Angry Doctor

Monday, March 06, 2006

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.


  • it's really sad to know that we need a law to compel the children to maintain their own parents.

    increasingly we see more parents are being abandoned in the old folks homes or hospitals....conveniently forgotten by their own kins.

    apparently the chinese are the most guilty in our asian society.

    i wonder whether it ever cross the mind of the children that one day eventually they themselves would be old too...would they want their own children then to abandon them?

    what kind of examples are we setting for our children?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 07, 2006 9:49 am  

  • We set the examples to our children on how we want to be treated when we grow old.

    It's as simple as that.

    But remember that as examples we can only do so much. There is no guaranteee what our children will do. It is their lives not ours.

    So I hope my kids will take care of me when I am old, but I plan in the event that they don't.

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At March 07, 2006 10:44 am  

  • Me and the wife don't have to depend on our children.

    Our plan is to be independent, wealthy, healthy and happy.

    Our plan is also to have high quality maids take care of us when we are infirmed or struck down with dementia or AZ. Just like one of our founding fathers who recently went to the happy hunting ground. The worst case scenario is to go to a high end retirement home.

    Any support and filial piety shown by our children is a bonus. The way things are going, Plan B may not be necessary.

    By Blogger uglybaldie, At March 07, 2006 6:01 pm  

  • High quality maids that are there, sticking thru with you thick and thin,are usually of their own volition.

    Kindness begets kindness. It must have been great kindness shown for someone to be faithful to you when you are no longer c0-herent or rational.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 07, 2006 10:54 pm  

  • anon2 - yes, the carer for one of our recently deceased beloved founding father came to mind.

    anyways, there are always such cases around. Let me give you an example first. In Canada, you are expected to move out by 18, to not hinder your parents anymore, and some parents will pay only the tuition fees for college, you're expected to get your own allowance. In Singapore, some parents disallow their children from working until graduation. My friend (who's 50) has a son getting his PHD (with an allowance of $1500per month) is still getting a hefty allowance from him - the son claims that 1500 is not enough. My friend drives a taxi, 10 hours a day, and the son is 28. Has thing become a culture in Singapore? I dread to think so. My sister herself demands my dad support me thru Uni when I am perfectly glad to work and pay for myself.

    And then, this is the culture we cultivate. That children are no longer parents' insurance for the future, but truly, a monetary burden instead. Is this what we want our children to learn? The story of the wooden bowl comes to mind.

    Of course, there are also cases that reflect the alternative. A couple of years back, a father went to court to enforce this law on his children. It was thrown out, because it was established that the father DID NOT do this duty as a parent at all - he not only abandoned them early on, but never gotten into contact until he was in need. But this is rather extreme.

    I shudder to think of the future. Ugly Baldie is taking a route that many have chosen. Whether it is necessary remains to be seen, but it is always good to have such a backup. I know of people who have their eyes on their parents' property long before their parents die - "it's going to be mine, anyway". Worse still, we are not expecting our children to be there when we are old.

    I'm sad over this. But ah well. Society. What to do?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 07, 2006 11:14 pm  

  • So what happens if you have, for sake of argument, an elderly couple who can no longer look after themselves and have one daughter who lives a hundred miles away and is not interested.

    Can she be compelled to look after her parents?

    What is the mechanism?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 12, 2006 7:25 am  

  • Well John, now you're asking something beyond my knowledge.

    I'm not sure that the Act provides for a respondent to be summoned back from overseas. But then again, even if it doesn't, there is a provision for appeal to the High Court, which surely must have the power to issue a summon?

    Glad to see your interest is piqued.

    By Blogger angry doc, At March 12, 2006 9:43 am  

  • "We set the examples to our children on how we want to be treated when we grow old."

    Very wise words indeed and I totally agree with them. If someone was given adequate love and shelter from his parents, I feel it would be his duty to take care of them when they are unable to do so.

    However, what about the parent who fails to ensure his own child's needs are met and neglects his child? Let's not forget there are people like this as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 14, 2007 5:11 pm  

  • I have a deadbeat father, one who beats his children up. He was perpetually drunk. I'm married overseas now, but now, he's going to court and asking the law to come after me under the Act.

    By Blogger Unknown, At September 13, 2007 1:59 am  

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