Our homeless sleeping in public places


Last Fri late at night, I was at a coffee shop near to Blk 58 Hawker Centre New Upp Changi Rd. It’s my usual habit to have a coffee after work before I return home and call it a day. I usually read, surf the net or blog whilst quietly enjoying my drink.

The fact that our little piece of rock is inundated with millions of foreigners to the tune of 38% of local population has mortified whatever little space we have. It’s always crowded everywhere – trains, buses, roads, parks, hospitals and coffee shops of course. Sometimes, I have to share tables with others even though there are few coffee shops and a hawker centre in the vicinity.

That’s why I prefer the late shift where there is not much crowd so that I could have my own private quiet moment in my favorite corner at a coffee shop sipping my coffee.

Last Fri night as I was leaving the coffee shop after my sojourn, I suddenly noticed that there was a surge in the homeless sleeping on the benches at the concrete shade. It was about 1am. A quick count showed more than 10 persons sleeping there. Their ages ranging from early 40s to 70s.




Most of them carried a bag and used it as headrest. They didn’t look like foreign workers. They appeared to be locals. I believe this scenario is repeated all over our country. Just go to the Chinatown Buddha Tooth Relic temple vicinity, there is much more there but those are elderly folks living nearby.

I believe there are two types of homeless sleeping in public places. Those who have got a flat but choose to sleep in a public place vs those who are really homeless who have no choice but to sleep in a public place.




I was told that in Japan, there are throngs of elderly Japanese who choose to sleep in the subways and public areas. There is even cardboard for rent provided. Reason being that those elderly leave their tiny home in the night so that their children could have more room and privacy with their wives. Thus, the tiny flat is used by their children at night and the elderly parents return in the morning to occupy the flat when their children go to work!

We are talking about Japan – the most advanced country in the world still having throngs of elderly ‘homeless’ sleeping in the subways for this reason. It’s due to the expensive costs of their tiny flats. It’s quite common in Japanese cities. It’s quite an accepted norm. Question is will it also become a norm here? What do you think?

What about other first world countries? There is much more in the big US and European cities. I was told by Uncle Bodo that in Germany – one of the richest in EU, there is always lots of homeless unemployed Germans. The German welfare state pays every unemployed citizen about $500 Euro – which is more than S$1,000 per month. Further more, there are many charity organizations running soup kitchen where free meals are easily available. The typical unemployed German is usually not married, no home and refuses to work. He uses the handouts by the state mainly for his alcohol.

The above fact related by my German friend Uncle Bodo is indeed shocking. But here in Singapore, we know that it’s never easy to receive handouts from the government. Before the government disburses any fund to any needy citizen, they screen the recipient and his family upside down and inside out! It won’t be easy to get a decent handout from this government but they are willing to splash money on vanity purchases like the recent $2,200 foldable bicycles! One of my readers commented that this is tantamount to “puay kay!”


To summarize, as a dutiful and concerned citizen, I’ve reported on what I witnessed last Fri night at New Upper Changi Rd. Ironically, the powerful PAP HQ is just a walking distance from that place I reported. They are in charge of this country’s destiny. Hopefully, our future PM who is now in-charge of social community affairs will get to the bottom of this social phenomenon which doesn’t augur well for us being the 3rd richest country on earth.

Click here to read the report.

Sometimes, as citizens we are afraid to bring up issues or problems cuz they will give us more headaches. For example, when we brought up shortage of night parking in HDB estates, our great MBT simply increased night parking from $2 to $4! If that is the case even I also can do that. No need them to solve our night parking problem. Really langgar!

As far as the homeless is concerned – whether they’ve got a home or not, please don’t follow what China has done! Pls read the news report below. That is not the way to solve our homeless sleeping in public places.

Click here to read the full story.

Click here to read related article here.





About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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49 Responses to Our homeless sleeping in public places

  1. jack says:

    Too bad about Japan, China,Europe and. US.We in Spore are the pioneers after independent.We had the opportunities off cheap houses,land and flats.The opport opportunities were there buying hdb flats at dirt cheap price and selling it at soaring high price.what we did with the capital gain is the problem.Spending $100k for renovation was considered mediocre and holidays were a culture.Even those who could just afford honeymoon in genting,took a second one in Europe or at least Australia.So hard cash exchange.hand and hard cash for future use are splurged on vanity and excessive.So we expect those that deprived themselves of the luxuries to sponsor the big time spenders?Remember those days where giving birth in Mount Elizabeth or Gleanagle Hospital was the in thing.Do we expect those who went to KK or NUH Hospital sponsor them in their twillight years

    • Agreed. But that is a general stmt. That’s one of the main reasons why in our early yrs as pointed by your good self is the fact that the PAP was able to win convincingly one GE after another GE even scoring 100% for 20 over yrs explains its current diminishing support. We are realistic about the current reality. We don’t expect generous handouts like in Germany nor do we expect dirt cheap housing in that bygone era. But at least alleviate some of the social problems instead of ‘puay kay,’ given the fact that it’s impossible to eradicate poverty. Hope you see the bigger picture.

