1. Singaporean Tan Jee Suan
Hawker who donates $10,000 to MRT death fall man’s family:
I know what it’s like to be POOR
By Dawn Chia (The New Paper)
October 22, 2006
SO poor that you have little more than the clothes on your back and are always struggling to make ends meet.
All these memories came flooding back to Mr Frankie Gwee when he read about the plight of the Tan family of Boon Lay.
Husband dead, killed by a train. Wife left to cope with mounting debt and two teenage boys alone. (Read on...)
I am deeply saddened that it takes the unnecessary death of another Singaporean for us to be jolted out from our slumber of complacency.
Mr. Tan Jee Suan,46 died last week.
He was one of our chronically unemployed. A blot on our impressive employment statistics churned out ever so often by government ministries and departments. A stain on our record of being able to find work for those who are willing.
Mr. Tan has escaped and slipped through our society’s safety net. I do not deny that hundreds and possibly thousands are helped by government and charitable organisations’ efforts to alleviate the sufferings of these impoverished families.
But one Mr. Tan is one too many.
Had Mr. Tan chosen a more mundane way of dying, eg jumping from an HDB flat, he would just have been another digit in Singapore’s "one suicide-a-day" statistics.
The response from common Singaporeans, when more than $500K was collected for Mr. Tan’s family, showed that we empathise with the plight of people like him. He is one of us and we understand that this underclass exists and is worthy of help.
We certainly do not need elites and their parents to tell us that the poor are poor because they are unable to compete in the new economy. (Useful link about the 3-Wee's Saga)
Unfortunately, all the money in the world will not return Mr. Tan to his household. His sons will have to grow up prematurely. His last gift to them would be the $10 for their chicken rice.
Ironically, less than 10% of this amount would have cleared all his mounting debts. Perhaps even 1% of it, if offered on that fateful day might have dissuaded him from making that tragic leap.
Let us go beyond the blame game.
How many suicides can we prevent? Admittedly and sadly, not all are preventable. But Mr. Tan’s decidedly was.
As government organs go on a collective soul-search amidst finger-pointing, how do we as individuals measure up? How do you react when a friend, a distant relative, suddenly calls you to borrow some money?
I have not been able to find a solution for this recurring dilemma.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
PS: Time is scarce now as I have just enrolled in an MBA program. Besides neglecting my blogging, I have also almost stopped my regular runs. I am starting to have real doubts if I will be able to do the half-Marathon come Dec. Sigh!
Singaporean No. 2: Akan Datang