Maintenance of Parents Act
Dr Crippen wrote about a patient of his, an old man who is in need of a carer but whose estranged son would not take up the duty.
I made a comment about the Maintenance of Parents Act we have here in Singapore, and Dr Crippen, a lawyer himself, was keen to know more about it, so I googled it up and had a read myself.
Now Dr Crippen commented that the issue must be a 'minefield', and it seems the persons wording the Act expected 'trouble' too, as evident from the following clauses:
"The Tribunal shall have the following powers:
(a) to dismiss frivolous or vexatious claims at a preliminary stage on the basis of the affidavits and other documentary evidence;"
"Any person who —
(a) assaults, wilfully insults or obstructs the President, a member or an officer of the Tribunal or any witness during a sitting of the Tribunal or while the President, member, witness or officer is on his way to or from such a sitting;
(b) assaults or wilfully insults or obstructs any person in attendance at a sitting of the Tribunal;
shall be guilty of an offence..."
I remember the media buzz around the issue when the Bill was being debated in parliament, but frankly I don't know of any of my patients who had applied for maintenance under the Act, nor do I know how many persons have applied for maintenance successfully.
I did have many patients who came to the various clinics I sat in alone or accompanied by only the maid, and it could be hard at times to communicate effectively the information required for the care of the patients. The appointment could be as infrequent as once every three to six months, and the date be fixed as early as three to six months in advance too, but their children would never be free to accompany them. The only time you would see the children was when something had gone wrong and they wanted to lodge a complaint, and then each would try to prove himself the more filial child by outdoing the other in the vehemence of his indignation.
All of a sudden they had time to come to the clinic.
These patients were not literally abandoned by their children, nor did they lack the money to pay the medical bills, but I've always felt they were neglected.
Well, I guess the law can compel one to give money to one's parent, but not care.