Saturday, October 10, 2015

A story about tissue paper sellers in Singapore

A reporter from The New Paper is working on a story about tissue paper sellers in Singapore and he posted me the question below:

"Most of the tissue paper sellers in train stations or in hawker centres are unlicensed, and generally they are still allowed to carry on selling without a license by the authorities. While this means that the disabled/elderly can sell their tissue packets easily, it also complicates the issue because that means just about anyone can get to sell. Some are saying that it becomes a sort of glorified way of begging, that there is no way to tell the difference between those who need help and those who are just cashing in on this. There are quite a number of foreigners who are doing this too, and some are concerned that the money isn't going to people who need the help.

As a voluntary welfare organization that helps to provide support for the elderly and the poor, I am keen to find out what Happy People thinks about this. Do you think more can be done so that these people do not have to turn to tissue paper selling to earn money?"

My replies are as follow:

I feel that it's good that the authorities did not impose a need for license for tissue paper sellers as the disabled/elderly can sell their tissue packets easily without any issue. It is definitely a better sight than to see such disabled/elderly begging on the streets, as they are considered making a living for themselves through their own efforts.

Probably one way that the authorities can support the actual people who needs help, is to provide these group of people a special banner/lanyard to indicate that these are the people who really need help and the public should lend a helping hand by buying something from them. Its a better way to indicate the needy rather than imposing a need for license for all, and as for those people who are just cashing in on this, it's up to the individual of the public to exercise the right judgement.

As the founder of Happy People, I think that there is definitely more can be done for these people. Most likely, most tissue sellers have the mindset that they can work as and when they want when they sell tissue, and would prefer a flexible job similar to this if they were to make a switch. Perhaps, government can provide a benefit for employers who specifically hire these people to work. Charity and voluntary welfare organisation can also hire these people to help out in their daily administrative task.

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