Thursday, 23 July 2015

Elder Abuse: Police, MSF probe video of elderly woman being abused

Neighbours say her family often mistreat her; case puts spotlight on elderly abuse in Singapore
By Jessica Lim, Consumer Correspondent, The Straits Times, 22 Jul 2015

The police and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) are investigating a video showing an older woman being slapped in the face by a younger woman.

MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has also pledged to follow up and make sure that the victim is protected.

The incident, filmed covertly by a neighbour and posted on Facebook on Monday night, has highlighted the issue of elderly abuse here. The MSF said there are around 200 reports of elderly abuse a year.

The Vulnerable Adults Act to be introduced by the year end will offer protection. The law will give social workers and other professionals the powers to enter the home of a suspected victim to assess the situation and move him to safety if necessary.

The video clip of the incident at the doorstep of a flat in a Lower Delta Road block had been viewed more than half a million times yesterday.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said a woman from the flat was taken conscious to Singapore General Hospital late on Monday night but gave no further details.

When The Straits Times visited the unit yesterday, a note was posted outside by someone called "Siti". The note said that Siti and her mother Kamisah had moved out and were staying at a friend's house because they and her father Khamis owed people "a lot of money". Nobody answered the door.

According to Mr D.V. Singh, 39, who lives next door, Madam Kamisah is 58 and jobless, while Siti, 25, used to work for a fast-food chain. Mr Khamis, he said, is a cleaner and moved out four months ago.

Other neighbours told The Straits Times yesterday that they often see the older woman being physically abused, and that her husband and daughter were responsible.

Mr Samat S. said that two weeks earlier, his wife had seen the older woman falling over after getting out of a taxi. "The daughter slapped and kicked her as she lay on the ground," said the bus driver.

Another neighbour, housewife Jacquelin Low, 48, said she saw regular abuse over at least the past year. "The mother would be sweeping or washing the floor and the daughter would stand next to her and suddenly start shouting. She would slap the mother," she said. "Last time, she (the mother) had a lot of hair and looked pretty sturdy. Now, she looks so weak and her hair has all dropped off."

Ms Low said she also heard the mother shout "tolong, tolong" (Malay for help) almost nightly, but did not want to interfere.

Mr Singh said he often heard banging on the wall and shouts coming from the unit. "The husband would come back from work around 10pm and scold his wife with their door wide open," he claimed, adding that, sometimes, she would be hit with shoes and chairs. "I have seen him take a broom and whack his wife's head. She would be crying and screaming that she would not do anything wrong again."

Asked why he did not inform the authorities, he said: "I dare not interfere in domestic affairs."

The video was filmed and posted by Mr Mohammad Juani, 25, known as "ApohTecky Numero". The limousine driver told The Straits Times he posted it as he "could not bear seeing the auntie like that any more" after six months of almost daily abuse. He also made a police report.

Urging the public to report any such incidents, Minister Tan said: "We know that we have altercations in families and we want to respect the families' space but I think we do need to raise awareness and to step in when we need to."

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event in Chai Chee yesterday.

Mr Tan had also written on Facebook that the ministry will follow up and "make sure that the elderly lady is protected".

Dr Lily Neo, MP for the area (Tanjong Pagar GRC), urged residents to look out and care for one another. She said: "Sometimes, when families do something in the privacy of their home, we can't see. If no one tells us, we won't know."

