Trisha Reloaded

Dedicated to Trisha, as always. Dedicated also to L, my source of inspiration, and the reason why I choose to see the bright side of teaching.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

2 hours that change me

I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time visiting a one-room HDB flat. I had agreed to help bring a few students to visit a few of these homes that the school had adopted as part of the CIP (Community Involvement Programme). This should be good, I thought.

I wasn’t prepared for this. The walls were dotted with black splotches of what we were told were the droppings of bed bugs. We were warned not to remove our shoes, lean on the walls or sit on the floor. Mr Y sat on a stool and seemed nonchalant about the infestation in his home. The mattress he slept on bore testimony to the nightly battles he had to endure. The bed sheet was clouded with blood stains. Mr Y used to be a coolie who carried sacks of rice. The bachelor now lives alone in his decrepit rental flat, his emaciated body racked with sickness, the money he earned in his younger days long gone to feed his parents’ opium addiction many years ago. He gets $260 from the welfare agency every month, of which about $100 goes into paying his rent and utilities. The remainder he has to magically stretch to cover his food and medical costs.

The bugs had spread from next door to a few flats on the 5th floor where Mr Y lived. You could see them flitting about on the wall, on the floor, among his clothes, even along the corridors. Nobody there could afford a professional pestbuster, and the town council wouldn’t do such favours anyway. So living with these parasites has become a fact of life. Residents living on the other floors talked about the 5th floor as if it was Purgatory and it didn’t seem an inappropriate description.

Then there was 92-year-old Mdm C – so small and wiry she couldn’t have weighed more than 35kg. She had a hole in her neck where her voice box had been removed, so she couldn’t talk. When she saw us, she simply gestured with her hands that she wanted to die. Looking at her forlorn looking home, who could blame her for feeling that way? The food in her kitchen had all gone bad so we gathered she hadn’t eaten for days, or perhaps she had been eating all the rotten stuffs. When you are sick and have to depend on the kindness of neighbours to help you buy even the simplest food, what other choice do you have? She has 2 daughters, one who visits her occasionally. Another, we heard, comes by and steals the NTUC vouchers that volunteers give to her. Is it any wonder Mdm C would rather die?

In all, we visited 7 homes, each one with its own sad story to tell. My heart is exceedingly disturbed by the scenes I saw today. On the one hand, we live in a country that’s boasting of having island-wide free internet access soon and building world-class integrated resorts and yet, in pockets of this land which worships success and one-upmanship shamelessly, there are the forgotten lot who live in homes with rotten food and bug-infested beds.

I thought that by visiting the poor, I would be helping to cheer them up somewhat. How naïve I was. How arrogant I was to think that a simple 20 minute visit can alleviate the misery of people who have to face squalor every single moment of their lives and where sleep offers no respite either from the reality of their wretchedness. I thought I was doing community service. But no, something was done to me. Today, I felt as if the earth beneath my feet had shifted. In the days that follow, I would still go on to live my life of considerable comfort, plan my holidays, do Christmas shopping and enjoy the trappings of prosperity that I have been blessed with. But I could no longer plead ignorance of the shadowy existence of Mr Y, Mdm C and all these unfortunate people who live just a stone’s throw away from me. I find myself asking Him, “Lord, what will You have me do now?”

Tonight, as I crawl between my nice clean sheets, I think of Mr Y and how long the night will be for him. I saw real, in-your-face poverty and human misery today and I’m at a loss as to how to respond. Nothing I can do or say will ever be enough. And yet, if we don’t do anything, what kind of human beings are we?

* * * * * * * * *

Juxtaposed among my anguished thoughts about Mr Y and Mdm C is the noisy ranting of an 18-year-old college kid with her “elite uncaring face”. And this is what I want to say.

There is no glory in being an elite. No honour in trumpeting one’s own success. For if not by a fortunate roll of the dice of life, any of us could end up like Mr Y or Mdm C. Any of us could be born into a family visited by sorrow upon sorrow, where circumstances work against you and fate tosses you around like sand, so that you can’t get out of the shit even if you want to. So for those of us in which life has been unbelievably kind to us, a good measure of gratitude and humility is called for. Survival of the fittest is the rule for the animal kingdom. Surely we are above the beasts? Surely we are meant to rise up higher? Instead of dashing to be the first, perhaps it is far nobler to slow down, and give a hand to the downtrodden, the unfortunate, the unskilled, the retrenched, the slower, the old, the sickly and the poor. When we can restore even a modicum of dignity to our fellow beings who have no hope, surely that makes us more human.


