Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Chin Swee's elderly homeless

My Paper, Monday, December 28, 2015, Page A6, Top Stories
From http://epaper.mypaper.sg/epc/en/2015-12-28/
Source Website: http://mypaper.sg/top-stories/chin-swees-elderly-homeless-20151228
By Mohammed Hariz, The New Paper, Published on Dec 28, 2015


HARD BENCH FOR A BED
PHOTO: HARD BENCH FOR A BED: Mr Ang, who is homeless, sleeping on a bench in the open in Chin Swee Road HDB estate. Others were also seen sleeping on the floor at a staircase landing. Some say they live here as they have friends in the area. Others say it is because they can get free meals at the Buddhist Lodge.
PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
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http://mypaper.sg/top-stories/chin-swees-elderly-homeless-20151228



Last month, a 51-year-old homeless man was found dead at a Chin Swee Road HDB staircase landing. CHAI HUNG YIN and SEOW YUN RONG visit the area to learn more about the homeless there.

IT WAS Christmas Eve, and the Chin Swee Road HDB estate was abuzz with activity.

People shuffled in and out of the estate, children laughed at the playground while the adults sat at a nearby coffee shop.

By 9pm, the number dwindled to around 21 people sitting and chatting next to a Sheng Siong supermarket.

Some stole naps in the open to escape the heat.

Come 11pm, the merry estate changed its face.

A few elderly people, some with belongings in trash bags, moved to occupy the benches, resting their weary bodies.



A few elderly people, some with belongings in trash bags, moved to occupy the benches, resting their weary bodies. These are the lonely people of Chin Swee Road.
PHOTO: A few elderly people, some with belongings in trash bags, moved to occupy the benches, resting their weary bodies. These are the lonely people of Chin Swee Road.
Dr Neo, Jalan Besar GRC MP and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), says the homeless situation at Chin Swee is "manageable and the homeless do not plague the whole precinct or create any inconvenience to our residents". Both Dr Neo and the spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development said there are some homeless who chose to refuse aid and prefer to be self-reliant.
Posted by Mohammed Hariz, Published on 28 December 2015
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http://mypaper.sg/top-stories/mp-very-few-cases-and-some-refuse-help-20151228



These are the lonely people of Chin Swee Road.

The same scene played out on the few occasions The New Paper on Sunday team visited the estate from last month.

Some of the elderly claimed to be homeless but refused help, preferring to be on their own, even hiding from the authorities.

On Dec 9, TNPS met Mr Ang at the open space near Block 52, Chin Swee Road, around midnight.



Mr Ang at the open space near Block 52, Chin Swee Road, around midnight. Clad in a white shirt, knee-length shorts and sandals, he was sound asleep on a bench.
PHOTO: Mr Ang at the open space near Block 52, Chin Swee Road, around midnight. Clad in a white shirt, knee-length shorts and sandals, he was sound asleep on a bench. Next to him was a black bag stuffed to the brim with his belongings.
PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6-f_gobS-mw/VoH-ay8NVoI/AAAAAAAAioA/nUwujtQSfQA/s1600/Mr.%2BAng%252C%2Bhomeless.jpg
My Paper, Monday, December 28, 2015, Page A6, Top Stories



Clad in a white shirt, knee-length shorts and sandals, he was sound asleep on a bench. Next to him was a black bag stuffed to the brim with his belongings.

The 72-year-old man, who was there on the four occasions TNPS visited the estate, says he has been homeless for more than 10 years.

But he was not the only homeless person there.

Two men, who described themselves as brothers, have been calling a secluded staircase landing their home for the past one year.



Two men, who described themselves as brothers, have been calling a secluded staircase landing their home for the past one year.
PHOTO: Two men, who described themselves as brothers, have been calling a secluded staircase landing their home for the past one year.
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/sites/default/files/styles/w641/public/original_images/Dec2015/7_2.jpg?itok=WLvsX2uZ
http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



Another elderly man, regularly seen sleeping outside a row of shops near Block 52, says he has a flat to return to but prefers being outside.

Stall owners of a nearby coffee shop and supermarket staff say they are familiar with Chin Swee's lonely people.

Seafood restaurant co-owner Maxwell Zhu, 29, says: "Sometimes when I get off work between 3am and 4am, I can see people sleeping around the coffee shop or on the corridor."

Sukeman Tohfat, 67, a food stall owner at the Block 34, Pearl's Hill Road coffee shop, says: "They never change their clothes, so they smell. Sometimes they pull along a trolley of things."



These are the lonely people of Chin Swee Road.
PHOTO: These are the lonely people of Chin Swee Road.
Sukeman Tohfat, 67, a food stall owner at the Block 34, Pearl's Hill Road coffee shop, says: "They never change their clothes, so they smell. Sometimes they pull along a trolley of things."
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



BEGGING FOR FOOD
One particular man, who has been seen in the area for about three years, left an impression on Mr Sukeman.

"Sometimes, he eats leftover food on the table," he says.

"Other times, he comes looking for food. When he is hungry, he will beg for food and sometimes I will give him some instead of throwing away the unsold food.

"They are so pitiful. I'd rather give them my unsold food than to see them scavenge in the rubbish bin."

Regulars at the coffee shop would sometimes offer beer and buy food for the man who occasionally sleeps at the bus stop and washes up at the coffee shop's toilet, adds Mr Sukeman.

Drink stall worker Ooi Hau Lin, who is in his 30s, says he has often seen homeless people resting at the coffee shop at Block 34, Pearl's Hill Road, where he works the night shift.

He says in Mandarin: "We do not chase them away. They do not cause disturbance.

"They sleep with their faces down on the table. They don't line the chairs to sleep on. If they did that, we would chase them away because it would affect our business."



They sleep with their faces down on the table.
PHOTO: "They sleep with their faces down on the table. They don't line the chairs to sleep on. If they did that, we would chase them away because it would affect our business."
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



He has seen two to three such people who lug around their belongings wherever they go.

"They usually pull around a trolley or bags full of things," says Mr Ooi.

"There is a 90 per cent chance that they are homeless. If they lived nearby, they would not carry their things around.

"They have never come and beg for food. If they did, we would have to ask them to go away."



They lug around their belongings wherever they go.
PHOTO: They lug around their belongings wherever they go. "They usually pull around a trolley or bags full of things," says Mr Ooi.
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



A sign saying there is a job vacancy for a cleaner at the coffee shop was seen on the drink stall counter.

Mr Ooi adds: "They don't come looking for jobs either. If they were willing to work, they would surely have a home."

Why Chin Swee Road estate?



The 72-year-old man, Mr. Ang, who was there on the four occasions TNPS visited the estate, says he has been homeless for more than 10 years.
PHOTO: The 72-year-old man, Mr. Ang, who was there on the four occasions TNPS visited the estate, says he has been homeless for more than 10 years.
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



Some say they have friends in the area. Others say it is because they can get free meals at the nearby Singapore Buddhist Lodge.

Few are willing to leave the area even if it means sleeping out in the open.

This is their home after all.

By Mohammed Hariz, The New Paper, Published on Dec 28, 2015


On Dec 9, TNPS met Mr Ang at the open space near Block 52, Chin Swee Road, around midnight.
PHOTO: On Dec 9, TNPS met Mr Ang at the open space near Block 52, Chin Swee Road, around midnight. He could be one of those not willing to leave the area even if it means sleeping out in the open. He could have friends in the area. This is his home after all.
Photo Source: The New Paper, The lonely people of Chin Swee Road
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http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/homeless-chin-swee-road



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