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TikTok video reignites concern over elderly being forced to work in Singapore

A TikTok video highlighting an elderly cleaner reignites awareness of challenges faced by working elderly in Singapore. A LKYSPP report in Sept 2023 suggested S$1,492 for basic needs for seniors over 65, which was later rebutted by the Singapore Govt.



A recent TikTok video sparked active discussions within the online community, drawing attention once again to the challenges faced by elderly Singaporeans who continue working despite reaching retirement age.

On 24 January, Patrick Xu, a TikTok user, shared a video featuring an interview with a nearly 80-year-old woman who works as a cleaner at a hawker centre in Chinatown.

The video, currently boasting over 230 thousand views, sheds light on the woman’s nine-year tenure as a cleaner at the hawker centre.

Despite having a son who owns a house, they do not live together, and the woman claimed that her son only visits her once a year.

She revealed that she lost her husband in 2009, prompting her to work to sustain herself.

Expressing a sense of loneliness in her three-room HDB flat, she disclosed that her son’s behaviour changed after her husband’s passing.

“My son only gives me S$200 per month, how enough (to make ends meet)?” the elderly told Mr Xu while revealing that she earned S$1670 per month as a cleaner.

The TikToker suggested in the video that the elderly continued employment not only helps cover her household expenses but possibly also provides an opportunity for social interaction, preventing her from feeling isolated at home.

Before concluding the video, Mr Xu extends his wishes for the elderly woman’s good health and happiness.


有家人的房子才叫家,辛苦做工回家,就想听一句“你回来了!”#新加坡 #新加坡生活

♬ 一起看风景(钢琴曲) – 张宇桦

Reflections on the elderly woman’s struggle and the puzzling need to work in retirement

The video has amassed over 400 comments, with netizens expressing empathy towards the elderly woman. Many are questioning why she needs to continue working despite being at retirement age.

Netizens highlight challenges faced by low-income elderly workers

One comment underscored the challenges faced by low-income elderly workers, pointing out issues such as low salaries, limited days off, and extended working hours.

It was emphasized that these circumstances may make it difficult for them to take time off to see a doctor when they are unwell.

Considering Singapore’s high cost of living, the comment implied that the elderly might be hesitant to depend on their children as they age, especially since their children likely have their own families and financial obligations.

A comment raised a challenge, noting that in Singapore, the elderly still receive government subsidies.

The netizen might be referring to the Silver Support Scheme provides additional support for elderly Singaporeans who had low incomes during their working years and now have less in their retirement.

However, one netizen argued that relying solely on government subsidies cannot completely solve the daily living issues.

He proposed introducing an age pension scheme, similar to those in certain Western countries and urged the government to adopt more inclusive policies to care for the country’s pioneer generation.

In another comment, it was mentioned that a 70-year-old individual was reluctant to undergo knee surgery as it would require significant time off, leading to financial concerns.

The netizen added that if there was a comprehensive age pension scheme for eligible elderly individuals, it could at least address their living expenses. Additionally, with government subsidies for surgeries and hospitalization, the elderly woman could undergo knee surgery without worrying about her livelihood.


Elderly Singaporeans forced to work for survival

Interestingly, upon reviewing earlier Reuters reports, it has come to light that the same elderly lady, identified as Mary Lim, was previously featured in an interview by Reuters in 2019.

In an article from five years ago, Reuters highlighted that “almost a third of Singaporeans over 65 continue to work,” citing the insufficiency of Singapore’s CPF retirement saving scheme for many elderly citizens, compelling them to seek employment post-retirement.

At that time, Mary Lim shared with Reuters that “the government’s retirement saving scheme doesn’t provide her with enough money”.

“I have to keep on working until the end of my life,” Mdm Mary lamented.

“What to do, no choice. I have to struggle for it.”

Nearly 70% of elderly workers in Singapore earn less than S$2,500

Singapore is rapidly transitioning toward an aged society. Every six individuals will be over 65 years old.

By 2030, every four Singaporeans will be over 65.

During a response in February 2023 to parliamentary questions by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng revealed concerning figures: Close to seven out of 10 working elderly in Singapore earn less than S$2,500.

The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at the National University of Singapore published a survey finding in Sept 2023 that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need S$1,492 to meet his or her basic needs.

