Friday, October 20, 2006

S$1000 for a life! A tragedy....

My father-in-law alerted me to this news & handed me a sum of money to donate to the grieving family.

On the morning of 18th October, Tan Jee Suan gave his 13-year-old younger son S$9 to buy chicken rice for dinner for his disabled mother, 15-year-old brother & he. For a long time, the family has survived only on instant noodles daily.

At 6.15 pm, Tan told his younger son that he had found a job & was going to work then. He would be back the following morning. Before Tan left, he told his son, "You have to take good care of your mother, and look after yourselves well."

At 10.15 pm that night, Tan made the final decision of his life, he ended his brief 46 years on earth by jumping into the path of an approaching train. The train crashed into him, dragging him under the carriages......

When the men from Civil Defence rescued him, he was not a 'complete' man. The train has severed him into 3 parts. Tan's life ended the moment he leapt.

A mortician later said that Tan required more than 160 stitches to stitch his dismembered body parts together.

45 minutes later, the police knocked on the door of a 3-room HDB flat in Boon Lay Place. A disabled Lim Sian Hua opened the door. The police informed her that her husband had died, she must go to the mortuary the following morning to identify her husband's body. But Lim didn't even have a cent on her for the bus fare to the mortuary. A policeman took pity on her & gave her S$5 for the bus fare.

Lim is only 43 years old, disabled & with 2 children in school. She was working 12 hours a day for a miserly sum of S$500 a month. How is she going to face the bleak future? Helplessly she clutched the S$5 bill tightly in her fist. There was no more tears, because all her tears has dried up.

Tan was at his wit's end because the money he owed various billing organisations was due on 19th. Where was he going to find money?

He was unemployed for a long time & his financial woes was becoming unbearable. He was deeply worried and he was getting desperate. But in front of his disabled wife, he appeared strong & he told her he would give her a sum of money to pay the bills, including the school fees he owed for a year. All these bills add up to more than S$1000. Where is the money going to come from?

Tan is gone. He could have asked for assistance. But then, did he know he is eligible for public assistance? Was he aware of his rights? The Residents' Committee is just at the next block of flats. Did he know he could ask his MP for help?

It is so heart-rending.

It's so typical for the relevant authorities to be defensive when we trace the tragedy to them. It has always been a 'mending the broken fence after the sheep has died' mentality. When are they ever going to face their shortcomings? When is the wayang going to stop & focus on the immediate sufferings of the ordinary people?

It is also incredible because it happened in Singapore. It shouldn't have. Our country is so flushed with money, it can spend hundreds of millions on art theaters, indoor stadiums, government buildings....etc. It boasts of numerous public assistance schemes, yet a citizen has to commit suicide because he couldn't pay bills amounting toS$1000. What is wrong with our system? Is there a place in the hearts of our government for the ordinary citizens who has fallen behind?


  1. Thanks for visiting our site babasiga about Fiji. I'll check out your blog stories when I have more time. Singapore - well, I've never been there but my daughter-in-law went to a medical conference there and loved the place.
    Hey, that's a sad story you tell.

  2. This is happening everywhere: money going into the wrong channels. It's worse in my country because we have to support the MALAYS... (if you know what I mean). :)

  3. Yes, the html codes in blogger aren't friendly! I see your side bar dropped to the bottom of your page. You have a lot of extras on your blog that could be causing this and it takes awhile for your blog to load with the extra stuff. I had to let go of some of the extras and keep just a few things on my side bar that I really wanted.

  4. Wendy : Thanks for dropping by. Hope you could come to Singapore one day, and do contact me!

    Amie: Hi! I just feel that for such a thing to be happening in Singapore, it is so upsetting. Our govt cannot take care of its own citizens & yet offers to take care of so many so called 'foreign talents'. chei....

    babs : Thanks for your advice. I would have to let go of some of my extras too.