She looked like any other cardboard collector on the street, malnourished, hunched and scrawny. She too was pushing a cargo trolley along the outer corridors of the Bugis Junction with a pink paper basket with lots of her barang barang. Just as like every other elderly scavenging for paper boxes, they all had a story to tell.
However Madam Hua wasn't a cardboard collector, she was a recent victim of a traffic accident along Bencoolen Street last July when a driver hit her on red light. Then she was a cleaner, however that accident took away her job and left her with a broken leg still in cast. She needed that trolley to aid her else she couldn't walk.
Today, she was just a patron at Bugis Junction wanting to visit Pet Lovers Centre to buy canned food for her adopted void deck cat. There she was standing at the outer corridor of Bugis Junction of where Pet Lovers Centre entrance used to be. Perplexed and unable to articulate properly, she asked hurried passer-bys of the new location of the pet shop, only to be turned down and denied with hasty answers. Afterall, it was lunch hour.
She did not approach me but i sense her helplessness. I knew what it was like to be in walking in a walker boot after an accident. Not to mention hunching and needing a trolley for support . I couldn’t turn away.
I looked up the new location and told her that the Pet Lovers Centre relocated to B1, just next to the escalators located next to the MRT entrance. I thought it would be a challenge for her to walk through the crowd with the trolley but she was a lady made of steel. She told me later she was going to walk back all the way from Bugis Junction to Dickson road where she lived. That was at least a 1 km walk.
Single , childless, and now jobless, and also a temporary handicap, I figured that the only thing keeping her motivated are the 3 cats that she “adopted” at her previous place of dwelling somewhere near mayo street. Liker her cats, she has no permanent home.
She almost burst into tears when she spoke of the time when she heard of the news that 1 of her cats died because of apparent abuse. The cat passed away after being kicked and stomped in the streets. Another feline fled the area after territorial dispute of other street cats, never to return again.
The last cat becomes the sole motivation she came to Bugis Junction for , as she only chooses the best for her cats. When I suggested that she may go to Cold Storage to pick up some cat food instead of the long walk, she said that the selection at the pet aisle wasn’t specific enough. I understood her demands only after she bought out a torn cat food label to show the staff what she wanted. This was a selfless mother who was willing to compromise herself for her babies, whether human or not . She was willing to put her cats first even though she was spending the last of her savings and was in terrible, terrible shape.
When asked if she had any living relatives, she mentioned a niece who lived in woodlands. But now she spends her time waiting for her leg to heal while waiting for the court to show its findings. It's been 6 months already yet court proceedings are unable to determine whose at fault. She remembered passer-bys all taking cameras to record yet none of them stood up to bear witness or testify. I don’t think she know her rights and whether she qualifies for
When I asked if she qualified for any government subsidies and grants due to her current situation, apparently she was told she does not because she still some savings left. And perhaps only when she breaks the bank she will eventually qualify. Until then, she has to rely on her savings and hope nothing worse happens.
Is this a case of a typical too rich to qualify for help but too poor to have a basic roof and 3 meals over her head? This may be another example of what Dr Lee Bee mentioned in parliament in January 29 2017 about how" The Government should pay more attention to the quality and development of civil servants such that officers are “committed, trustworthy, and ... serve with their hearts” as quoted in the Today's newspaper.
If a homeless, poor traffic victim like Madam Hua can save and scrimp, walk a few kilometers just so she can buy good cat food to feed her void deck cats, can Singapore do better? Can we do better ?
~~~If Any Kindhearted witnesses saw the accident last year, please provide your testimonials to the Traffic Police so that her case can be closed and hopefully rightfully compensated. Currently, there are no eye witnesses.~~
*APPEAL FOR WITNESSES *
Incident : Traffic Accident
Location : Traffic Junction at Bencoolen Street opposite Sim Lim Square
When: July 2016