      • AttCch says:

        “A worker earning $1,000 a month (and many do earn this much) would save at least $400 every month: $200 from his salary and $200 from a matching employer’s contribution.  Their investment in housing has paid off because the average flat has trebled in value over the past 10 years.”

        “There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in Singapore.  Poverty has been eradicated, not through an entitlements program (there are virtually none) but through a unique partnership between the government, corporate citizens, self-help groups and voluntary initiatives.”

        Following Singapore’s lead on the road of development
        Earth Times
        January 15, 2001


  2. the singaporean from Perth says:

    The spikes in China do not work. All they need is a piece of waste plank from the industry areas and they have a bed. Looks like China has their fair share of idiots wasting tax-payers’ money implementing ideas to display their stupidity and their unwillingness to solve problems at the root.

    • Agreed. Officially, there are about 200 million homeless in Chinese cities! We are such a tiny country with a population of only 5.2 million. You can just imagine the magnitude of their social problem! Will it cause social anarchy or unrest? Is it a big time bomb ticking away? That is a cause for concern.

    • Hisoashuang says:

      I agree. In fact, having spikes is good because when you lay a plank across, you get an elevated bed, and when it rains, your bed remains dry! I hope the PAP lay out spikes on open space to encourage us to sleep outdoors!

  3. Michio Takeo says:

    Are you able to cite specific and verifiable research data and references pertaining to homelessness in Japan? As a researcher I go by facts only, not hearsay.

    • Can you also provide me with facts and figures that God or gods exist in this world? I also do not believe in heresy. Pls convince me that there is God by giving me the hard facts and figures. Better still show me how our God look like. I’m not against God. I’m just curious if it could be scientifically proven beyond all doubts.
      My fren SM Chia who is an ardent admirer of Japan and having been there 8 times related to me this social phenomenon in Japan. I hope it’s not true. I would like to believe that there is no such thing as homelessness in Japan. Maybe you could cite some authority to enlighten me?

      • FN Hing says:


        Why adopt such a belligerent tone to a perfectly legitimate question asked by the Prof? You are completely illogical here. Are you trying to confirm that logical thinking is completely beyond you?

        • Oh I see. That reader is a professor? I don’t know. I humbly apologize here if I offend anybody. I regret for my “belligerence.”. I didn’t even realize it until you pointed it to me. I’m so sorry. Pls don’t take it to heart.

          • FN Hing says:

            Oh so if it’s just any other reader you can behave like a thug?

          • Nop. I’m not a thug. Sorry if you feel that way. I didn’t insult anybody. If you are sensitive and can’t take it when someone hits back at you then pls do yourself a favor don’t comment. Despite my apology you still want me to shed more blood just to appease your hurt ego? Let’s not get personal. If it’s true you just can’t reason or explain it away. Fact is that unlike you I didn’t call ppl by name.

        • Expensive Price says:

          Seen this many times during my visits – just be coincidental that Japanese like to sleep outdoors without heaters during winter – beyond these empirical observations – some irrelevant academic facts from Govt ministries…..

          Last year the Ministry of Welfare announced that officially one in six Japanese lived in poverty. Thus, 21 million Japanese out of the total population of 128 million officially live in poverty, one of the highest rates among the developed countries of the world. With the continued stagnating economy the number of Japanese living in official poverty might go up even more. 4 5 6 Most of these 21 million living in poverty still have one or more jobs and a roof above their heads. The ones living in ‘true’ poverty are the ones living in the tent camps in parks in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Yogogi, Ueno, and the numerous other parks in greater Tokyo. But that is a side of Japanese society we in the West will probably never see in movies and television shows.

          Japan: Living in Sanya, Tokyo : http://www.rscjinternational.org/en/edchalls-notshown-4/131-content/1971-japan-living-in-sanya-tokyo.html
          Sanya: A travel guide to Tokyo’s coolest ghetto : http://www.japantoday.com/category/travel/view/sanya-a-travel-guide-to-tokyo’s-coolest-ghetto
          An article about the homeless in Tokyo with special attention for Sanya: http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/homeless-tokyo-real-story-926548
          One in six Japanese living in poverty: survey : http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hT_bXvi0R7kJPuft8LSyfjcqt-aQ
          Japan Tries to Face Up to Growing Poverty Problem : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/world/asia/22poverty.html
          One in six people in Japan are now ‘poor’ : http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/poverty-japan-approaches-one-six-158714

          Enough to assume the Japanese have a deep shit problem like us except there no official homelessness since we have the highest rate of home ownership

          • Thks for the good references. Really appreciate.