At 8:47 AM, Blogger sad man said...

Hi - I am a chicken. I still do not dare to visit them folks. I know it will pain me like it did to you. It breaks my heart too that our govt will wi-fi the whole island, but will not support the call to pay deserving 65 year olds a pension, using the income from our reserves (without having to dip into the reserves). Let us all continue to speak with a loud voice, and like Kitana said - we shall be heard!

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi trisha. was wondering if you could write down the address of the place that you visted..I want to visit it too..

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should mention who is the MP as well. I think PAP wards also have it bad - not just Potong Pasir and Hougang. Do write it down so that PAP knows who to help!!

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it reminds me of the letter written by Indranee Rajah to the ST. She and Mr Vasoo has been trying for years to get lifts for the poorest of the poor. And that is all that is done - letters written but so far, No Action, Talk Only (ok write letters only) (see Elite woman part 3) And What is Mr Mah Bow Tan doing? Setting up 2 IRs to bankrupt more Singaporeans. Priority? What makes more money for Singapore? IR or building lifts for the Poorest of the poor? Most singaporeans would prefer to keep their uncaring elitist face out of such problems, such homes and pretend they do not exist....

Trisha, I applaud you and your is oh so easy to just donate cash instead of time. But chin up - it can be a better with time.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its truly a sad story to be told and to be heard. It really puts into perspective on what is happening in our country.

In my opinion, people will always be selfish and uncaring. Given a choice, how many would willingly walk past a poverty-stricken area and be given a sharp dose of reality?

As one person, there is only so much we can do. What is truly needed is a concerted effort to bring such people the help they need. Let us hope this will come true in time.

As for the 'elite' girl, i hope that one day she'll be replaced by someone better than her. Then we shall see if she still trumpets on about being 'elite' and all that nonsense. -.-

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher."

-- Henry Van Dyke

At 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come from an 'elite school' background. While I know (in theory) of the existence of such conditions, I have never seen them before with my very own eyes, and quite frankly I am afraid to do so.

But that is beside the point. The point I would like to make is, wouldn't it be good if the 'elite schools' could have more CIP activities to such areas? I remember my compulsory CIP activities consisted of visiting old folks' homes and tutoring orphans.

While those had sad stories in them as well, I think the shock value is nowhere near what you'd experienced, and I think that the priviliged elite are probably the most in need of such a wake up call.

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Waverley said...

Your piece on the elites is very well-written. Can I have your permission to re-produce and reference that para on my blog?

At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the dystopian wastelands of older hdb estates serve as an impetus, not only for the government to revamp its antiquated social security system, but for fellow singaporeans to reflect upon the ungodly state some of their fellow citizens have to live in.

we abhor the government's authoritarian policies, but yearn for priviledges accorded in a welfare state. similarly, how many of us have taken the pro-active step to contribute to the community we live in, much less donate funds to the un-priviledged?

we have church groups organising relief missions overseas, their enthusiasm for psuedo-volunteerism masking the state of disrepair some hdb estates is in.

ultimately, both the government and society must play its part. the government can only do so much to channel funds, and encourage a reciprocative spirit in singaporeans. it remains up to us, steeped in our own hypocrism, to do something about it.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi totally agree and would like to have your permission to reprint this blog in mine too....peggy

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Leong Sze Hian said...

