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03 Jul 2019
Movement for change
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Helping families to deal with financial stress

You must have read the story of the double murder in Woodlands. The father suffered a severe drop in his income as a property agent and incurred a huge gambling debt. He killed his pregnant wife and young daughter.

What could be done to deal with this kind of problem?

Clearly, the family needed help to deal with the financial crisis and mental health.

Here are some steps that could be taken:

a) The father should seek medical help to deal with the mental health and stress.

b) The father should get legal help to declare bankruptcy to avoid the burden of the gambling debt.

c) The father should be allowed to draw out a monthly allowance to meet the living expenses of the family from a mortgage on his HDB flat or from his CPF account. The current regulations do not allow this kind of withdrawal. These regulations should be changed.

Currently, there is the legal aid department and social workers who provide these assistance. The state should increase the workers to meet the needs of more people who needs the help. The work process should be improved to ensure that the help can be provided more speedily.

Will the proposed measures lead to a morale hazard and get more people into this situation? It might, but the risk is likely to be small and can be managed. We should not allow the fear of this kind of morale hazard force us to continue the rigid thinking and not deal with the problem. 

How many deaths should happen before we take the correct remedial measures?

Tan Kin Lian 

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