          • WS Chia says:

            There is no doubt there are people sleeping out in the open in Japan but is this the reason: “Reason being that those elderly leave their tiny home in the night so that their children could have more room and privacy with their wives.”?

          • If that is not the main reason, may I know what’s the real reason? Is it due to poverty or high costs of housing beyond their reach? Are we going towards that norm? Will we end up like them? What do you think?

      • Darling says:

        Well, i remembered vividly that Channel News Asia did broadcast about the homeless in Japan, Us and Europe. It was shown a FEW TIMES, included in the Programme were scences shot in Winter and free meal and shelter.

        Me had seen homeless people while abroad myself and had never failed to relate them to the homeless locals. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the homeless seemed to be much luckier than the homeless Singaporeans. Most did have many places to rest and take shelter without harassment from the people at large and the authority.

        One aspect that causes me to wonder is why are these people are not in the vast villages in their countries to do their living? I think these people are liked domesticated caged animal that just do not know how to survive once out of the cage with no more food supply. I suspect that most want to remain in the city because they do not know how to build their own shelter and produce their own food and water anymore. The other thing is that the many people in the city mean more handouts can be had. Poor humans who have lost their animal instincts are liked machines that had to be serviced otherwise kaput straight away.

        In any case, me was told by a Bruneian friend that there are no homeless people in Brunei.

        In Singapore, if the Authority carries out its’ duty, we should not be having homeless folks too for as far as I know, it is an offence to sleep in Public Places. Do correct me if I am mistaken or wrong in stating so.


        • Yup. It’s an offence to sleep in the park or any public places. At least those big countries, got villages to go back to. Here, we don’t have.

  4. Michio Takeo says:

    Forget it, this man is incapable of sound reasoning. Very disappointing.

  5. Pingback: Daily SG: 23 July 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  6. tarik nafas ... says:


    i don’t think this “Michio Takeo” is the real professor. Firstly Japanese are very polite even if they disagree with you they will go about it politely. And secondly, his rough 11:54 posting does not reflect the hallmark of a learned academic.

    i agree there is no need to resort to name calling. Thanks Gin 🙂 for this blog.

    • Tarik,
      Thank you for speaking up for me. I welcome opposing views. I can accept disagreements. All views are welcomed. But u detest name calling and insults.

  7. Possible. That is why I say they need to investigate and get to the bottom of this growing social phenomenon.

    • agongkia says:

      Maybe this time you will cause them to be really homeless or poorer.

      • That’s what I was worried abt when I was writing this article. I did mention that when we seek for help from the government, they give us more heartache. I quoted the night parking incident. Let’s pray for them.

  8. musingsofasingaporeretiree says:

    Perhaps the unemployed or unemployable locals rented out their HDB apartments and sleep on the benches at night. In the day, they will bathe in the community centre and forage for food at the food courts

    • Darling says:

      Another possibility is the hot and humid weather, sleeping at the void deck and other open spaces is much cooler.
      They have to beware of mozzies as Dengue Fever is on the rage.


      • As a matter of fact, I saw those ppl sleeping at that place scratching and slapping mosquitoes! I could even hear the buzzing mozzies feasting on them.

  9. Bian Lian says:

    Strange isn’t it that locals sleep in public places while those foreign trash sleeps in airconditioned comfort in their condos. We are not only displaced of a job but a proper bed as well.

  10. agongkia says:

    One thing I observe is that those places that they sleep usually have hawker centres nearby selling food at affordable and reasonable prices.Places with more people sleeping means I can get cheaper food there.Orchard got less people sleeping so I cannot afford to eat there.
    So more people sleeping in public places mean more places selling cheap food and may not necessary mean its a bad thing.They help to bring down the cost of food which benefit poor peasant like me.

    Many reasons that they landed sleeping there .Dun always blame our Great Garmen for not doing enough.Some of those Ah Pek have children earning million dollars salary but refuse to stay with them.
    Go and ask how million dollar salary men stay with their parent or let their parent stay with them .

    • So you prefer to see even more ppl sleeping on public places? Langgar!

