A photo of an elderly woman holing up at a bus stop in Tampines circulated on social media recently, after it was posted to Facebook by activist and ex-Reform Party election candidate Gilbert Goh.
Goh is known for going around Singapore to pass out necessities to those living rough.
He wrote that the woman seemed "remotely lonely" and commuters alighting from the bus did not offer help.
Highlighting that there were two other homeless elderly nearby, Goh lamented that Tampines now appears to have a "cluster of homeless folks".
MSF: Woman rejected help
The post garnered over 300 shares and drew much sympathy from netizens. Some lamented about her not receiving any aid.
In response to Mothership's queries, the Ministry of Social and Family Development said that the elderly woman pictured has been approached a number of times by the Social Service Office (SSO), government agencies and community partners with assistance.
However, she declined their offers of help.
MSF added that the woman owns a HDB flat.
The ministry also said that the SSO will continue to work with MSF's partners to reach out to and engage the elderly woman, as well as support her where necessary.
"We encourage members of the public to respect the privacy of vulnerable persons.
Building an inclusive and a caring society is a collective effort. If you come across individuals or families who require support, please call the ComCare hotline at 1800-222-0000 or approach the nearest SSO."
Tampines a town of the homeless?
In his post, Goh wrote that he visited the woman following a tip-off.
"People alighting from the bus just files past by her nonchalantly as she tilts her head down low to rest.
Sadly, no one really bothers about her and she seems remotely lonely in a eastern corner of Singapore."
The photo showed the woman cradling her head with numerous plastic bags around her on the seat. Her legs were also bandaged and "swollen black".
She took a fleece blanket that Goh offered, but rejected the sweater and sleeping bag as she had too many things to carry.
Goh also expressed surprise at her command of English. However, he did not probe further about the story behind her "homelessness".
He also speculated that the number of homeless folks in Tampines increased due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Goh then urged those who encounter homeless people to show some compassion by offering them simple items like a towel or blanket.
You can read his full post here.
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Top photo from Gilbert Goh / FB