According to a coverage by TodayOnline, Singapore’s elderly poor are in such drastic poverty that more are demanding for free funeral service as they have no money. An average cost for a funeral is between S$1,000 to S$3,000, and most elderly poor who are already struggling with their daily meals are likely to die without a dignified procession.
Charity organisation Nam Hong Welfare Service Society started providing free funeral services for the elderly needy and poor two years ago. General Manager of Nam Hong, Aaron Ng, said that his organisation is not able to meet the increased demand:
“For these elderly, by and large, they’re rather superstitious. They’re concerned about their spiritual status when they pass on because there is nobody to take care of it or conduct ceremonies and they’ll become ‘wandering souls’. More than 100 enquiries were made, even though the funds raised could just cover the funeral arrangements for some 70 seniors aged 65 and above, who have a gross household income of less than S$1,800 a month.”
Other charity organisations and even non-charity funeral parlours are also contributing to provide free funeral services for the elderly poor, with those signing up getting free professional photos taken. The Singapore government does not provide welfare for the poor as it claimed that welfare services might be abused.
The grimed social phenomenon is taking trend for the aging population, especially for singles with no relatives. Extreme poverty in Singapore is common especially among the elderly because of the lack of Minimum Wage and a pension scheme. The national retirement system, CPF, is a failed private insurance scheme that provides barely enough to meet daily needs in the consecutively-ranked most expensive city in the world.