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The plight of a 75-year-old senior citizen who earned a mere $3.10 after collecting cardboard all night is tugging Singaporeans’ heartstrings online.

The elderly cardboard collector’s story was shared online by Happy People Helping People (HPHP), a non-profit community organisation that is dedicated to helping the elderly who cannot find proper jobs to make ends meet. Providing the elderly with basic necessities like daily meals, money to pay their bills and monthly outings, HPHP spreads awareness on the elderly poor – many of whom work as cardboard or used can collectors to survive.

HPHP had organised a fundraiser for elderly cardboard collectors that was set to take place today (14 Dec) but the event was abruptly cancelled after the police informed them that they needed to apply for a police permit under the Public Order Act.

HPHP had been planning the fundraising event for several weeks now and had invited all the political parties in Singapore to join elderly cardboard collectors in a guided activity to raise money for these needy senior citizens.

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While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was among the parties that had been invited to participate, only the Singapore Democratic Party, the Progress Singapore Party, the Reform Party and the People’s Power Party had pledged to take part in the fundraiser.

At 8.48pm on Friday (13 Dec), however, HPHP revealed that it has been forced to cancel the event due to the police permit issue. It said:

“It is unfortunate that we have to cancel this event tomorrow because the police did not want us to do this without a permit. And they told us yesterday night. We wonder why at the very last minute.”

There is a minimum period of 14 days for the application of a public assembly permit to be approved or rejected. It is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act to take part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit.

Instead of staying home, the HPHP team and their volunteers visited elderly cardboard collectors in Toa Payoh and helped them in their work. One of the senior citizens they assisted was a 75-year-old who ended up earning a mere $3.10 after he spent the night before collecting a tall stack of cardboard.

Wearing a rain poncho, the senior citizen told HPHP volunteers how he needs to use the road to transport his trolley – which is stacked so high with cardboard that it partially obscures his view of the path ahead – to the collection point since the sidewalk is not level and his cardboard boxes may fall off his trolley.

The chatty senior citizen commented about how he leads a “hard life” and that he is not allowed to keep his trolley and boxes in the corridor of his flat or he would risk getting a “summons” from the authorities.

HPHP said that the stack of cardboard boxes the senior citizen spent all night collecting earned him $3.10.

We bumped into this 75 year old Uncle pushing his huge stack of boxes in the rain. He can barely see the road in front of him because of the height of his load. He’s one of the most friendly, funny and chatty Uncle from Toa Payoh. We had a good chat with him on the way to the collection point. When asked why he did not use the pavement, he said the pavement’s ground not level and his boxes may fall off his trolley. This stack of cardboard boxes that he collected earns him $3.10.

Posted by Happy People Helping People Community on Friday, 13 December 2019

Earlier, HPHP reported that the selling price of used cardboard has dropped to a mere four cents per kilogram.

Sharing a photo of a trio of elderly cardboard collectors in Ang Mo Kio comparing their meager collections with concern, HPHP also published a picture of a receipt that shows one of the cardboard collectors was paid 25 cents for collecting seven kgs of cardboard.

Elderly cardboard collectors concerned as cardboard selling price drops to a mere 4 cents per kg

Elderly Singaporean works an entire day to collect 300kgs of cardboard, only to earn $30

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