Singapore is by anybody standard a rich country where most people are doing well but yet there are people who seems to be so poor that they had to resort to begging or are they conmen?
Some recent encounters have me a bit unsettled and sad.
There was this morning when we were going to work and outside our place we saw an old man walking slowly. He then turned round and asked the directions to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. We thought it was strange since we were right outside Changi Hospital. But as we talked to him, we could see that he was obviously in distress. Alarmed, I asked him and he said he had a weak heart and was going to get an attack of asthma and shown us his inhaler. We tried asking him to go over to Changi. We even offered to walk him over but he insisted his doctor was at TTSH and he had to go there but had no money. Looking at him, and if he was genuinely sick, we doubt he could last the bus journey there especially in peak hour traffic. We were in a dilemna. We couldn’t leave him there since he looked so sick and we couldn’t persuade him to go with us to CGH. In the end, we did what we thought was the most practical. We halted a taxi, told the taxi driver to send him to TTSH and we paid the taxi-driver in advance. You see at the end of the day, we were still doubtful that we were not being taken for a ride by a very good actor.
One evening on the way home, there was this boy. He looks like he had cerebal palsy and was on a clutch. He was trying to sell some sort of donation tickets. I am very wary of people hawking these ‘donation’ tickets on the streets. Beside the fact that almost a good 90% of the money collected goes to the marketing agency, there have been many reported case of cheating where the receipients are non-existent charity. So I wasn’t prepare to buy any donation ticket but the poor chap look so pitiful. But could buying the tickets encourage more of this type of ‘sophiscated begging’?
Then this morning at SGH while on the way home, was stopped by a man who claimed he had insufficient money to pay his hospital bill and just need $7 to cover the difference. I smell a con straightaway but was loathe to dismiss him outright. What I wanted to do was to go with him to the cashier and enquiry but Mom was with me and as she had just had surgery, I wasn’t too keen to keep her waiting or follow me around. So in the end I gave him the benefit of the doubt and gave him the money but somehow I can’t help but feel that I been conned.
Almost everyday, some of us will inevitably ran into people asking for help or more specifically money. It can be the old aunties selling tissue papers, the Indonesian ladies begging outside mosques and along HDB, the slick guy in shirt and tie trying to ask for donation for one organisation after another.
Which one of them are genuine or are they all con job?