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The video of the elderly couple whom wecalled the Lims (not their real name) has generated a tremendousamount of attention, attracting more than 15,000 views in a day sinceit was posted.$CUT$
It has evoked strong emotions amongSingaporeans, most expressing shock that such an elderly andfrail couple could undergo such hardship just to seekmedical help.
Indeed, the video was so heart-wrenching that some cannot (or refuse to) accept that this is the reality in Singapore, arguing, as a few commentators on this website have, that this is an isolated case.
If we hadn’t recorded their plight on video, people would say that we made it up. Even then, some have suggested that the event wasstaged to gain sympathy. Others questioned why the cameramanvideo-taped the incident rather than help the couple.
Without the video, we could not have brought indisputable evidence about the cruel reality of the PAP system to Singaporeans and raise awareness about the need for reform.
In any event, members of the SDP’s Community ServicesUnit visited the couple this morning. Mdm Lim immediately expressed her gratitude to thecameraman for helping her and her husband home the day before.
“If our brother here didn’t help us,” Mdm Lim said, pointing to the cameraman who recorded the incident, “wewould have fallen down. He was a complete stranger and was kindenough to help us home.”
Mr Lim did not want to get into a taxieven though the videographer repeatedly offered to get one and payfor it. He seemed nervous about accepting help and only wantedsupport from his wife.
Then thecameraman offered to carry or piggy-back Mr Lim home. Still, the elderly man declined. In the end, our videographer could only walk with thecouple and prop the two of them up. Close to their home, a kindshopkeeper offered a wheelchair and the cameraman wheeled Mr Limhome.
Mdm Lim told the SDP this morning thatshe had brought her husband to Tan Tock Seng hospital just two daysbefore and had to pay two bills that amounted to more than $200.
Then, according to her, they were toldthat they had to go to the polyclinic. After paying another bill atthe polyclinic, she did said she did not have enough money fortransport home.
The SDP Community Services Unit willwrite to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and ask that the hospital charges forMr Lim be waived.
The root of the problem is this: Why isan elderly couple made to go through such an ordeal, both physicallyand financially, just to seek medical treatment. The current systemfails on so many fronts:
One, it bars the elderly couple fromusing their CPF (or Medisave) and they are made to pay cash forconsultation and medication even though they clearly cannot affordit.
Two, they have to travel to thehospital and polyclinic which not only burdens them with additionaltransport costs but is also a drain on them physically and mentally.Why is our healthcare system not better integrated so that ourelderly can be treated at one location?
Three, why is the CPF board stillholding on to their savings even though they are already in theirtwilight years and are desperately in need of cash for their dailyexpenses?
Four, why is our country’s socialprogramme not helping our elderly folks, leaving them instead to fendfor themselves?
Five, why is so much money spent onneighbourhood RCs (which essentially function as the PAP’s grassrootsbodies) and nothing on social work units that help to identify andprovide support for people like the Lims?
These are policies that Singaporeansmust pay attention to and if we really want to help our elderly poor(there are many more Lims across Singapore whom we don’t know about),we must not only engage in charity work but also political work tochange such uncaring PAP policies.
In the meantime, the Lims clearly needour help. Please contact us here if you wish to assist and we willcoordinate the effort to provide relief for the couple. Thank you.