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February 29, 2008

Maintenance of Parents Act - Singapore

Over 400 parents compel children to support them
Sunday Times April 4, 1999

Report by BRAEMA MATHI

About four in five have obtained orders compelling their children to support them in the last three years.
MORE than 400 elderly people have sought the aid of the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents since it was set up three years ago.
Of the 424 applicants, 328 or almost four in five were successful in getting orders compelling their children to support them. The rest were dismissed or withdrawn, the tribunal told the Sunday Times.
About two out of three who applied were Chinese. Indians made up at least 14 per cent, and Malays at least 9 per cent. The tribunal's secretary, Mrs Sue Kim Lee, said in an interview that there were more fathers than mothers among the applicants.
"I think it is because mothers tend to get more support from their children than fathers," she said.
Most applicants, she said, were single parents -- widowers, widows or divorcees.
The Maintenance of Parents Act came into force in 1995 to give parents above 60 years old who could not support themselves the legal means to claim maintenance from their children.
In 1996, its first year, 152 filed applications with the tribunal, which is at the Ministry of Community Development building in Thomson Road. The number fell to 138 in 1997 and dipped to 134 last year. As at the end of last year, 357 people have been ordered to pay monthly sums of between $10 and $1,500 to their parents. Because the monthly payments can come from more than one child, applicants receive between $20 and $2700 a month.
The tribunal, headed by former Judicial Commissioner K.S. Rajah, sets what each child pays. It looks at each child's average income, his circumstances, the parent's monthly needs and the parent-child relationship.
If the children are in financial difficulties and cannot make the payments, they can ask the tribunal to review the order.
It reviewed 39 cases in 1997, and 63 last year, as the economic crisis bit deeper.
But not all its decisions go smoothly. While maintenance orders have averaged about 100 a year, the number of enforcement orders taken out has gone from 24 in 1997 to 59 last year. A Family Court mediator, Madam Samsiah Mizah, said that often, the children had become unemployed or were too busy to pay promptly.
Parents, she added, usually wait longer than the one-month grace period before applying for an enforcement order.
She said mediation sessions between parents and children are "less volatile" than those between ex-spouses.
"In these cases there is no shouting, no quarrelling in front of us -- the children do not raise their voices against their parents in front of strangers, and parents, too, maintain their dignity."
Mediation usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Most times, she said, the solution is simply getting people to pick up the telephone to tell their parents that payment will be late.
As they are not on good terms, they may be unwilling to call or may not have the parent's number.
Madam Samsiah said: "If they could just pick up the phone and explain why payment is going to be late, they won't have to come to court. Their parents just want to know what's happening.
"They will then be talking to each other, instead of through the mediator."


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(The following is part of an article from BBC UK on the same issue)


Wednesday, 5 August, 1998

In a state where it's a crime to sell chewing gum, urinate in a lift or busk without a license, it might seem there's not much left to pass laws about. But now the government is extending its reach right into the family home.

With an ethos combining rigorous economic self-sufficiency and time-honoured family values, Singapore is now the only state in the world to legally oblige grown-up children to care for their parents. Under the Maintenance of Parents Act, passed last year, old people who can't support themselves can actually sue for cash and care from their children; and so far, the courts have been squarely on the elders' side. For some, it's a rare victory for the rights of the elderly, but others feel the state has finally gone too far by intruding on the delicate relationships between children and their parents.


Source: bbcnews

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It is interesting to look at how India and Singapore tackle the problem of aged care. The debate on whether the government should provide more care for the seniors continues. More on this issue will be posted in the near future.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What happens when the parent had never given any fatherly care or concern, except paying for basic education? The father does not pay for the college education too. But harass the child for payment once the child is working. The current generation people are sandwiched between feeding their young and paying for the old. This is crazy.

miera said...

hi.. i agree with some of the views saying that children who had been neglected by their parents in childhood days might feel that it is unfair for them to maintain the life of their parents.. but do remember some countries do have acts that protect the right of the children against their parents... so currently another act should be introduce to supplement it to equality to both sides. for me, introducing the maintenance of parents act is a great idea to create a more loving society...

Anonymous said...

hi. i believe the courts will look closely at each case. if the parents had neglected the child earlier, they are unlikely to be able to get approval for support from their child. that wouldn't be fair!

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Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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