According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Singapore is the most expensive city, what with its high cost of living and inflation.
It would be second nature to think that the world’s most expensive city would have residents who are wealthier than the average man but that is far from the truth.
Choo Kim Guan, the 77-year-old Singaporean man who lives on $450 in public assistance each month, resides in a one-room flat in Jalan Bukit Merah made the news today due to his bedbug-infested home.
It was Fion Phua, a long-time volunteer and founder of private volunteer group Keeping Hope Alive who found out about the man’s situation when the group was making rounds in the area, distributing durians to the residents.
The condition of Choo’s flat was described to be “shocking” as cat droppings and urine from the man’s five cats were found littered all over the flat while human faeces completely clogged up the toilet.
Phua told the Strait Times: “He was eating durian as the bedbugs crawled all over him. What bothered me was not the smell or the bugs. It was seeing a man lose his sense of fear, like he didn’t care anymore.”
With Choo’s permission, Phua and the rest of the volunteers cleaned the 77-year-old’s flat and gave the place a new coat of paint. The bedbugs that were seen scurrying to safety under his old, unwanted belongings were squashed and burned while his toilet underwent some serious scrubbing and unclogging.
The volunteers also helped the now chatty old man shower, comb his hair and trim his nails. In Hokkien, the man told Strait Times: “It’s more airy now. The walls have not been painted for more than 10 years.”
His five cats were also brought to the vet, having suffered numerous bedbug bites while living the flat. Upon the return of his cats, the kindhearted Choo bought fish costing $4 each for his cats while spending only $2 on his own lunch of porridge, tofu, and braised meat. With regards to why he had not cleaned himself for so long, Choo had this to say: “Who says I don’t keep (myself) clean? I wash my shirt every three to four days.”
To many of us who have the means to deal with the high cost of living and inflation in Singapore, having access to clean water and working sanitation facilities are not an issue but for the less fortunate, like Mr Choo Kim Guan, it makes plenty of difference.
All he needed was someone, like Fion Phua, to pay him some attention and to lend him a helping hand every now and then.
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