Additional reporting by Derek Wong

Before anything, I would like to apologise if this video or my post may hurt or offend anyone. This video is...
Posted by ApohTecky Numero on Monday, July 20, 2015

Elderly abuse at Lower Delta: Eye-witness says elderly woman taken to hospital with a bandaged head, younger woman taken into custody by police.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, July 20, 2015

Some of you have shared a video showing an elderly woman being hit by a younger lady. We are looking into it. Please be assured that the elderly woman's safety is our priority. Thank you.
Posted by MSF Singapore on Monday, July 20, 2015

Just got back from MPS. My colleagues contacted me about this video which I believe many of you have seen. Whatever the...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday, July 20, 2015

I was on my way home after MPS just now. Some of you and a few of my activists have highlighted to me on a video that...
Posted by Lily Neo on Monday, July 20, 2015

My officers have visited her. Hope you understand that we aren't able to discuss details in public. But we are looking out for her well being. Thank you to so many for your concerns and well wishes for her.
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#ICYMI Man who posted video of elderly being slapped: I could not bear seeing the auntie like that.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More seniors reporting cases of abuse: Welfare centres
Welfare centres say physical violence remains the most common form of abuse, but more elderly people are also falling prey to financial abuse, with their family trying to get them to surrender their savings.
By Faris Mokhtar, Channel NewsAsia, 23 Jul 2015

More seniors are reporting cases of abuse, according to welfare centres who deal specifically with family violence. They said physical violence remains the most common form of abuse, but more elderly people are also falling prey to financial abuse, with their family trying to get them to surrender their savings.

On Monday (Jul 20), a Facebook user "ApohTecky Numero" had posted a video online that showed an elderly woman being hit by a younger lady at Block 48 Lower Delta Road. Police later confirmed that a report had been lodged. "Preliminary investigations revealed that a 25-year-old female Singaporean had allegedly assaulted her 58-year-old mother on Jul 20," they stated. The 25-year-old is helping police with their investigations.

Ms Tan Ching Yee, 45, oversees TRANS SAFE Centre, a voluntary welfare organisation in Bedok and one of three family violence specialist centres in Singapore. She has seen many cases of elderly abuse in her 20-year career, but one which took place three to four years ago stood out.

"When we went to the home, we found that he was actually found lying on the trash bag, very thin, wearing diapers and totally grossly neglected. We had to send him to the hospital,” said Ms Tan.

Most cases of elderly abuse by family members are referred to the centres by healthcare institutions such as hospitals and polyclinics, and the courts.

TRANS SAFE Centre sees around 80 such cases annually, and around 40 cases have been reported this year. The most common form of abuse involves physical violence, followed by psychological abuse, neglect and financial abuse, such as getting the seniors to hand over their savings. Their impact over the long term can be devastating, leading to a sense of helplessness, isolation and depression.

With growing awareness of what constitutes abuse and of avenues to seek help, more seniors are reporting such incidents. TRANS SAFE Centre said that between 2010 and 2014, the figure rose from 7 to 17 per cent, among those aged 60 to 64.


Care Corner Project StART - another centre that deals with family violence - has also noticed this trend, and it said that this group is also vulnerable to financial abuse as they tend to be better-off.

The centre sees 80 cases of elderly abuse each year and half involve financial abuse.

Said Ms Agnes Chia, group director for family and community services at Care Corner Project StART: “We do see their adult children coming in to coerce them to pass on even the deed of the HDB flat to them and coerce them to pass their savings to them. And tactics of abusing them physically would be employed at times to coerce them to surrender their lifelong savings.”

Social workers dealing with cases of elderly abuse said the introduction of the Vulnerable Adults Act by the end of the year would be timely. It would give them the powers to enter the homes of elderly people suspected of being abused.

Currently, family members may prevent them from getting access to these seniors.

"But we need to recognise that a law is only a law. It is after that, what happens? So, we can't assume that the Vulnerable Adults Act can resolve the problem overnight. Looking at the whole process of working towards getting family members to acknowledge that things can be better and things do not have to be resolved using violence. Ultimately, that is still the aim,” said Ms Tan.

Social workers said there is one key challenge that the public faces when it comes to reporting incidents of family violence - distinguishing between whether it is a family dispute or a case of abuse.

Still, they said that more are stepping up to alert them of such cases.

Abuse of woman: Neighbour charged with abetting abuse
He allegedly told woman's daughter to feed her faeces and urine, in twist to slapping incident caught on video
By Olivia Ho, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

What began with a video showing a frail-looking woman seemingly being slapped by her daughter took a shocking twist yesterday with allegations that the older woman had been fed human excrement.