Mr Tan Jee Suan, a 46 year-old Singaporean odd-job labourer with two young children, committed suicide by jumping on to the MRT track at Chinese Garden station on October 18.
According to media reports, he had been receiving financial assistance from South-West Community Development Council of $120 a month from September 2003 to November 2004, $375 a month from November 2004 to June 2005, and was rejected twice last year and this year applying for financial assistance, because his household monthly income was $1,400. In February, he was advised to apply for the Pay-As-You-Use (PAYU) meter to pay for utilities, but he found it too complicated and gave up. He had a history of not having a steady job, and after being unemployed for the last four months, owed over $1,000 in utilities for more than four months, HDB payments, school fees for a year, etc. Of late, they were having difficulty putting three meals on the table, and were surviving mostly on instant noodles. When Mr Tan was found, he had only $16 in his wallet. His last act on the day he died was to tell his wife that he would find some money to give to her and gave nine dollars to his youngest son for the family's dinner and transport fares, and told him that he was going to work and asked him to look after his mother.
Despite being a person with a polio disability, his wife was working in a factory earning about $500 a month. She pays about $50 a month for her medical fees. Her husband had complained of body aches, but refused to seek medical treatment because he said he could not afford to. She did not even have the bus fare to go to see her husband’s body, and the policeman who informed her of her husband’s death gave her five dollars. They still have 15 years' left of their housing loan to settle and Mrs Tan said that she has to pay more than $300 a month from her CPF for the three-room flat...
So far, Singaporeans have donated about $500,000 to the family.
The utilities company in a letter to the media on October 25, said that it has "on many occasions, referred families in dire financial straits to the Community Development Council". Hence, Mr Tan lost his will to live, despite being referred by the utilities company to the CDC. I would like to suggest that schools can also send an alert when a student has not been able to pay school fees for say more than six months, so that no Singaporean will ever be driven to desperation again, without anyone knowing about their plight.
According to HDB’s annual report, it gave financial assistance to 28,386 flat owners for the financial year ended March, a drop of 26 per cent from the previous year. According to the Department of Statistics General Household Survey 2005, there were 113,646 households with monthly income below $1,500, and 106,384 households with no income from work – presumably most of which are retirees.
According to the article "Mortgage sales of HDB flats on the rise: But trend is to be expected as banks' portfolios mature, say industry watchers" by Siow Li Sen (Business Times, Oct 20), and a New Paper report on October 20, just four property auction companies have had increasing HDB bank loan foreclosures of about 38 flats a month (456 a year), which is an annual increase of about 690 per cent (456 divided by 190 divided by 3) over the 190 flats foreclosed in the first three years after bank loans started for HDB flats on January 1, 2003. All the banks offering HDB loans declined to reveal figures on their foreclosures. After three years and nine months, the default rate of about one per cent is quite high as there are already about 700 foreclosures out of a total of about 70,000 HDB flats with bank loans. On October 13, HDB announced a new procedure that from January 1 next year, those who want to apply for a housing loan will first need to obtain a loan eligibility letter before they can commit to buying a new flat. How many Singaporeans have to lose their homes and CPF, before we re-think the policy change of giving the first charge on property to banks?
Singapore Power’s profits increased by 53 per cent last year. SBS's profit after taxation rose 5.1 and 158.6 per cent, for 2005 and 2004 respectively. SMRT's profit after taxation has risen from 56.8 million in 2002 to 103.6 million in 2006. Now, before the expected increase in revenue and profits from the fares hike effective October 1, SMRT has reported a 13 per cent year-on-year rise in net profit to $31.5 million for the second quarter ended September 2006.
I would like to suggest that there be a review of whether and to what extent basic essentials like utilities and transport should continue to be profit-making when they are in essence monopolies?
Leong Sze Hian

At 7:10 AM, Blogger trisha said...

Waverly & Peggy,
Thanks for visiting my blog. You can certainly refer to my post in your blogs. If what I've written can stir people up into doing something for the less fortunate who live so near us, you have my full support!

Anonymous (who wishes to have the address of the flats I visited): plse email me at
I would like to know who you are before I give away the address. Alternatively, you can always visit any block of 1-room flats in Singapore. I'm sure the same story is repeated in many of these places.

Leong Sze Hian:
The information you've provided is very enlightening. Everytime the transport companies increase their fares and claim that the increase is "minimal", I can't help but think of families for whom even a "minimal increase" spells another burden on them. It's minimal only for people who don't have to take public transport.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a group of people whom we had been neglecting too. Very soon there will be indoor sport hall for the primary and secondary schools all around Singapore,why do we need to have such a facility? What about the handicapped lot? It seems like most of the handicapped school are very rundown.Why can't the govt spend some of the money on this group of people? Just because they are not the elite they don't deserve a better facility like the normal school student?

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trisha, saw your link in one of the comments on mrbrown's site. Your writings have been very inspirational and touching. My wife's a teacher too and I'll get her to read your blog. Lovely stuff.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are sick to the core of hearing the same old argument again and again from the PAP ministers and MPs that welfarism is a slippery road and it is vital not to encourage a "crutch mentality".

Barring the inevitable humane backlash against these arguments, and if we take a "mercenaric" and
"pragmatic" view of this issue (as our PAP ministers always wanted us to), let's take an example of why commercial banks offer credit cards and loans even though there are risks of bad debts to be written off.

