PARL Preview: Seah Kian Peng, Carrie Tan and Murali Pillai on protecting S’pore’s aged parents and adult children with an amended MPA  


Our MPs are looking to provide Singapore’s aged parents with better protection — and adult children as well.

During Parliament this week, they are proposing amendments to the Maintenance of Parents Act (MPA). These will balance how parents and children reciprocate their duty of care to each other. 

“We propose to amend the MPA to enhance the powers of the Tribunal and the Commissioner in ensuring that neglected elderly parents are adequately supported,” said MP Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) previously (May 9) about these proposed amendments, and referring to the legal support for the MPA

At the same time, the amendments will disqualify negligent parents from using the amended MPA against their children. Really, the idea of reciprocity significantly undergirds our MPs’ proposal. 

“We propose to put in place new processes to prevent the misuse of the MPA by parents who have abandoned, abused or neglected their children and that they did not fulfil their parental duties,” said MP Seah, who leads the nine-MP workgroup calling for these amendments. 

Source: Seah Kian Peng / Facebook 

Examining the issue comprehensively 

“After all, if someone is still hurting from childhood ill-treatment by their parents, the last thing he or she needs is to go through any process that suggests they are being unfilial,” said MP Carrie Tan (Nee Soon) about these amendments.  

“That would cause damaging feelings of self-doubt and guilt, or worsen resentment, when they may have spent years trying to move on,” she added. 

Source: Carrie Tan / Facebook 

MP Tan is one of the nine MPs in the MPA workgroup, which also includes Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok SMC), Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman (Marine Parade GRC), Ng Ling Ling (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC), Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson SMC) and Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC). 

The workgroup interfaced with approximately 200 focus group participants, a thousand survey respondents as well as other public and private partners for over a year in order to come up with these amendments.     

Preventing further trauma and targeting problem behaviour

Similarly, MP Murali sees the need for reciprocity and protection.

“We have heard about parents who committed willful criminal acts against their children when they were small — and returned to haunt them for money through the MPA,” he said.

“The Tribunal would not allow such claims currently. However, the children would have to undergo the entire process which includes conciliation and fighting the case against their parents before the Tribunal.”

In fact, children might sometimes simply give up fighting and constantly give money to their negligent parents. The amendments will help avoid these fights and concessions. 

Source: Murali Pillai / Facebook

And if a parent wastes a child’s maintenance money to feed vices?

The amendments will let the Tribunal directly deal with this problem behaviour.

“The Tribunal might have the parent attend counselling for addiction as a condition to him or her receiving maintenance payments,” explained MP Murali. 

Here, the proposed amendments will give the MPA greater nuance when solving family disputes and keep it effective for the future: It was last amended in 2010. 

“We must balance between protecting the child and ensuring the elderly parent can have fair access to justice,” explained MP Seah.  

“We need to be fair to both sides.”