A 70-year-old Singaporean elderly cleaner doused himself in petroleum and burn himself to death as he was not able to find employment after he was dismissed. The suicide happened at an open-air carpark along Geylang Lorong 19. 70-year-old Tan Wen De, known as “Ah Guu” in his previous kopitiam workplace, went to the carpark around 10pm on Tuesday (May 31).
According to the Civil Defence, Ah Guu stood next to a parked taxi and poured petroleum on himself before setting himself ablaze. The taxi vehicle exploded and according to witnesses, the flame was as high as 3 storeys. Ah Guu suffered more than 90% burn to his body and was declared dead yesterday morning at 4am.
Ah Guu was working as a coffeeshop cleaner in Geylang for more than 10 years, but he was recently dismissed by his employer. According to his friend, Ah Guu’s life was very hard because he earned barely a S$1,000 a month and was struggling with the cost of living. Ah Guu was not able to find employment for more than a week.
Before his suicide at the carpark, Ah Guu went to give thanks to his friends who were loaning him money. The employer claimed that he dismissed Ah Guu because of a quarrel with a customer and colleague that happened at the coffeeshop.
Elderly suicide is getting more common in Singapore with the CPF retirement system not paying adequate sums and the lack of Minimum Wage for low income workers. In 2014, the number of elderly suicides reached a historical high of 126. This is a 60% jump from only 79 in 2000. Compared to 2010, there were only 95 elderly suicides which confirmed the rising trend. There have also being a rise in suicides among the poor in Singapore due to the lack of welfare. Many poor in Singapore are left out of help because the Singapore government refuse to set a poverty line out of reputation.