What's the price on filial piety?

Try telling Mr Daniel Neo that what he gives his parents as an allowance is far too meagre and he eyeballs you.

The insurance agent, 42, who also runs a tuition agency with his girlfriend, earns about $6,000 a month.

His parents, both 67, get $50 each a month from him.

Two months ago, a relative told the elderly couple that they could try to seek maintenance from the Family Tribunal Court.

But they have since decided to drop the case because they did not want to ruin their ties with their only son.The New Paper on Sunday approached the parents, who declined to be interviewed.

However, the senior Mr Neo did tell us in Mandarin: "This is just a small family misunderstanding.

The issue has been resolved, so there isn't a need to blow it up."

On the other hand, his son wants a chance to "clear the misunderstanding".

He does not blame his parents, he says, but the "trouble-making relative".

"I am glad everything got settled before we went to court. It'd have been a waste of time and money," he adds.

But they have since agreed that Mr Neo will give his parents an additional $100 each starting from end of this month.

He says: "Actually, my parents are old and they don't really need the money.

He is annoyed that "nosey parkers" think he is being unfilial.

"I pay for everything even though I don't live with my parents," he says.

His parents live in a three-room HDB flat in the east, while he lives with his girlfriend in their condo unit nearby.

"My parents don't have to pay anything - utilities, conservancy charges or even the groceries," says Mr Neo.

"Both don't cook and because they don't like eating out, I order a tingkat (food delivery) service for their lunch and dinner."

Mr Neo's parents confirmed that their son takes care of household expenses.

"They don't usually go out too, and prefer to spend their time in front of the TV. So, what's the point of giving them so much money?" says Mr Neo.

He adds that he also pays the medical bills and medication for his father, who is a diabetic.

"That is not really much but if you do the sums, it can still come up to several hundreds a year."

Mr Neo laments that as an only child, he has a slight disadvantage.

"It's not that I am complaining, but I don't have siblings who can share the financial load with me," he says.

He feels that parents in general should help to "consider their children's final situation before making unreasonable requests".

Take him as an example. Mr Neo shares that there are months when he earns only about $2,000-$3,000.

"I have my own expenses to take care of, and while $6,000 is what I usually make a month, sometimes there are low months when I barely make half of that," he says.

"I have other commitments - the apartment, the car, credit card bills - to pay for.

"All of that plus saving up for the wedding and the family - that includes a future grandchild that my parents want to see.

"How can I afford to give them more? Even the extra $200 now will mean I have to cut from somewhere."

He argues: "It's totally not right to determine how filial a child is from the allowance he gives to his parents.

"If you add everything together, I can say I spend easily about $1,500 on them. And you say that is not enough?


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