#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?