Old Lady Selling Tissue Paper ~ Mr Tan Chuan-Jin

  -> Tan Chuan-Jin

I had earlier posted about the PRC man begging (updates below). Curiously, the day after, I met an old lady selling tissue paper outside POMO. I spoke to her at length. She was reluctant to share her personal info but I managed to glean out some. She was going to turn 82 soon. She claimed that both her children didn’t give her much hence her need to come out to sellthings. She sounded scared to share details even after I assured her of our help because she seemed fearful of her daughter who she claimed had locked her out before. She later said that she was in not too bad a state and only came out to sell occasionally. She also added that she was selling to help someone.

She seemed in good condition and I couldn’t determine if she was in financial distress…but at 82 and needing to do this? And with the fragments she shared…I was concerned at her well being from her children.

I asked the authorities to follow up and they found her there after visiting POMO twice. They got more details from her. The assessment is that she doesn’t need immediate help but she knows who to follow up with if she does.

But another key point was surfaced. She has been featured before in the media. Remember the report in August 2014 about this old lady in Holland Village who could make up to $1,000 a day? I understand that she had also gone on to Orchard Rd to beg from Filipino women. I didn’t recognise her…but now on reading the article again…yes, it is her indeed!


Well, like I said, talk to these old folks or people who seem to need help. Find out what details you can. Where they need help, call COMCARE 1800 222 0000 or let us know so that we can follow up. While it is not always what it seems, and I’ve encountered some similar ‘exploitative’ cases, and there are probably more that a few who see these efforts as easy money-making opportunities, there are genuine folks who do need help. So don’t stop speaking to them and following up…it may make a real difference to some of them.


(Update: We have tracked the PRC man’s data down and on exit, unless he is picked up earlier, we should be able to deal with him then. I don’t believe he is here for any legitimate reason other than to beg. Whether he is part of a syndicate or not remains to be seen.)



  • Just gave me an idea, instead of giving $ to this begged, I will pass them a piece of paper with comchest hotline number.
  • they r everywhere. There is an old man at woodlands MRT for the past 12 yrs. Now, there’s an additional lady with a very young boy. They take away the charity dollar from other purposes. The old man looks v good even after 12 yrs. Can we prohibit old people from selling tissue? Its like begging in disguise?Can we not put them in homes or find them jobs if the law cannot ensure their children take care of them. Whatever family problems should be assisted by other relevant agencies? With an aging population, the problem will just get worse. Also, foreigners r “competing” with them nowadays. Our charity dollars are not helping the right people
  • Good that it got everyone thinking. Is this an acceptable thing in Singapore? Is it a form of being independent instead of asking for handouts? Is it because these people could not get a job that they like? Is this the job they are happiest with instead of the fixed 9 to 5 work? For those who say this is easy money, she probably thinks sitting behind a screen in an air-con room is easier. I am glad that she was left on her own and her wishes respected but offered help so that she knows that our society and at least one of our leaders cared.
  • This is the way to get to the bottom of the issue. However there are people who who see don’t see the picture & then generalize the situation for whatever reason.
    Good job Mr Tan CJ ! I too see some of these old folks who don’t need the money but know how to take advantage sympathy from the public for monetary gain. However there will always be people blaming the government for their situation.
  •  they are actually not poor just to getting extra for themself, easy earned money with the age when they moving around to get empathy from local, it could create an unpleasant image for Singapore as if our government does not care of the needy.
    If they really poor, I guess they should be able to seek help from MP during the MEET the PEOPLE SESSION.
  • Local or not does not make a diff. It is abt helping someone who is truly in need of help (and deserve to be help).E.g.was at the curry rice coffeeshop at tiong bahru the other day.. A LOCAL 60ish uncle approach me and friends with tissue papers..we rejected. After he left.. My friend inform me that this uncle is a relative of his buddy. He loves to gamble and booze and resort to selling tissue to earn quick bucks.
  • Ppl should learn to differentiate and make the appropriate actions. Sometimes it is not being unkind or uncompassionate for not helping these old folks for not buying from them but whether it is a genuine case of help in need. Problems need to be solved at its root if any and seriously something would be wrong if a Singaporean needs to beg on the street.
  • You have my respect, sir. You reach out to the masses, esp. those who are in need. And, you do not hesitate to raise alarms for those who are taking advantage of us. In sum, really in touch with the issues on the ground. Alas, never had the chance to work with you in your past appointments. God speed and continue your fine work for the masses.
  • I have encountered old man and women PRC selling tissue outside Jem and
    Inside Clementi mall. Therefore, will always speak to them n listen to accent before giving making purchase. I wonder whether they are on long term social visit and might as well reap some money before heading home. As much as I would like to help but being exploited in my own land is a NO no.
  • If nothing, getting to know them is really just a part of being human – taking an interest in other people, no matter what their stature or appearance.
  • Minister’s last para is key. If each of us take some effort it will make this easier and weed out the non genuine ones while looking out for folks who are in need. I suppose compassion requires some effort. CJ will be blessed.

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