This was revealed in court when their next-door neighbour, Darwinder Singh Sukhdev Singh, 39, was charged with abetting the daughter in feeding faeces and urine to her mother, Madam Kamisah Burel, 58.

Speaking in broken English, the unemployed man said he had told Ms Siti Nur Redha Khamis, 25, to feed her mother faeces only one time, on July 1 at 10.30pm.

He then said Ms Siti continued to do it regularly.

"I only planned one time to give the mother shit, but she gave every day," he told the court yesterday.

Woman abused by daughter on video: Neighbour Darwinder Singh is accused of abetting Siti Nur Redha Khamis in feeding her...
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, July 24, 2015

He claimed that Ms Siti had been out of work for eight months, and that he had tried to support her.

"I pawned my jewellery.

"I sold my handphone and laptop for her. She has accused me of a lot of things."

Darwinder also claimed that he and his mother have medical problems and are getting help from the Community Development Council.

He added: "My mother (has) got no one other than me."

Police said that Ms Siti is currently assisting them with investigations, and could not comment on whether she will be charged.

Her mother remains at Singapore General Hospital.

The hospital declined to reveal her condition, citing patient confidentiality.

After being charged, Darwinder was taken to the Tanglin Police Division, where he will be remanded for a week to help police conduct investigations into other possible offences, which a police prosecutor said could have taken place over a long period of time.

The case came under the spotlight on Monday when another neighbour, 25-year-old Mohammad Juani, posted a video on Facebook of Madam Kamisah seemingly being slapped by Ms Siti outside their Lower Delta Road flat .

Mr Juani told The Straits Times earlier: "I couldn't bear to see the pain that the old auntie suffered.

"She also needs to be treated like a human being."

The New Paper (TNP) also published an interview with Darwinder, who provided "secret" pictures of Madam Kamisah being allegedly abused by Ms Siti in their flat.

The photos - which looked posed - showed the woman being hit with brooms, having her hair pulled and being stepped on.

In the TNP report, Darwinder claimed to have taken the pictures in secret out of concern for Madam Kamisah's welfare.

When The Straits Times visited his flat, his mother, Madam Diah Kaur, was distraught to learn that he had been charged.

The 63-year-old, who said her husband had left her when Darwinder was still young, said: "I'm so worried that I have not makan (eaten in Malay) for the last two days."

Madam Kaur, who was unkempt and appeared distracted during the interview, had also been unable to take her medication without her son's help, as she had forgotten which pills to take.

She showed this reporter two plastic bags full of hundreds of pills, for diseases such as heart problems and diabetes.

She claimed that she had seen Madam Kamisah being fed excrement from a container - "the kind you put porridge in" - on several occasions. She also said it had been Ms Siti's idea to take posed photos of the alleged abuse.

She believes Ms Siti had been in love with her son for the past year and wanted to marry him.

"She would come over to our house, eat our food, write L-O-V-E on her hand and show him."

Neighbours said they had often seen Darwinder and Ms Siti going out together, sometimes even with their mothers.

But they were unclear about the relationship between the pair.

Driver Alex Low, 50, said the two would go out together "four to five times a week and come back with a lot of shopping bags".

He added that Darwinder would go to Ms Siti's flat at night and there would be loud arguments.

Mr Low recalled: "They would quarrel a minimum of five to six times a week.

"Up and down the corridor, everyone could hear.

"I'm afraid I don't know what they were shouting about as they were speaking in Malay."

Darwinder will appear in court next Friday.

If convicted, he faces up to seven years in jail, a fine, caning or any combination of the above.

Madam Kaur said she wants to get her son a lawyer but does not know how to go about it.

She broke down in tears twice during the interview.

"I have to do something but I don't know what. I don't want to live without him."

