#271 begging

Of late I met some strange ways of begging.

Yesterday at a bus stop, a Malay elderly lady didn’t flag the bus when the only bus that ply along the road arrived. I was waiting for a friend. When the bus passed by, this elderly lady carrying a ten dollar note on her left hand and fifty cents on her right. She asked for fifty cents so she could board a bus.

I asked, “Do you have an elderly buscard?” She showed me the concession card hung around her neck. One stop away was the Gombak MRT station where she could top-up the card. As I do not understand or speak Malay, I gave her the fifty cents. I also approached some Malay passerbys to tell her that she could top-up her elderly card at the MRT station. They talked to her and she walked to the MRT station.

When my friend arrived, I said, “We should follow the Malay elderly lady to help her.” Strangely when we reached the MRT station, this Malay elderly lady refused to go the station with me mentioning the word, ‘Bedok’ when I persisted.

This exasperated me as the train ride or bus rides to Bedok meant she might have to pay double the fare if she didn’t use her elderly concession.

Then I saw a Malay young girl and asked her to explain to the elderly lady that there is an officer at the MRT control station who could service her even when she cannot see. The elderly lady still refused. The young Malay girl couldn’t accompany her as she was waiting for her mother as her sandals broke.

A Chinese lady sitting around asked and I explained to her. As I talked and observed this lady’s reaction, it dawned on me this could be a scam.

Is this a scam where the elderly has been asked to beg and in return she has to give a cut to whoever taught her to beg in this manner?

Generally when we see an elderly person, we would give without question. Is this scam to exploit the frail elderly and those kind-hearted?

Corner of Raffles Hotel facing City Hall cross-section: Several weeks ago I met a 45-year-old Chinese lady poorly dressed with unkempt streaks of grey hair asking for two dollars so she could buy some food to eat. I offered to buy her food and she turned around to question my sincerity. This aroused my curiosity. I asked, “Why are you begging?” She spoke good English. By sight, one could dismiss her mentally unstable but not when talking with her though. She came all the way from Toa Payoh to beg! She said, “I’d been tricked many times in following those who would buy me food and then told me they changed their minds.” She added she wanted to get a job but… Looking at her appearance, I said, “If you wanted to go for a job interview, you have to dress tidily and comb your hair otherwise the hirer imagine you’re making a fool of the hirer and yourself”. In the end, I added, “Since you doubted my sincerity, why should I trust you?”

On one occasion at Bugis Junction, an elderly Indian man came to beg money for food. I offered to buy him food as I thought he might use that money to buy booze. Strangely he rejected my offer and quickly disappeared.

In my personal experiences helping the poor and sick, these will never resort to begging however bad their situation. These poor would rather die with dignity!

Lately, I see individuals sitting by the road or pathway leading to MRT stations begging — looking pitiful, lame and frail. Some on wheelchair…

I cease to buy packets of tissues from those elderly as the tissue-packets came from suppliers who get a cut from that sold!

Are these part of a syndicate scam?

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#248 poverty

Finally the real question is asked on poverty in some nations: why is Africa poor?

A commentator, an African, candidly acknowledges that Africa is rich in resources but it is their national leaders who are corrupt and squandered the people’s wealth for their own pleasure.

The leaders fill their own stomach but the people…?

Should surrounding or rich nations offer charity to help these poor?

Unfortunately civil unrests and killings are endemic in Africa. Why do people kill people? 

Many mad leaders who champion freedom exploited children to fight! The leaders would not soil their hands… How depraved some adults or leaders are!

What is freedom? Where is freedom? What is democracy? Where is human rights?

#180 bronze for india’s unsung champion boxer

In post #152 Vijender Kumar was cited on BBC page as one who will compete at the Olympic Games ‘against the odds’.

The 22-year-old has returned with a bronze medal.

What an achievement for one true to his calling and vocation in sports in spite a lack of support from sponsors or government — his dedication, persistence and hard work…together with the support of his father.

photo taken from bbc international

…Kumar’s father, Diwan Singh, rode the bus an hour each way every day to bring his son a bucket of milk. To buy milk here in the city, where Kumar lived in a dingy room under the bleachers at Chatrasal Stadium, would have been too expensive. His father kept a buffalo at home, in a village on the outskirts of the city, and the family sacrificed so the son would not go without.

Kumar’s room at the stadium is lined with five wooden cots pressed close together for five burly wrestlers. Trousers hang from hooks on the wall. A pair of mice share the room. On an altar are the medals that each of the five have won along the way, next to images of Hanuman, the Hindu god that wrestlers in India revere.

…The father of Vijender Kumar, the boxer, could give him only his prayers.  (excerpt by Somini Sengupta)

#78

I remember the days I envied our neighboring countries like Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, IndoChina (Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Philippines, Indonesia — these were the rice-bowl nations.

I was fascinated and loved the sights of rice fields — often times wishing I was there. I knew it was hard work…from the little chorus we sang — “planting rice is no fun…bent from morn till the set of sun…cannot sit even for a little while…”

I envied because Singapore was not blessed with fertile soil to plant or land space. We were the tiny dot which could not even be seen on the world map.

Unfortunately over the years, these very countries had gone through political setbacks and strifes…where politicians lined their own pockets instead of building the nation for the people.

Many of the resources and assets the nation was endowed were not fully utilised.

Today, the price of rice has rocketed sky high. Why? Who sets the price of rice? Is this the result of manipulation in the international commodity market?

News aired there is shortage of rice in Thailand due to climate change?!

Planting rice requires time…this cannot be produced overnight unlike processed foods or manufacturing commodities…

Rice, the carbohydrate-complex, is the staple food…especially for the poor in Asia. This is consumed at least twice a day. Without rice, this means hunger and without hope; in severe situation, death. Rice is life. The poor can only afford to buy so much each time and if there is no rice available to buy when needed…hell breaks loose!