Elderly man often seen asking for food and money while sprawled out on ground in Toa Payoh

The New Paper
May 25, 2023

If you’ve been to Blk 178 Toa Payoh Central over the past year or two, an elderly man sprawled on the floor might have gotten your attention. 

Because that’s exactly what the man sets out to do a couple of times a week – draw the attention of people, then ask them for food or money.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the man’s antics are well known by those working in the area. Shop owners have even called the man out for faking distress in order to milk the sympathy of passers-by.

A clothing store owner, surnamed Lin, said the man appears every week, usually in the evenings.

"He’ll turn up at a specific time and place to 'perform'. If he's not beside a rubbish bin, then he's sitting on a bench along the walkway."

But no matter where he is, his "script" remains the same, said Lin, who described how the man would slowly fall from where he is standing or sitting and wait for kind-hearted passers-by to approach him.

"He'll complain that he's hungry. But he's picky too, sometimes he'll ask for chicken rice and coke."

Others Shin Min spoke to said the man would usually keep aside food that's bought for him and continue to lie down in place, waiting for the next person. He would leave only after someone has given him money.

Lin said she once publicly exposed the man's ruse, only to be at the receiving end of his glares and provocations.

"I told passers-by not to be duped by him, and he glared at me and gave me a thumbs up, as if to sarcastically say I did a good job.”


An employee at a nearby clinic said that every once in a while, they would receive requests to "save" the elderly man.

"Once, the doctor wanted to examine him (but) he refused and pushed the doctor away," she added.

Another vendor said the man's behaviour has also wasted public resources, due to the multiple calls put out to the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

"It happens at least twice a month," said the vendor, adding that police or SCDF personnel would make their way down for naught. 

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