Fighting elder abuse

The video of an elderly woman being slapped by a woman said to be her daughter went viral a few days ago, putting the issue of elder abuse in the spotlight. Should the laws be beefed up to protect the vulnerable elderly? Should bystanders step up? And what's the role of community agencies? Three writers give their takes.
By Radha Basu, Senior Correspondent, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

For months, neighbours heard screams from a thin, frail woman who looks much older than her 58 years. Some said they saw her beaten by her daughter or husband.

But until Mr Mohamed Juani - a neighbour - secretly filmed and uploaded a video of one such abuse incident on Facebook on Monday evening, no one really spoke up. And, crucially, no one reported the matter to the authorities.

Once the video went viral, some neighbours told reporters they saw her being slapped and kicked. Others saw her hair being pulled. Yet others saw her being berated and beaten with brooms.

The shroud of silence that surrounds abuse cases may shock some, but comes as no surprise to those at the front lines of the battle against elder abuse.

Trans Safe Centre, Pave and Care Corner Project Start provide specialised community-based support and services for people affected by family violence.

This includes older folk who are scolded, beaten, defrauded or denied access to others by people they love, most frequently their own flesh and blood.

While there are some family, friends and neighbours who do speak out, social workers in all three agencies have seen cases where others knew of the abuse but did nothing to help.

Pave, for instance, helped a 74-year-old woman who was often kicked, slapped and hit on the head by her son-in-law. She would shout for help. Once, when he was hitting her and she screamed for help through the kitchen window, a small crowd gathered downstairs to gape.

But no one offered to help or report the matter.

Eventually, a visiting grandson was shocked by her condition and reported the matter to the authorities.

Similarly, in other cases reported to the Trans Safe Centre and Project Start by family members or police, neighbours acknowledged seeing the violence, but did nothing about it. Some did not intervene for fear of being hurt or harassed by the perpetrator who, after all, lived just a door or two away. Some feared making the violence worse for the victim. Others felt being a "kaypoh" - or nosy - neighbour was too "paiseh" (embarrassing).

Most of all, social workers say, many bystanders feel outsiders should not interfere in domestic disputes - even when violence is involved.

It is unclear exactly how many people harbour such views today, but a 2007 study of more than 1,000 people by the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports - now the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) - showed that half believed family violence was a private matter, down from nearly six in 10 in 2003.

But this is a totally wrong view.

The law does not stop at the threshold to private homes. If it did, killings at home wouldn't be murder, and criminals could flee the law simply by returning home to shut the door.

More eyes and ears needed to report cases to centres

Neighbours and bystanders need to know that domestic violence is a crime, the same way violence to a co-worker in the office, or a stranger on the street, is a crime.

People should "dare to care", said Ms Kristine Lam, a social worker at Project Start.

"Whether it occurs in public or in the privacy of someone's home, violence is violence."

Secrecy increases the risk of violence, said Pave executive director Sudha Nair. Although survivors may be reluctant to report the perpetrator, they do want the violence to stop, she added.

"Violence is not and cannot be solely a family affair.

Reporting it must be a community responsibility."

In some countries like the United States, it is mandatory for individuals to report abuse to law enforcement or social service agencies or a regulatory body. But even there, for every case of elder abuse that is reported, experts estimate that 23 go unreported.

Singapore does not have such a provision to mandate reporting.

Experts say that among domestic violence victims, it is elder abuse that is most likely to be undetected.

Teachers or counsellors at school can spot child victims of violence. An angry wife subject to prolonged abuse is more likely to report her husband than a dialect-speaking mother who is assaulted by her son.

In fact, because of denial, dependence or unconditional love, many elderly victims cover up signs of abuse and protect perpetrators.

As Trans Safe Centre director Tan Ching Yee told me when I was working on a series of stories on elder abuse late last year, "you can divorce an abusive husband, but you can never divorce your own child".

If the victim doesn't report abuse, the community can step in.

What can neighbours, concerned friends and relations do?

If a victim's life is in danger , call 999. Short of that, it is best to report concerns to specialist agencies like Trans Safe Centre, Pave and Project Start.

