Thanks to a Facebook posting from The Alternative View (TAV), we are reminded of the below “grand speech” of caring for the poor, made by Minister Chan Shun Sing during the GE2015 rally on 2 Sep 2015:
“Many think just because you give money you can solve the problem. No. If you have walked the ground and talked to community leaders, you’ll know better. They need care. They need concern. They don’t need people to make grand speeches.”
At the 2015 GE rally, Chan also asked residents to think about who really cared for them and their families – those who walked the streets quietly every day, and helped them solve their issues big and small – or someone (i.e, the opposition) who turns up every four years and says, “vote for us so we can go to Parliament to speak”.
Suicides among elderly hit record high
However, 3 years later, it was reported by Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) on Monday (30 Jul) that the number of elderly committing suicide hit a record high last year (2017).
According to SOS, the high prevalence of suicide mortality among the elderly is a worrying trend in Singapore. And based on interviews with the elderly, financial burden among them is one of the notable causes.
TNP interviewed Madam Hamidah Mohd, 69, who said that suicide is often discussed by those around her age. “I had a neighbour who said her life had no meaning because her children refused to visit her. She told me she did not have anyone left and saw little point in living when she did not even have enough money for food,” Mdm Hamidah disclosed.
Another person interviewed was Mr Yang Mu Yi, 65, a cobbler, who said that financial struggles are a problem. “For many elderly people who lack resources and cannot provide for themselves, it may seem better to go,” he said.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, a clinical psychologist and counsellor with 25 years’ experience, said the trend of seniors contemplating suicide is not new. “It has been going on for years. The problem is compounded with more and more elderly people now living on their own,” she said. “Some of them think that suicide is the best way to deal with these struggles without becoming a burden to their family.”
She added, “The elderly tend to have a lot of pride and some would rather die with their pride intact than seek help.”
So, it now appears that despite Chan’s “grand speech” promising to “care” for Singaporeans 3 years ago during GE2015, the number of elderly suicide hit a record high last year, with Mdm Hamidah ‘s neighbour lamenting that there is little point in living when she did not even have enough money for food.
TAV commented, “Now it seems that that is exactly what Chan has been doing as the situation for the elderly and the poor does not seem to have changed for the better while Chan continues to make nonsensical speeches like ‘placing tomorrow’s unemployed into tomorrow’s jobs’.”
In any case, the next GE will have to be held by 15 January 2021. It’s not known what new “grand speech” Chan would be making at the next GE rally this time. Can you guess?