The police and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) are investigating a video showing an older woman being slapped in the face by a younger woman.
MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has also pledged to follow up and make sure that the victim is protected.
The incident, filmed covertly by a neighbour and posted on Facebook on Monday night, has highlighted the issue of elderly abuse here. The MSF said there are around 200 reports of elderly abuse a year.
The Vulnerable Adults Act to be introduced by the year end will offer protection. The law will give social workers and other professionals the powers to enter the home of a suspected victim to assess the situation and move him to safety if necessary.
The video clip of the incident at the doorstep of a flat in a Lower Delta Road block had been viewed more than half a million times yesterday.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said a woman from the flat was taken conscious to Singapore General Hospital late on Monday night but gave no further details.
When The Straits Times visited the unit yesterday, a note was posted outside by someone called "Siti". The note said that Siti and her mother Kamisah had moved out and were staying at a friend's house because they and her father Khamis owed people "a lot of money". Nobody answered the door.
According to Mr D.V. Singh, 39, who lives next door, Madam Kamisah is 58 and jobless, while Siti, 25, used to work for a fast-food chain. Mr Khamis, he said, is a cleaner and moved out four months ago.
Other neighbours told The Straits Times yesterday that they often see the older woman being physically abused, and that her husband and daughter were responsible.
Mr Samat S. said that two weeks earlier, his wife had seen the older woman falling over after getting out of a taxi. "The daughter slapped and kicked her as she lay on the ground," said the bus driver.
Another neighbour, housewife Jacquelin Low, 48, said she saw regular abuse over at least the past year. "The mother would be sweeping or washing the floor and the daughter would stand next to her and suddenly start shouting. She would slap the mother," she said. "Last time, she (the mother) had a lot of hair and looked pretty sturdy. Now, she looks so weak and her hair has all dropped off."
Ms Low said she also heard the mother shout "tolong, tolong" (Malay for help) almost nightly, but did not want to interfere.
Mr Singh said he often heard banging on the wall and shouts coming from the unit. "The husband would come back from work around 10pm and scold his wife with their door wide open," he claimed, adding that, sometimes, she would be hit with shoes and chairs. "I have seen him take a broom and whack his wife's head. She would be crying and screaming that she would not do anything wrong again."
Asked why he did not inform the authorities, he said: "I dare not interfere in domestic affairs."
The video was filmed and posted by Mr Mohammad Juani, 25, known as "ApohTecky Numero". The limousine driver told The Straits Times he posted it as he "could not bear seeing the auntie like that any more" after six months of almost daily abuse. He also made a police report.
Urging the public to report any such incidents, Minister Tan said: "We know that we have altercations in families and we want to respect the families' space but I think we do need to raise awareness and to step in when we need to."
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event in Chai Chee yesterday.
Mr Tan had also written on Facebook that the ministry will follow up and "make sure that the elderly lady is protected".
Dr Lily Neo, MP for the area (Tanjong Pagar GRC), urged residents to look out and care for one another. She said: "Sometimes, when families do something in the privacy of their home, we can't see. If no one tells us, we won't know."
Additional reporting by Derek Wong
This article was first published on July 22, 2015.
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