"For some Singaporeans, growing old means living across the Causeway - in a nursing home in Johor Baru.
Home operators there say about 10 percent of their clients are now Singaporeans and they are getting more enquiries from Singapore families.
Many moved their seniors or disabled relatives up north, citing more affordable care"
- TNP, 11 Jul 2012[Link]
The facts are very simple. Even with govt subsidy, the fees for nursing homes in Johor are much lower than one in Singapore. Many Singaporean families are under strain financially - we have 440,000 low income workers who qualify for Workfare to supplement their income because it is very difficult for them to make ends meet. The rising cost of living has pushed some Singaporeans to make painful choices.
It is best for our loved ones especially those who are old and those who are disabled to stay close to us so that we can visit them often and support them emotionally. The quality of a society can be judged by how we treat our old and sick. It is very easy to blame individuals for their lack of filial piety but why would Singaporeans be less filial than people of other countries? People in Malaysia. Australia, New Zealand and Canada don't send their elderly to other countries.
The problem in Singapore is the burden that families have to shoulder relative to their income. The PAP govt has kept taxes for the richest segment of society low by shifting the responsibility of caring for the sick, old and disabled from govt to Singapore families. The large income gap and high cost of living results in enormous strain on a large segment of the population who are pushed to take up these painful options.
We have a system in which it is common to see the elderly doing menial jobs instead of enjoying their golden years. When they are weak, some of them are sent to nursing homes in a foreign country away from their loved ones to spend the last days of their lives. It is hard to reconcile all this with our extravagant defense spending, massive reserves and the fact that we have the highest number of millionaires per capita[Link]. These extremes are the outcomes of years of unbalanced policy making.