82-year-old elderly spends a year living at HDB void deck bench; netizens offer assistance

82-year-old elderly spends a year living at HDB void deck bench; netizens offer assistance

Millennials of SG (MOSG), a Singapore social media site, recently interviewed an 82-year-old elderly who had to live on a bench at an HDB flat’s void deck for a year.

Yip Woon Cheong, who had separated from his wife, claimed that his three children never visited him, leaving him solely dependent on the government’s financial assistance of around S$100 a month.

Mr Yip shared that he was brought up by his adoptive mother and had no siblings.

Despite his circumstances, Mr Yip showed the host his bank account book, with almost over S$1000 in savings left, which he explained was due to receiving a three-month grant at a time. Sometimes social workers would bring him lunch.

Glorious past as People’s Action Party member

He recalled his glorious past of joining the People’s Action Party when he was young, helping to build the roads, and working as a plumber for the Public Utilities Board.

“I worked until age 60, they didn’t allow me to work any longer, ” Mr Yip said he had been depending on his CPF after he used up all the fund.

“I’ve never begged anyone for money, but sometimes people support me.”

Despite his situation, Mr Yip showed no resentment towards his children for not helping him, saying that he had raised them and now they are grown.

“I can’t do anything if they don’t want to help me. I’ve looked past, letting bygones be bygones.”

Mr Yip said he has nothing to regret, “What regret I could possibly have at this age? Everyone has their own problems, just surviving day by day. Now I’m already 80 years old, I don’t even know how many years left for me. I can drop dead any time. ”

Mr Yip will be moving into a rental flat

Mr Yip appears to have been staying at the void deck of Block 26 Sin Ming. This HDB rental flat, which has been home to many residents for decades, stands alone in a quiet industrial area.

The block was selected to undergo a relocation exercise, requiring over 300 residents, including more than 130 low-income elderly residents, to move out by September of this year.

These flats are within the Marymount SMC, which is represented by PAP Member of Parliament Gan Siow Huang.

The comment section of MOSG’s YouTube post noted that Mr Yip would be moving into a rental flat in a few weeks with the help of some individuals and organizations who donated necessities and appliances to him.

On Sunday, 9 April, MOSG provided an update noting that additional information was received from volunteers in the constituency who have worked with Mr Yip over the years.

MOSG said volunteers and the MP secured a rental unit for Mr Yip since late last year. However, due to personal reasons, he prefers to sleep at the void deck.

It is unknown if Mr Yip is allocated a rental flat where he has to stay with a stranger.

Netizens offer help

Numerous netizens have expressed their concerns about the elderly’s well-being in the MOSG’s Facebook post comment section. Some have offered their help and expressed their wish to reach out to the elderly.

Several comments expressed sympathy for the elderly due to his children’s lack of care, while others admired his impressive past as a member of Singapore’s Pioneer Generation, in which the elderly even possessed a PAP membership card signed by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself!

Additionally, some netizens called on the ruling party to take care of their senior party member and provide him with a decent place to stay.

One netizen expressed their willingness to help and asked for information on how to locate the elderly so they could provide him with some necessities:

A kind-hearted netizen offered their support and expressed their desire to donate cooked food on a weekly or monthly basis:

‘Please wear masks when visit Uncle Yip’

A netizen named Ah Joe, who seems to be close to Mr Yip, mentioned that Mr Yip does not own a cellphone, and it is difficult to get in touch with him during the day as he often walks to other blocks.

The netizen reminded that people to avoid filming Mr Yip and visitors should wear masks when seeing him due to his old age.

Mr Yip to have a further reduction in rent

A netizen questioned why Mr Yip couldn’t rent a 1-room HDB flat for $60 per month.

Another netizen explained that it’s not easy to get a flat from HDB in reality, especially if one has children. HDB may refer the applicant to an organization that will try to place them temporarily in a halfway home with strangers.

Ah Joe, added that Mr Yip will have a further reduction in rent and will only pay $26 per month for his new place.

“There is some personal reason why he is not in his flat and sleeping down there, ” Ah Joe added.

Called on the PAP to help their senior party member

While some comments called on the PAP to help their senior party member, noting that Mr Yip joined the PAP and worked at the Public Utilities Board to help build Singapore.

“but now he has to fend for himself. That’s just not right. We get to enjoy Singapore now from his efforts but he’s still suffering, ” a netizen commented.

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