For an elderly couple aged 65 and above, the figure rises to S$2,551, while those aged between 55 and 64 years require S$1,857. The increase amounts to a rise of 4%–5% between 2020 and 2022 for the three indicative household types.

The report unveils figures detailing the necessary income households require to maintain a basic standard of living, using the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) method.

The 2023 MIS report also proposed three significant income reforms: introducing a universal wage floor, revising the CPF model to better serve the elderly, and pegging assistance amounts to current inflation rates.

However, the Singaporean government, in a statement, contested the findings by suggesting that they “might not accurately reflect basic needs”. Instead, the findings should be seen as “what individuals would like to have.”



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For the seniors it is not easily getting an interview opportunity regardless of the qualifications you had. That’s a sad thing! This doesn’t happen today and you have to ask the govt if past efforts had been effective or else it will still spiral down to everybody in the older age group. This remained for years till today. Why there are Grab drivers, and delivery riders holding university degrees? We cannot see through tinted glasses can we?

Last edited 3 months ago by Roger Roger

Do most elderlies’ vote resulted in today’s situations?

Do not feel pity for these useless elderly. They only have themselves to be blamed for not upgrading themselves. Our government tries to help them but at the end, it can only do so much. Everyone is responsible for their own lives. Please don’t expect other taxpayers to bale you out! You dig your own grave!

Luckily not Coerced Compliance for 6 decades.

I bet mom considers these forced to work elderlies in their calculation for unemployment rate to make the number look good. Otherwise the unemployment rate would have been much higher.

I think the answer many will say to this issue is “Bo Bian one lah”

Exercise— Some people like it, Some exercise on Bed. Hahaha.

Remove the average income of a household and work towards the income of individuals for the ComCare and Silver support. Don’t be so petty to take the property the elderly live in to qualify for living support. Most often the children cannot afford to give allowances to the elderly because cost has boomeranged. If changes are not effected quickly, suicides of the elderly will only increase.

who did they voted for? tsk tsk tsk. Stop complaining

Cotton and Pineapple lovers, 9% is good for you.

After elections, will they increase it to 10%?

This PAP government’s reason for increase GST was to help the poor and elderly! Well you ask yourself, is it doing so?

Every year PAP will think of some fancy name to give out vouchers. Now Singaporeans are surviving on this vouchers. More vouchers will be given out when GE coming!

Are you happy now receiving those vouchers? You may be happy, think about your children!

These old idiots suffers cause they never upgrade themselves during younger days. So now, they got to work till they die. They deserve it. If you upgrade yourself and make a lot of money, you don’t hv to become like these idiots.

It is an indictment of the G to see the elderly forced to work to survive despite reaching the sunset of their lives. But I have since realised that those who live in ivory towers with a cushy monthly salaries are unlikely to fathom the depth of desperation these elderly find themselves in. If the G is genuine in wanting to take care of ALL Singaporeans, all the assistance schemes like the Silver Support Scheme and ComCare should be reviewed. As an example, the Silver Support Scheme should just be extended to ALL who reach 65 years. If a criteria… Read more »

Tell you already … The CPF is the elite offshore account. Where got such account with No accountability like here.

Treat as end stage

Quality of Life lah .

Near 60 years with a one-party rule and we still ended up with elderly having to work day and night for their retirement. Something is seriously wrong with the CPF scheme. Maybe it is designed to work for those who don’t need to see the the BALANCE in their banks because they have enriched themselves with our million$ that their bank accounts will never be empty.

So? Complain now?
Why now complain?
Who did these elderly voted for?😄😆😆😆😆

If one is fit & healthy like the a grandma in this story, its not a bad thing…
Hope her boss gives her sufficient rest time..
Sad tho’.
Maybe our sgov is trying to emulate Japan.. there most 70-90yos still work…and they live till 100 to 110yo or more…also they have different lifestyles and diet.

Don’t worry auntie

Many will follow you .

In December 2023, at least 120 individuals had fallen victim to this scheme, resulting in total losses exceeding $13.3 million, the CPF and the police said in a press release on Thursday (1 Feb).

This is what the people voted for. They voted to have their elderly parents working and soon enough the very people who kept these crooks in power will suffer the same fate. In SG, if one is not connected to the all white system or someone within the system, they’ll have to expect this kind of ending or a quick leap from their very own high rise prisons WHICH they don’t own BTW.