SINGAPORE - A common sight in society - that of old people selling packets of tissue paper in public places - needs to be addressed.
These people need gainful employment, appropriate social grants, or placements in homes for the aged.
A fair number of foreigners among these seemingly helpless people may also make the problem seem bigger than it is.
I once saw an elderly man at Geylang Serai market. His legs had been amputated and he sat in a wheelchair, begging for alms with a donation tin.
I returned to where he was after I had bought my groceries, and saw a young man approach the elderly beggar and swop his filled donation tin for a new one.
The old man also handed over cash he had in a pocket. I then saw the young man leave in a Malaysian-registered minivan.
During the Muslim fasting month, one can also see families with children in tow going from house to house begging for money, especially in private estates.
After talking to some of them, I discovered many were from Malaysia or Indonesia.
It is also not unusual to see individuals from China playing musical instruments at MRT underpasses and near bus interchanges, or others from India reading palms and telling fortunes at five-foot-ways.
All this is something we can do without for the larger good.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development should set up a task force or expand its existing one to weed out these unwelcome foreigners who sully the good name of Singapore.
Repeat offenders should be blacklisted and barred from future entry.
This article was first published on June 2, 2014.
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