The reason is that the bad debts constitute a minor and economically sustainable risk to the bank. They still profit immensely from the majority of productive contributing clients.

Now, let's look at singapore's socially disadvantaged and marginalized. Are they the majority in singapore? No. Similarly, we can look at these people as the "bad debts" of singapore society that for whatever reasons, fallen into that category. Could we as a first world developed economy not able to afford proper, dignified welfare for these people? Could we not as a nation do better than a commercial bank? Will this bankrupt mighty singapore? Will the majority of singaporeans suddenly opt to lose all their ambitions for a better life for themselves and their families just to receive this welfare? I don't think so.

Add on to the fact that Singapore, in an article by Eddie Lee recently, spends only 2% of our GDP on welfare, compare with 13% and over 25% in european countries. Is it that economically unsustainable to spend 10% on welfare? Is that so unreasonable? Or is this another one of the so-called "Asian Values" - exploitation and neglect of the poorer and disadvantaged members of our asian society? If this is so, then I do not want any of our much-vaulted "Asian Values". The ministers can keep it for their children.

As if this is not enough, we are neglecting our healthcare too. our esteemed minister Khaw Boon Wan, in his response to the figure that singapore similarly spends the least of all countries on health-care:

"Dr Phua Kai Hong, a health economist in NUS, has been in along-standing debate with the Ministry of Health overgovernment expenditure on health. Deriding the relativelymodest 3-4% of GDP spent on health, Dr Phua has pointedout the US spends 15% while the World Health Organisationrecommends developed countries set aside about 5%"

Imagine that. We are even performing worse than WHO standards.

Of course, in typical PAP forked tongue speak, it is not the case. Mr Khaw says hey this is because we are more "cost-efficient"! That's why 3-4% is sufficient!

Wonderful forked tongue argument. Considering that PAP Ministers' million dollar salaries are the world's highest. Well well well, Mr Khaw, how about PAP Ministers also being "cost-efficient"? Make do with a S$3K salary. Why not?

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad fact is the town councils and RCs have huge fixed deposits in the banks and none of this is used to help them

Like someone said altruism is not practised in SIA to help the rank and file to retain their jobs during the SARS crisis - the one who said it is mm lee.

So can we expect the govt to help...the words will be get out of my elite uncaring face...

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Trisha,
I have always wanted to explore this topic that you've written on and after reading your stirring entry, I would like to request for your permission to reproduce on my blog, for my personal keepsake and also to direct others to this local social problem.

We all know it exists, but just like anything, we need a little reminder once in a while to rid us of our ego-centric 'me-thinks'.

I will provide a link to your original article and blogsite.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Waverley said...

Many thanks!

At 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to be fair, regarding welfare comparisons with european countries, they usually have a tax rate which is double or triple of ours (or more).

still, i agree that there is more that can be done.

At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if one takes the tax rate into comparison, even a third of 25% is ~8% which means that european countries with a so-called lower tax rate like singapore would be spending over 8% on welfare.

Singapore spends 2%.

Fantastically finger fucking good.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger Jazz101 said...

enough said.

why don't we do something?

for one, get some fogging done to Mr Y's floor. and then, do something, i don't know what yet but something tangible, to poor old Mdm C. If she goes, it's becoz of willingness-to-die.

i am sure trisha can provide the necessary co-ordinates where any pecuniary assistance could be directed to.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger DK said...

"Nobody there could afford a professional pestbuster, and the town council wouldn’t do such favours anyway"

Its really sad to read this.

We could either come together, contribute money to employ a professional pestbuster or find the MP and ask them visit that block.

Something need to be done.

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Germs said...

Dear Mother Trisha,

my heart literally ached as i read yr entry. By some coincidence, i watched a docu from the French/German TV channel, Arte, on street children in Ulan Bator (Mongolia). Tears streamed down my cheeks as i saw their misery/sufferings.(The kids who rang my doorbell asking for Halloween Goodies must have been wondering why i was on the verge of sobbing away while handling out sweets).
Back to u entry: It is really a shame that things like this is happening in Singapore - a country touting its economic sucess. Where have the humanity factor dropped along this highway towards progress?? Perhaps the govt might be roused to take some action if some foreign missionary nuns will come to Singapore to help these people. What a laugh it would be to the Singapore image!

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally feels it in my bone that there are on a different agenda, whatever you say, post, blog or whatever will come to nought.
In any country, the lower 80% of population feeds the higher 20% thru blood sucking measures.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies for using comments.