Staff at these centres are trained to negotiate the tricky terrain of fractured family relationships with both tact and tenacity. They are seen to be less threatening than the police.

They can not only protect the victim, but can also work on the perpetrator's issues, through mandatory counselling, for example.

Yet public awareness of these help agencies appears to be low.

Studies in the past have shown that when asked who they would approach to report family violence, three in four mentioned the police.

An informative MSF video from 2012 on the tell-tale signs of elder abuse which directed people to approach the specialist agencies has been viewed fewer than 900 times on YouTube.

The agencies themselves have stepped up public education efforts. During a community outreach session on Tuesday morning, hours after Mr Mohamed Juani uploaded his video, social workers from Trans Safe Centre asked a group of Bedok residents what they would do if they witnessed or suspected elder abuse.

Most said they would call the police, although some voiced doubts about how effective that would be.

After learning about the centre's work, most vowed to call social workers should they witness violence, said Ms Tan.

Protecting the powerless from their own flesh and blood is tough work. The experts need as many eyes, ears and helping hands as they can get. It isn't about being nosy. It's about being responsible.

Make reporting of elder abuse mandatory?
By Tan Chong Huat, Published The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

Earlier this week, a video of an alleged assault of an elderly woman outside her own home attracted intense public interest and prompted immediate action by the authorities.

Regrettably, it appeared that several neighbours had witnessed a sustained pattern of previous assaults on the elderly woman but no one took action until one of them decided to film a video of the incident and posted it on Facebook.

This incident highlights the issue of whether the law provides sufficient redress for victims of elder abuse. If not, can and should more be done?

Elder abuse can take many forms, not all of which is addressed by the law. The criminal law offers some protection to victims of elder abuse. For instance, certain acts of physical or financial abuse may be offences under the Penal Code. In this incident, the police classified the case as voluntarily causing hurt, which is a criminal offence under the Penal Code.

Psychological abuse may also be caught under the Protection from Harassment Act.

For these forms of elder abuse, victims are likely to have recourse to civil remedies as well. But beyond such harm, the present law does not address more subtle forms of elder abuse such as abandonment or neglect.

The proposed Vulnerable Adults Act, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year, will go some way to fill the lacuna. Although details of this new law are still sketchy, it will address less tangible forms of elder abuse, such as self-neglect cases where the elderly are unable to care for themselves.

One difficult issue, though, is whether the Vulnerable Adults Act should impose mandatory elder abuse reporting. Such mandatory reporting laws are prevalent in America, but different approaches have been taken as to who is required to report, which types of elder abuse must be reported and the sanctions for failing to report. The challenge in drawing up such laws is in deciding where to strike the right balance between protection from abuse and intrusion into personal affairs.

As this incident illustrates, a broad reporting law that imposes an obligation on anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe that an elderly person has been neglected or abused may help to address the issue of under-reporting of suspected elder abuse cases.

However, such a law may be difficult to implement. For example, it is not always easy for an outsider to determine when elder abuse occurs.

In most cases, clear physical abuse of an elderly person would be supported by medical evidence. But in cases of psychological or financial abuse, an outsider would need to be fairly involved in the elderly person's affairs in order to have a reasonable basis to believe that such abuse had occurred.

Attaching sanctions for non- reporting will therefore be onerous if the reporting law covers all forms of elder abuse.

Moreover, the force of law may not necessarily lead to more reports of elder abuse. Neighbours witnessing elder abuse may leave it to one another to take the first step to make the report, a phenomenon popularly known as the bystander effect. The cultural deference towards non-interference in other people's family affairs is also difficult to overcome.

If a wide mandatory reporting law is socially desirable, it should be tailored to specific types of elder abuse which outsiders can reasonably detect. Such a law should also be accompanied by stepping up public education on elder abuse.

Alternatively, a more realistic starting point may be to impose, as in Wisconsin in the United States, mandatory reporting obligations on healthcare and other professionals who come into contact with the elderly in the course of their work.

