Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees speak up

Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees speak up

Seventy-year-old Wen Zhen counts every cent. He eats two slices of bread for breakfast and lunch each. For dinner, he cooks a vegetable dish, paired with a $2 packet of rice that he ekes out over two nights.

Yet outwardly, the retired quality surveyor - who declined to give his full name - would seem to have no money worries. After all, he lives in landed property.

Home is a single-storey terraced house in Opera Estate in Joo Chiat constituency bought by his late father for $17,000 in the 1960s. The 150 sq m house is in original condition and is dwarfed by swanky three-storey homes, but it is worth $1.6 million.

This resident of a millionaire row gets by on some savings and a monthly allowance of $500 from his son, who lives overseas.

Not only that, but Mr Wen Zhen, who is separated from his wife, says his estranged brother has threatened to sell off the house: "I just hope nobody chases me out, because I will have nowhere else to go."

Living in a single-storey terraced house on the same estate, and worrying about financial stability in the future, is administrator Dai S. L., 48. She looks after her 75-year-old mother and 80-year-old father, a wheelchair user. Her firm is not doing well and she is afraid of losing her job.

Ms Dai knows downsizing will free up much-needed cash, but says: "There is no option of selling this house as long as both my parents are still alive. This house was bought by my grandfather, and it means a lot to them."

The retiree residents of Joo Chiat constituency were in the news recently when Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong held a dialogue session there and they highlighted their plight.

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