Possible news on why Today editor was sacked:

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have asked around. Bed bugs problem happens when there is poor hygiene and sanitation. Fogging alone will not solve the problem of Mr Y and neighbours.

Practical steps:
1) Spring cleaning (that means to discard the bed, throw away things,laundry the clothes, etc)

2) Pest Control

3) Regular cleaning after that to make sure the bugs do not come back again. Volunteers to clean up the house if Mr Y is not able to do so.

Having said that, Mr Y and neighbours must agree to accepting these helps.

I have come across a similiar case as Mr Y. But the old person is not willing to accept help to clean up the house. Not sure whether it is pride or the unwillingness to allow "strangers" to go through their belongings, invading into their spaces.

So, we could contribute some money to engage a pest control company to do fogging but more importantly is to have a group of volunteers to clean up the houses of these elderly people who are either too old, weak or poor (to buy cleaning agents since they barely have enough to feed themselves)to do so themselves.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank goodness for the internet, if not the spore population will continue to be 'brainwashed' by our very own 146th ST.

your post struck in a raw nerve in my chord, and i will always remember what MM LEE once said,

"You go down New York, Broadway. You will see the beggars, people of the streets...Where are the beggars in Singapore? Show me."

do we really care about hosting a glitzy event like the IMF and proudly showing off to the rest of the world what an efficient country we are, or sending volunteers to rural areas of Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesiato to help correct cleft lips for free because the children there can't afford good medical treatment.and worse, having MPs that can do hip-hop.

do we really care?

it really puzzles me, when back in our own country, people are suffering and dying on a daily basis while our leaders and children are living in their ivory towers, totally loosing touch to the reality of life and telling us that it's the brutal truth, take it or leave it.


At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trisha, you have shown yourself to
be a caring compassionate person,
totally opposite in character to the brainless 18 year old RJC elite. If our society could have more people like you, perhaps such sad encounters like yours wouldn't happen so often.
How I wish our press and media could be more responsible and independent in hightlighting such shortcomings in govt policies, iso of carrying bootlicking and patronising articles for their political master.

At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may not be elitegirl, but frankly, you would have to feed them year after year, they are non economically productive, the best you could do is put them out of their misery (euthanasia), and then harvest their organs.

everybody wins!

At 5:58 AM, Blogger tbh said...

i hope that last comment is a joke..
you cannot be economically productive forever. you might be a normal working class or an ex-president scholar holding high ranks.. if one day, an accident or disease strikes and render you immobile, aren't you not economically productive? we cannot simply be treated as machines. the old man was once a coolie, working for the economy too..
hope that the govt wakes up and see from the ground up and not formulate polices top down..

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous fighting fit said...

Mr Tan JS's case was very sad. And there are families like his out there. Not all go to desperate measures, but they face equally dire situations.

And for those who mentioned schools spending indoor halls, yes, that is one issue I feel principals and others in MOE don't know enough about. How many families are actually having to tighten belts due to lower pay or lost jobs?

Come on, only some lucky people get pay fat raises. Who thinks the statistics reflect real life accurately? Who and how many are contacted about those household stats? So back to schools, they keep pushing things like fund raisers for aircon halls, classrooms, better facilities, dance studios, music rooms, libraries, etc. They also have extra programs that will involve parents paying cash, tho some may use Edusave. Let's think about it: It is a face issue. Parents don't want their kids to feel inferior to the others. They will spend less on themselves so their kids can do or get the extras. As parents, it is their love that will make them even give up a meal, if that's what it takes, so the child can eat. You think the parents will go to school and say, "Sorry, we cannot afford this. Can you give financial aid?" I doubt it. They will find ways to fork it out. If the amount is too great, some parents have no choice but to explain to the child that they really cannot afford it. And those moments can be tough.

But my point is this, schools cannot assume everything is rosy and hunky dory out there. The reality is there are structural shifts in employment in this economy. It happens in every economy. Some will face financial difficulties for longer than others.

Many of us don't know what it is like. What it is like to have to eat white bread for a meal and drink water. No money for recess. No new shoes until the old ones are torn and unbearably uncomfortable. Having to wear school uniforms until they are so worn and thin you can see skin. Why? Like I said above, many parents will be extremely frugal like hell so their kids don't lose too much face in front of friends by having to wear torn shoes and old uniforms. My parents did it. God knows, I'm ready to do it too, without much mulling, if I have to.

