Who Really Outsourced Filial Piety?

Tin Pei Ling, MP for Marine Parade GRC, said that some children don't want their parents to stay with them and "outsource the entire care of their elderly parents to the Government, because they know the Government will help them". [Source]

With more Singaporeans waking up to the fact that the majority of us will never meet the CPF Minimum Sum, the unhappiness index seems to have gone on a bull run with no signs of correction in sight. CPF will be one of the key issues in the next General Election.

Not surprisingly, articles like the above are popping up like mushrooms. This one highlights a story of a hapless old man who has no one to rely on but the government after his children abandoned him. It's a subtle remainder to Singaporeans why there is a need to withhold most of our CPF money, so that we will only be half dead and the government can wash their hands off us.

Don't get me wrong. I do not believe we should rely on the government for our own survival. This is a personal responsibility every Singapore should take upon him or herself. We have to be prudent in spending the money we exchange our time with because there is a limit to our effective working lifespan. The savings in the bank is just an illusion of wealth for the average Singaporean. In reality, this money is just the future money that you will not be able to earn due to either poor health or the disability to remain employed due to whatsoever reasons. With the exception of an earlier than expected death or the ability of amass a level of wealth far beyond the average during your younger days, we will need to use most of our lifetime savings in our sunset years. These are the rules of the game. So who is to blame if we leave our fate in the hands of the government? They would send you to JB, Batam, Christmas Island or wherever they deem fit. It's always going to be a take it or leave it situation. If you don't want to be treated as rotting meat, take responsibility today.

I despise articles like that. It may be a fact that the government will not need to help the Singapore elderly if their children take care of them. But Tin Pei Ling made it sound as if every Singaporean adult is provided an employment environment where he or she is able to fully take care of their old parents financially. How about elderly without children? Our fertility rate today is the lowest in the world at 0.8 children per woman. So it is obvious in a few decades time, there will be a lot more elderly with only a child to support them or no one at all. The question here is, why are Singaporeans unable to support themselves through their old age? Are Singaporeans so imprudent in their spending or do we have a sustainability issue in our economic model in the first place? It cannot be any less obvious. Though most Singaporeans are lowly taxed on their income, with ever increasing high costs of living, expensive housing, high medical cost and low wages, most of us will find it difficult to cope when we get old and have to be forced to sell up our HDB leasing agreements.

What does filial piety means to you? It means devotion, loyalty, duty and respect. As such piety should be mutual. How so then, does filial piety gets into the equation? When we are young, able and full of vigor to contribute to our motherland, we are regarded as good citizens, filial Singaporean sons and daughters. Once we are old and wasted, our government outsource filial piety to our imaginary offspring or young Singaporeans struggling to make ends meet. If there is any moral of the story here, that should explain the why the every-man-for-himself-attitude was increasingly common during my years in Singapore. Eventually the society will be devoid of loyalty, compassion and togetherness. Most of us should already see the early signs by now.

1 comment:

  1. TPL does it again; an insensitive remark from someone who really have no idea what it is like. Outsourcing is a contemporary word that seemed up-to-date with modern life but it is ultimately a very poor choice of words in a sensitive and emotional issue like this.

    She can claim as much as she wants about working in her father's coffeeshop when her parents were sick in her younger days, but wait till her parents get a lot older and see if she gets them to move in with her and 'outsource' the care of her parents and children to a lived in maid.

    It is hard to look after old people, and heart breaking for children to see how their image of their parents when younger and independent, is sobered by the sight of their loved ones weaken by ravages of time.

    But such is the cycle of life, and it is unavoidable we get to experience this.

    Most people who love their parents will try to keep the parents at home, no better how small the new so called 4 or 5 room HDB are now. They know that there is very few people in this world who can qualify for whatever safety net the SG government have. For example the Medifund safety net is on a case by case basis, and nobody (even the doctors and nurse) knows the criteria except the few social workers who are hired by the hospitals to sort out these extreme cases. If there is a good social safety net, then I must be imagining the old people (long past their retirement age) goind around coffeeshop selling tissue papers or collecting recycleables from bins.

    In the news item the cases being put up as 'examples' are parents who are estranged from their family. This could have happened even before the parents are old but I dont see people interviewing 50 year old men or women who doesnt talk to their children anymore for this item.

    I wonder if Mr Chan have a live-in maid? This is also outsourcing care as well you know, Mr Chan!