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Stateless 70-year-old man, who lost Malaysian citizenship, sells tissues at Singapore MRT station

A 70-year-old Malaysian-born man in Singapore, stateless after losing his Malaysian citizenship, endures financial hardship amidst rising living costs. He sells tissues at an MRT station to make ends meet.



SINGAPORE – A 70-year-old Malaysian-born resident of Singapore for over seven decades, grapples with statelessness, struggling to secure citizenship and make ends meet by selling tissues near the Paya Lebar MRT station.

As reported by 8world, Mr Wu, who was born in Malaysia, has resided in Singapore for over 70 years.

However, he finds himself stateless after losing his Malaysian citizenship at the age of 25 and facing challenges in obtaining Singaporean citizenship due to language barriers.

Struggling to eke out a living by selling tissues, he barely manages to sustain himself, surviving on a single meal a day and has to avoid medical care due to financial constraints.

Struggles of Mr Wu: A life of solitude, stateless in Singapore

Mr Wu, born in Taiping City, Perak, Malaysia, in 1947, moved to Singapore with his parents at the age of five. However, despite spending most of his life in Singapore, he has been unable to secure local citizenship.

Two attempts to apply for Singaporean citizenship in his youth were thwarted due to his lack of proficiency in English and Malay, 8world reported.

The turning point came at the age of 25 when Mr Wu allegedly had his identification confiscated by Malaysian customs officials for “unknown reasons,” resulting in the loss of his Malaysian citizenship.

Mr Wu, who engaged in traditional Hokkien opera performances and worked various jobs, turned to selling tissues near the Paya Lebar MRT station about a decade ago to make ends meet.

His daily earnings bring in unpredictable income. Speaking to 8world, Mr Wu said, “I start selling tissues at 6 a.m. every day and go home at 5 p.m. Sometimes I earn S$50, sometimes S$70, sometimes S$30, the income varies every day and never exceeds S$100.”

Living a life of solitude, he has faced numerous personal tragedies. After divorcing his first wife, he lost contact with her, and his long-term partner of 28 years succumbed to cancer a few years ago.

Moreover, following the deaths of his parents, disputes over assets led to severed ties with his two sisters.

生在#马来西亚 长在#新加坡 却无国籍,七旬阿叔卖纸巾艰难维生。#8worldnews #sgnews

♬ 原声 – 8视界新闻网 – 8视界新闻网


Currently, Mr Wu, without children and without a stable income, resides alone in the living room of a Housing Development Board (HDB) apartment in Aljunied. He manages a monthly rent of S$350.

It is reported that the small cart he owns, filled with tissues and various other items, constitutes all his worldly belongings.

In the previous year, with assistance from the authorities, he acquired a special pass and is now receiving S$410 monthly, alleviating some of his financial challenges.

However, the ongoing increase in the cost of living remains a source of constant distress, compelling him to adopt a frugal lifestyle.

“I eat only one meal a day, sometimes a proper meal, sometimes just porridge. It’s about saving money, making every dollar count.

“For example, if you buy this for me to eat, I won’t eat it, I haven’t eaten today and will wait until tomorrow to decide,” Mr Wu said.

While he believes his health is relatively good, a recent car accident and swelling in his right eye have raised concerns.

Doctors at a clinic advised him to seek hospital evaluation, but the fear of accumulating medical expenses has deterred him from seeking necessary care.

“I dare not go to the hospital; I don’t have money. Look at my eyes like this, I dare not go to the hospital. If I go, they’ll keep me, charging me every day. Where do I have the money to give them?” he said.

Resigned to his fate, he doesn’t intend to reapply for citizenship, taking each day as it comes without expectations for the future.

As of November 2020, there were 1,109 stateless individuals residing in Singapore, according to a response to a parliamentary question on February 2021 regarding stateless residents by Mr K Shanmugam, the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law.

Of this population, 76% are permanent residents (PR) who benefit from various privileges afforded to PRs, including access to healthcare, housing, and education.

The procedure for attaining citizenship or permanent residency is intricate, considering factors such as family connections and economic contributions.

“When such persons apply for PR or Singapore Citizenship (SC), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) evaluates every application on a range of criteria including length of stay in Singapore, family profile, economic contributions, education qualifications, age, and family ties to Singaporeans,” he added.

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cannot be leh. even if cops steal or chope his MY ID card, he should still be a malaysian by birthright. MY gov should still have his record.

why must HDB help to house this guy? deport!!! why must singapoor feed malaysia’s problems?

Just say Boh Bian Lor, Lan Lan Lor

Singapore refuses to give citizenship to a man who has lived most of his life here because of a “lack of proficiency in English or Malay”. So why then is Singapore giving out citizenship to thousands of PRCs who also do not have profiency in either language?

The real reason is because one is poor and the thousands of others have lots of (illicit) money to”invest” in Singapore.