Elderly NUS cleaner with mobility issue says he does not need financial help at the moment: MSF

He has no children, and is working to care for his wife who has kidney problems.

Ashley Tan | November 06, 2020, 02:03 PM

The sight of an elderly cleaner moving around with a walking stick in hand and cloth in the other tugged on the heartstrings of many in Singapore.

This was after the story and photos of the 82-year-old cleaner at the National University of Singapore (NUS), known as Uncle Ming, were shared on Facebook on Oct. 6.

In a well-circulated post by Lee Siew Yian, Lee said that she was moved by Uncle Ming's resilience and desire to lead a dignified life despite his limited mobility.

Photo from Lee Siew Yian / FB

Out of concern and with permission from Uncle Ming, she also contacted the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to check if there are any financial assistance schemes the elderly man is eligible for.

The post has since garnered much online support and sympathy for Uncle Ming.

Uncle Ming does not require assistance at the moment

In response to Mothership's queries, MSF confirmed that their Social Service Office (SSO) had reached out to Ming on Oct. 30.

However, Uncle Ming told them that he and his wife have sufficient income and savings for their daily expenses, and do not require financial assistance from the office at the moment.

MSF added that their home is fully paid up, and aside from the CPF payouts his wife is getting, Uncle Ming has also received the highest tier of Silver Support since 2016.

Under the scheme, those in the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and above will receive quarterly cash supplements.

MSF revealed that overall, Uncle Ming has received around S$55,000 in Workfare and Silver Support.

With Uncle Ming’s consent, the SSO also referred both him and his wife to Lions Befriender’s Cluster Support for further assistance.

MSF encourages members of the public to respect the privacy of the elderly.

Those who require, or knows someone who requires social assistance, can call the ComCare Hotline at 1800-222-0000 or find the nearest Social Service Office via this website.

Has "enough"

In Lee's post, she learnt from Uncle Ming that he has no children, and has to care for his wife who suffers from kidney problems and who has to undergo dialysis every week.

With his impaired mobility and poor eyesight, he is also unable to ride his motorcycle to work, and has resorted to taking a taxi to and fro.

The taxi fare costs a total of S$300 a month, around a quarter of his paycheck. He earns S$1,300 a month.

However, Lee said that even with his hardships, Uncle Ming appeared "very cheerful and optimistic".

Uncle Ming also told her that what the couple had at the moment was "enough". The pair also receives rice from a mosque weekly.

Lee commented that Uncle Ming had taught her lessons in gratitude, contentment and resilience.

"Surely, his job is by no means a sensational one, but his inner fire and resilience is what makes him extraordinary.


He wants to lead a dignified life and fend for himself, instead of relying purely on aid. His gratitude heart rose above all adversity and nothing destroyed his optimistic view of life."

Lee added that one simple way for people to help the elderly could be to help them reach out to agencies for assistance.

Nevertheless, she noted the need to understand that some elderly prefer to continue working.

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Top photo from Lee Siew Yan / FB