Good idea, but think about issues: MPs

What Mr Lester Ching is doing is noble, but those wanting to help others must consider some things, say MPs and social workers contacted by The New Paper.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP for Marine Parade GRC, said: "Conceptually speaking, this is a noble idea.

"By doing this, he is encouraging the person to be self-reliant by providing enough support for him to get back on his feet again."

She pointed out some practical considerations: "There must be inherent trust because they are living with people whom they don't know very well. The person moving in might also have adjustment issues. All these need to be ironed out."

Ms Tin commended Mr Ching's intention of providing disadvantaged people with employment as this form of long-term support is valuable.

Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said: "Personally, I would encourage any act of kindness, but the person who initiates this needs to be very careful.

"If he is able to open up the eatery to people who need a place to stay without contravening any building regulations, then it would be a win-win situation and we should encourage it."

He gave examples of people he encountered at Meet-the-People sessions who have difficulties finding accommodation, and have baggage, such as loan shark or family problems.

"So he needs to be aware of expectations and there should be a way that both parties can separate amicably should things fail to work out," Mr Zainal said.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, said: "He has a good heart and the compassion to help the less fortunate.

"It provides an outlet for people who are not able to get state welfare because of one reason or another. It is complementing what the state provides for low-income families and those who are truly in need."

He suggested that Mr Ching work closely with family service centres near him so that they can also provide the necessary help.


Mr Alwyn Chia, 41, who has been in social service for about five years, said: "This is a spontaneous act of goodwill given to the unfortunate. More and more people are coming up with novel ideas to help this group of people. This is certainly an encouraging sign."

But he said the real solution is to solve the root of the problem. For example, if the person chooses to be homeless because he could not get along with family members, then the most important thing is to resolve the conflict.

He said: "We need to find out why these people are homeless and find a more permanent solution."

He said the public could help them to find proper governmental channels as many of them might not know how to do so.

Mr Chia cited the Ministry of Social and Family Development's ComCare hotline (1800-222-0000) as one such channel.

This article was first published on August 06, 2014.
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