Although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of mandatory reporting laws, Singapore should begin a serious discussion on this issue which affects us all.

The writer is managing partner, RHTLaw TaylorWessing LLP

Power to end domestic abuse lies with all of us
By Kokila Annamalai, Published The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

Responsibility for family violence lies with abusers, but the power to end abuse lies with all of us. When we suspect abuse, but tolerate it as "none of our business", our silence - as neighbours, friends or relatives - disempowers victims.

If someone has unexplained injuries, appears withdrawn, anxious, upset or angry, or avoids friends and family and becomes difficult to contact, it is reasonable to ask if these are symptoms of physical or emotional abuse.

Victims themselves may not seek help due to fear, helplessness and fatalism, or a lack of access to information or opportunity, especially if they are controlled by the perpetrator. We can help provide the support they need to protect themselves. Knowing that someone cares enough to ask about abuse can make victims feel less isolated. If you think someone is being abused, talk to them in private, but don't push them if they are unwilling to share.

Listen to victims without judgment. Assure them that you believe them and remind them that abuse is never their fault. Discuss available options, including counselling, hotline numbers, family violence specialist centres, family service centres (FSCs), nearby hospitals and police posts, and personal protection orders (PPOs). You can accompany them as they access services.

If they are reluctant to act, accept that decision while remaining available to them. Encourage them to collect evidence in case they change their mind. Photographs of bruises, hospital records and text messages can help build a case.

If you feel the victim is in danger, voice your concern and suggest that they develop a safety plan. Help them pack an emergency bag to keep at your place, list phone numbers they can call, think of safe places they can go to and advise them to keep some money on hand at all times.

It is not advisable to intervene personally with the perpetrator unless it is safe for you and the victim, and the victim wants you to do so. Don't suggest quick solutions without thinking through potential retaliation. It is also dangerous to suggest that a victim should work harder on their relationship with the abuser, or to assume things will get better. Abuse rarely stops without intervention, and might escalate. Couple-counselling in abuse situations can be dangerous. Instead, encourage each party to try separate counselling.

If you suspect domestic violence in the homes of your neighbours, relatives or friends, you can also call the police. Police will investigate bystander reports. Your eyewitness statement can count as evidence.

The police may recommend that the victim apply for a PPO or link them to an FSC. In some cases, they can arrest the perpetrator.

In deciding whether to engage the police, we should put aside our sense that domestic violence is a "private affair", as no one should be left in danger without assistance.

When threats are immediate, the police are the main agency which can respond rapidly and authoritatively to de-escalate the situation and ensure safety.

Yet many rightly sense that police reports may not resolve the longer-term problem. The police do not always take follow-up action. The victim may not wish to see their family member in trouble with the law, especially if they are materially dependent on the abuser. And the perpetrator may well escalate the abuse in the future. For this reason, it is helpful to check in on the victim and offer direct assistance even after making a report as police investigation alone may not resolve the situation.

The state can also help improve the effectiveness of police response by taking a more consistently supportive approach. Negative experiences with police insensitivity can discourage victims and bystanders from reporting.

I once reported a case involving a death threat and evidence that the perpetrator had caused the victim to bleed. In the investigation, both parties denied the abuse. The police officer later told me off for "interfering in their business".

This may reflect the officer's misunderstanding of domestic violence situations and why victims might resist intervention. Regular, victim-oriented specialist training for all responding officers can help police respond in a more constructive way.

Victims might also feel more comfortable if social workers were present during police interviews.

More broadly speaking, questions of social support for older people and children, and material support for victims of spousal violence, need to be resolved on a societal level, so that victims are in a position to make the right choices for themselves.

We have worked with victims who endured abusive relationships for years primarily because they had no alternative housing, means of livelihood or support systems from their community.

Domestic or elder abuse is for all of us to solve. No one should have to sacrifice their well-being to maintain "family privacy".

