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The Straits Times
Jan 14, 2022
A video of an elderly man with mobility difficulties struggling to get into a taxi in Yishun has raised concerns among Facebook users and residents in the estate over the senior's safety.
The widely-circulated, nearly two-minute video, which has attracted 80,000 views as at 6pm on Friday (Jan 14), shows the man sitting on the ground beside a traffic light crossing opposite Block 141 Yishun Ring Road, with his belongings next to him on a wooden board with wheels.
As a taxi pulls up alongside him, the man, who is wearing a mask, uses his hands to shuffle slowly towards the vehicle, dragging himself along the ground. With some difficulty, he reaches for the front passenger door and opens it.
At this point, two passers-by and the taxi driver slowly help him get safely into the vehicle.
Residents in the area say the man is a familiar sight.
Mr David Ang, 70, a shop assistant at Teck Hoe provision store in Yishun Ring Road, said: "I have seen him riding the wooden board. He doesn't really talk to his neighbours. When we see him, we think it's so dangerous."
Part-time janitor Jumari Pawiro, 65, who was buying groceries in the area, added: "There is no brake and you can't turn a skateboard easily at his age. If he falls down on his hip bone, it will be very serious."
In a Facebook post on Friday (Jan 14), Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said that the man, whom he identified as Mr Lee, has been receiving assistance since 2015.
The Straits Times understands that Mr Lee is a 78-year-old man who lives in a three-room flat with his wife.
Mr Shanmugam, who is an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said that grassroots organisations, Chong Pang Community Club and Touch Cluster Support have been supporting Mr Lee.
This included getting him a wheelchair using the Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund, which is disbursed by the Agency for Integrated Care. However, Mr Lee does not prefer to use the wheelchair.
Mr Shanmugam said: "Based on our interactions with him, our assessment is that he is independent, and knows his mind."
Instead of the wheelchair, Mr Lee uses the wooden board with wheels to move around, which his neighbour built for him.
In response to queries from ST, Ms Poh Siew Wah, head of Touch Cluster Support, said it has activated its home care services to further support Mr Lee at home.
Touch Cluster Support, a service of Touch Community Services, helps seniors age in place in the neighbourhood.
Ms Poh said: "Our occupational therapist had earlier encouraged Mr Lee to use a wheelchair and prescribed one for him so that he can move around safely in the community. However, he declined.
"Our volunteers and community partners also tried their best to persuade him to use his wheelchair."
She added that due to Mr Lee's condition and for safety reasons, other mobility devices were found to be unsuitable for him.
A Nee Soon resident familiar with Mr Lee's family told ST that food vouchers, weekly groceries and home-fix services have also been made available to him.
Mr Shanmugam, who thanked members of the public for their feedback, said that the associations will continue to provide help and assistance to Mr Lee and his family.