      • agongkia says:

        Since there are more people seen sleeping in public places,and instead of painting a bad image of our country,there is a better way of handling the situation and can save face at the same time .
        That is to allow sleeping in public places and not to make it punishable by law.
        Maybe we can even have a campaign to encourage locals to sleep in public places to tell the world that WE ARE SAFE.
        It can result in more visitors spending money here.No one will then complain Garmen not doing enough.Me can also suka suka sleep anywhere in the park,Gor Kah Kee ,as and when I like .
        Make sleeping in public places something usual here and not something unusual.Why must everyone stay in flats.Give some freedom and allow one to pitch tents and sleep
        where they like.
        Like that ,we can have more happier citizen and maybe a higher percentage of supporters.

  11. Princess says:

    Most of the time, homeless people are made up of schizophrenic patients who prefer to be gallavanting & sleeping outside instead of being stuck at home. Some may also be true blue alcoholics who have been rejected by families. Sometimes, it is not fair to blame the Government for this group of homeless folks. People can call Destitute Persons Service: Hotline: 1800-2220000 if you feel that the situation is worsening. There is a gazetted destitute home in Singapore at Pelangi Village

    • Actually I’m not blaming the govt. Some are alcoholic but not all. I didn’t blame the govt. I merely reported it and urged the govt to look into it. That’s all I say in my article. I saw it and I reported it with pics and exact location. Investigation shld be carried out. Let’s not assume anything.

      • Princess says:

        Sorry if my reply sounded as if I was blaming you. I wasn’t referring to you (Sorry!) but just a general statement about people blaming the authorities. This is the danger of writing online and posting it. Comments can so easily be miscontrued. Thanks for sharing this article in your blog.

        • Thks for your comments. You are entitled to your own views. I just highlight it for general awareness and discussion. No malicious intent. No worry.

    • AttCch says:

      Does the government have enough homes for the destitute? Or is it just musical chairs?

      • Princess says:

        There will never be enough Homes as our population ages. You are not wrong to say that sometimes it may be just musical chairs. Sometimes, families also want the easy way out; to let the elderly stay in the nursing home than at home because they may be burned out looking after them or that they have to work. Institutionalization will always have to be the last resort. When all else fails, including community services, then will the elderly be referred for nursing home placements.

        • AttCch says:

          My concern is that the needy get bumped off the chair while they still need it.

          • Your concern is justifiable. I can understand. We all do. Let’s hope our government can do more for them. I’ve highlighted the problem here. Hope they will take note. This problem will get worse if nothing is done. I’m sure their Internet squad is reading this. Thks.

  12. Alan says:

    Some of those found sleeping in our public areas may be working here (legally or illegally) in daily paid jobs and trying to save an extra dollar here and there because termporary lodging is so expensive here. They may hail from neighbouring cities like JB & Batam.

    So long as they are not disturbing or harming anyone, we should leave them alone. Live and let live.

  13. Darling says:

    Many of the poor had explicitly expressed their fears
    of help from their rulers.


  14. anonymous says:


    You saw the news above? If you are interested, this is what i’ve gathered from a colleague who’s going through it and one simple way to ease all the pain.

    Most HDB flats under renovate have 2 bathroom, one in the kitchen and the other in the master bedroom. HDB had decided to renovate both at the same time by
    1. providing portable toilets to those affect
    2. providing communal toilets at the ground level.

    Both are good efforts, only that:
    1. portable toilets – are smelly and sometimes leaks water
    2. communal toilets – are inconvenient to the elderly and probably pregnant ladies.
    3. since the kitchen and main bedroom is under renovation, no place to store all the barang barang.

    Again to stress, both are good efforts, cost money and have above disadvantages.
    Some people actually use toilets of relatives living nearby instead.

    Simple way to solve;
    Renovate only one toilet at a time, leaving the other toilet available for the household since both toilet are NOT connected, therefore should be implementable.

    For example, renovate the kitchen toilet for the entire block first. Upon completion, then renovate the main bedroom toilet. I suspect many will actually appreciate such arrangements and its saves money. Only the contractor will not prefer as they have less to provide (no more charging for portable toilet and communal toilet) and more work arrangements since you have to finish a column of flats (kitchen toilet) and revisit it again (main bedroom toilet) since there are more shifting of materials/machineries.

    Makes sense?

    • agongkia says:

      I suppose you are talking about HIP.Your idea is good but this may only cause more inconvenience to the house owner as the contractor need to visit twice just for the toilet.The supply of portable and ground toilet is for the convenience of those whose toilet is being renovated.Some resident may even tend to abuse it and I would not reveal how they are advantaged.So if I am the contractor,it may help me to cut cost if I dun have to supply those temp.toilet so your guessing may not be correct.
      The only inconvenience is that you just need someone to be present at home for few days for the purpose of security.You can even arrange to have your house renovated without being at home .Go for a holiday and come back with a renovated flat.
      Your friend should be fortunate that he can afford a flat and also got his house renovated at a special price.There are many who do not have a roof .
      Learn to appreciate.

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