So educators! Teach them by all means! But not by all means possible. Let us care about those who aren't well off. Leave no child behind does not mean trying to shove everybody forward.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger bleach said...

u mean u didn't know there ARE people who live in dire straits like this in Singapore?

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


God bless you and your family, and those who are suffering in poverty in this country. Thank you for bringing the plight of the poor into light.

I pray and hope that a visible shift towards real democracy will bring about suitable political change in this country, and the issue of poverty and the widening income gap will be appropriately addressed, and subsequently resolved.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous advocate said...

Little has been mentioned in the Comments section about Mdm C's daughters. Trisha tells us that one daughter comes by occasionally, and the other steals the NTUC vouchers given by volunteers to the mother.

What is the bigger tragedy? That the social services could not help her enough, or that she has a daughter who stole her handouts, and may well steal anything else we give, be it groceries or cash?

More welfare is only part of the solution. How do we deal with children who steal from their elderly parents?

And how many Singaporeans will willingly give, be it in taxation or donation, if they fear that their charity will be misappropriated?

At 9:14 PM, Blogger timo said...

i don't have any agenda or ideas to bring forward. i just thank God for your heart, and your sharing, lest we fall into hedonistic myopia.

there are bigger realities than vivocity, IMF and elitist cultures.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger timo said...

by the way, may i post ur article on my blog? =) i hope my church youths would be able to learn from ur sharing

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank u...Peggy

At 1:46 AM, Blogger rook said...

Trisha, perhaps you could e-mail the blog content to MCYS or some similar authority? Along with the address of the venue you visited. At least they'd have some leads to take some action.

At 2:42 AM, Blogger eastcoastlife said...

Dear Trisha,
Thank you for writing this entry.

I myself do not understand why our government needs to spend so much money on - buildings that are called the Wonders of Singapore, indoor stadiums for 300 schools, scholarships for foreign students, useless multi-million dollars electronic road signs .....etc and yet put in so many conditions when the needy wants to apply for public assistance.

I only believe in myself and do not expect anything from our present government. We have to fend for ourselves.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Stephen Yeo said...

I saw pictures of a small girl
Crying, livin in the lost world
The men fight for dear god, she don't care
Cuz there's nothin left to share

I watched TV about a sick girl
She was only nine
She'll be gone soon
When and where she's going god will know
She doesn't want the sun to go

Don't you know that we care?
Keep the faith that hope is here
Deep in my heart I ask myself
Do we really, really care?

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I know whats ur solutions to all these problems instead of normal PAP bashing & criticisng

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this must be a rich teacher nvr been to a 1 rm flat hahahhahaahah must be brought up with a silver spoon in mouth went to uni then NIE grad nw wk as teacher. Mere criticisms but no solid ideas as to how to improve this lot of pple. typical opp supporter.

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself asking Him, “Lord, what will You have me do now?”

So what was His response? And what do you intend to do next, now that you are "changed"?

At 4:48 PM, Blogger trisha said...

Timo: No problem!

Anonymous: Do you have any suggestions to offer instead of hitting people below the belt?
I have started to do something already. When things are more firmed up and I'm ready to move into action, perhaps you can provide me your contact info and I'll rope you in to help? I need volunteers to help clean Mr Y's house on a regular basis. Then we can all say we're not just sitting on our arses and blaming PAP for everything?

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These people are the pioneers and they had a share in building the country. But now they are forgotten.

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous zao said...

that is indeed a sad story, very much like the one i read in the papers some time back. the fact that they have not tried to killed themselves showed us how strong their human spirit, the will to survive is.(or it maybe due to some superstition of sort) but what can we as volunteers do to help such people when they are abandoned by majority of the population and the government? a government which trumpets on meritocracy indirectly trumpets elitism and rich-poor divide. you just witnessed the shadowy end of the poor, the other extreme however isnt too hard to notice.

so while the majority of these people continue to support and uphold the current government, we would not see the day when the needy poor of the nation be helped. when they issue the singapore share to everyone, they should just abolish the whole stupid idea and give it wholly to the poor. at least it doesnt seem that they are trying to buy out the population to reelect them as fools.

At 1:13 AM, Blogger blucat said...

Hi Trisha, I'm not sure if both people you mentioned have been receiving aid of any kind but they should be referred to the nearest Family Service Centre - FSC hotline 1800 - 8380100.

