youve met.

    If that is what u mean by reaching out then quit the fake motivational styled bullcrap. really. dont act hero. its disgusting

  16. Charity Supporter said

    I agree with TCJ in this. While we give assistance to those whom we thought need it, have we ever considered if they want it? No doubt for those who can give will still give to help the needy, but we can do it in a more dignified manner. I have done 3 years of BB sharity gift box event and very interestingly, direct giving can be an insult to the needy people if you are observant enough. Looking embarassed, they sign over donations collected by BB while some will not hesitate to grab whatever’s available without feeling sorry for themselves. It is the EQ we possess that helps us distinguish the difference amongst the receipients. However, we must not let this aspect affect the desire to help the needy, even when they refuse to accept our assistance.

    Indeed, TCJ made a very provocative thought.

  17. Henry said

    Hey man, wake up! Which dreamland did you get the feedback from?

  18. beijinginblue said

    Perhaps if the “assistance” is renamed as pension (well deserved IHMO), the older folks may be more than happy to receive it? Or maybe our minsters will take a cue from these older folks and give up their pension and be happy to work in minimum wage jobs like our happy older folks?

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