The writer is the campaign manager for the We Can!, a community-based movement initiated by Aware to end gender-based violence in Singapore.

Public trial of family harsh: Tan Chuan-Jin
Public's role in highlighting video appreciated but some comments inappropriate: Minister
By Jessica Lim and Tiffany Fumiko Tay, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

The public's role in highlighting a video showing a woman slapping her mother is appreciated but the "public trial" of the woman's family has been harsh, said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Singapore's 20th social service office in Yishun, he described the public furore sparked by the video as a "public jury or trial of the individuals concerned".

The video, which was filmed and posted by a neighbour, Mr Mohammad Juani, has been viewed more than 790,000 times since Monday. It has also received hundreds of comments, many of which were severely critical of the daughter.

Mr Tan, speaking to reporters, said: "Truth be told, because of the intense public scrutiny, and we understand why, there is a lot of pressure on the family. It has been very stressful, and it's not easy."

But what is circulated on social media is not always accurate. "Sometimes, details may be half-accurate or inaccurate," he added.

It is "not appropriate for various members of the public to chip in and criticise one particular party, or canvass for particular actions, or call for people to visit them", he said. "It will be helpful if some of the scrutiny is mitigated to some degree," added Mr Tan. He urged people to focus instead on highlighting other areas of concern in their communities.

A viral video showing a woman slapping her mother has resulted in a harsh "public trial" of the woman's family, said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, July 25, 2015

The case, which involves a 25-year-old woman and her 58-year-old mother, is being investigated by the police as well as the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

"When appropriate and suitable, we will make sure there will be updates for the public, who remain concerned about this," said Mr Tan. Yesterday, he also urged members of the public to help identify anyone who may need help as "there are Singaporeans in troubled circumstances that we don't always see".

"I think it is important that we don't underestimate how important our roles as citizens are," he said, adding that social service offices help the public play their part.

The new social service office, located at Block 746, Yishun Street 72, will cater to more than 1,800 residents in the area. It will work with community partners to coordinate social services and identify those who may need help.

The target is to have 24 social service offices by the end of the year. This will give at least 95 per cent of needy residents access to social services within 2km of where they live and work. Sembawang residents, for instance, can expect one to open in their area next month. The new office in Yishun will also run a pilot project for the needy to get free provisions, starting with 10 individuals and families from September.

Elder abuse? Seek proper help, avoid 'public trial'

The Lower Delta Road incident of a woman caught on video slapping her mother is unfortunate, and Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has highlighted the equally unfortunate "public trial" of the individuals concerned ("Public trial of family harsh: Tan Chuan-Jin"; last Saturday).

In January, several concerned residents in my neighbourhood informed me that an elderly woman had been sleeping in the void deck of a block for several nights. As a member of the residents' committee (RC), I went to investigate. Older members of the RC and neighbours knew about her, and the police had been involved, more than seven years ago, to get her back home to sleep.

There were many theories about what caused her not to want to sleep at home, including abuse by her daughter and boyfriend.

Like what Mr Tan said regarding the Lower Delta Road case: "Sometimes, details may be half-accurate or inaccurate."

In the case of the elderly woman in my neighbourhood, the appropriate thing to do was to seek professional help, and we did. With the help of the RC adviser, a social worker was assigned to her case.

The social worker met the woman's daughter and her boyfriend. She also spoke to the concerned neighbours who have been feeding the elderly woman.

The social worker was able to ascertain the facts of the case and, based on the information, she was able to get the appropriate social service agencies to help a Singaporean in troubled circumstances. The social worker was also able to give professional advice to the neighbours on how best to help the elderly woman to eventually return home to sleep.

We are still working on this case but we managed to avoid a "public trial" of the individuals concerned as that would have put further stress on the already-fractured family relationships.

Liu Fook Thim
ST Forum, 27 Jul 2015

Do share these links. Say no to family violence and help the victims, and even perpetrators if they are having problems....
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday, July 20, 2015

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