They should be able to connect them with the appropriate services, and not just for financial purposes. Bedbugs issue, I believe there are a number of clubs/societies run by students who are willing to help clean up the house?

If they are about 60 and above, they can be referred to SAGE for specialised services.

I hope the people who are in contact with them and in the know of their details can help them asap. Thanks.

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So after this tirade of words on a blog, you just feel bad and sad and that's it?

Typical Singaporeans. Talk and say "oh poor thing" and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Don't blame the government; I don't fancy them either but having worked around the region I can say that AT LEAST there are 1 room flats compared to places where people bath by bulls/cows urine, sleep on the streets, eat from scraps and corruption is rampant.

If you want to do something, do it rather than blogging your sadness and doing farkall.

And for that matter, YES, I am doing something for these improvished people. My acts are not on the papers, I don't get money or friends from reaching out to the poor and destitute, I don't have time to blog and this is the first time I actually commented on a blog, any blog in my entire life. What matters more to me is that my actions and that of other volunteers actually do something for others rather than just being hollow words for internet voyeurs to comment and say "oh how poor things".

If you guys really want to do something, go volunteer REGULARLY in some of the various volunteer bodies in Singapore rather than wasting your time blogging or reading other people's blogs. I seen so many "I wanna help" people that volunteer for 2 hours in an ENTIRE year and have the balls to claim they are volunteers. The more time you spend on yourself (going out, blogging, etc) than others is proof of how hypocrytical you can be.

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My observation seems to be that 'doing something for the poor' has become a sacred cow. I think it is great to have our eyes opened to the plight of the less fortunate and be more purposeful in our giving and writing (to MPs to ask for action), but it is another matter altogether to worship this noble notion that 'you need to do something for the poor'. Not everyone who ask the question 'so what solutions do you have' belong to the unsympathetic elite. I think we must, as many have said before, go beyond congratulating ourselves for showing compassion and feeling sad about the state of affairs. I like to suggest that the alternative we have is perhaps a more socialist state, as opposed to one that runs on economic principles. We must see the link between IMF and all the big publicity for Singapore as efforts to grow the pie, afterwhich there can be more to share. How the sharing is done is another matter, but the two should not be mixed up. We can go down the path of taking immediate reserves to fix all the problems without solving the heart of the issues. What we will have will be a ever shrinking pie. Maybe if everyone is under the poverty line then we will all be happy because there is no one in a relatively better off position? (Of course, I don't mean this, but hypothetical this may be what we are asking for, I think).

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At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Sally D said...

A touching post, we never realize how good we have it until we experience something like this, we see these people on the streets while we are shopping, or shuffling by while we hang out our washing in the rotary washing lines, and we never really give them a second thought. We take for granted cleanliness, cars, fresh food and modern electronics, we wear nice clothes while others starve and only just exist, it makes me feel sad.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger squawks said...

Thank you. And coming from a Singaporean living in India (for) now.

At 12:19 AM, Anonymous lanoit. said...

All I could think when I read your post is how they can spend and lose BILLIONS in Temasek Holdings, and yet REFUSE to help all these people.

I am comfortably middle class, and it always wrenches my heart to see disadvantaged people... I wish I could help, but what can I do? I am only one person. But I swear, if I ever get rich... I'm going to help. I will.

At 12:43 AM, Blogger MsBrightside said...

If your students would be keen to start a fundraiser to hire exterminators, does the job for bedbugs very well. I would gladly contribute. Bedbugs are the agents of living hell.

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Delakroix said...

Quote from lanoit:

"All I could think when I read your post is how they can spend and lose BILLIONS in Temasek Holdings, and yet REFUSE to help all these people.

I am comfortably middle class, and it always wrenches my heart to see disadvantaged people... I wish I could help, but what can I do? I am only one person. But I swear, if I ever get rich... I'm going to help. I will."

Delakroix: If you ever get rich, you are going to help? When will you deem yourself to be rich enough? And if everyone thinks that way, that there will be one more richer person who should be helping these poor elderly, who will eventually help? Wouldn't it all just fall on Bill Gates then?

I think we should stop pointing fingers, shifting blame, bitching about the government, etc, and do REAL WORK. Stop sitting at your kopitiam and complain (like uncles), and start working. Like join a volunteer group.

It gets very lame when Temasek losing billions become a blame basket for every injustice that happens in Singapore.


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