Tribunal for the maintenance of parents
The Tribunal for the maintenance of parents allows parents to file for a Maintenance Order against their children should they refuse to support them financially and such a problem could not be resolved within the family. This ensures that the elderly are taken care of in their twilight years.
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In the book Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, Lee Kuan Yew explained his rationale for not making Singapore a welfare state. Take an example like Britian (Pretty famous one which I learnt in social studies), an over-reliance on the state not only puts a strain on the government's available resources, but undermines motivation to work and increases taxes across the board. Moreover, it is not a practical system given Singapore's ageing population. Hence, children take on the responsibility instead.
In Singapore's conservative society, 'filial piety' are 2 extremely strong words. There exists this cycle of parents clothing and feeding their children during their youth and when the child grows up and enters the workforce, its their turn. However, not all children see it this way. Take the famous murder case of Chua Bian Neo in 2000, whom was stabbed to death by her older brother Chua Bian Ann immediately after a hearing at the Tribunal in full view of the public and IN FRONT OF THE HELPLESS FATHER AS WELL. Bian Neo had taken her brother to court over his refusal to support their 89 year old wheelchair bound father and they had engaged in a series of bitter quarrels. Moreover, as of 2013, thousands of children had been taken to tribunal and were forced to pay for their parents' maintenance.
No doubt, in a state without a safety net, I feel that this is indeed a brilliant piece of legislation and organisation. However, what saddens me is the need for such a measure to even exist. This shows the ugly side of many Singaporean children who bite the hand that feeds them. The different cases i came across are horrific and which I can never imagine doing to my Mum and Dad.
However, such a legislation by itself is inadequate. Looking from another perspective, take the case of children who support their parents. Take the recently concluded case of Mdm Chia, whom fought with her children over the rights of her late husband's HDB flat. The very fact that mother and children had to fight over a large block of concrete illustrates the fact that in many cases, children may be simply putting up with their elderly parents with ulterior motives of greed. Moreover, in a society that emphasises on 'saving face', many parents may not actually come forward because of pride, and hence current numbers may actually be lesser than it actually is.