New law allowing State to step in to protect vulnerable adults likely to be passed next year

A new law to protect vulnerable adults such as the disabled or elderly who are abused or abandoned is likely to be passed next year, said Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Thursday. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
A new law to protect vulnerable adults such as the disabled or elderly who are abused or abandoned is likely to be passed next year, said Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Thursday. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - A new law to protect vulnerable adults such as the disabled or elderly who are abused or abandoned is likely to be passed next year, said Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Thursday.

The new law will give powers to the State or its representatives to intervene in cases where harm is likely to befall an individual.

Deputies will be appointed by the State to act in the best interests of the vulnerable adult if he or she has no kin. The deputy, to be drawn from a pool of "public spirited" individuals, will be able to manage the individual's assets to take care of him.

In addition, social workers will be empowered to have the rights to enter a person's house if he or she is suspected to be a victim of abuse or a chronic hoarder to investigate. Thereafter, the social workers may put them in places of safety. Professionals will also be given legal provisions to deal with those who refuse to go for checkups or seek treatment despite failing physical or psychological health.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a dialogue with social workers, Mr Chan explained the need for the new law: "As we look forward to the future, we know that the number of elderly will be increasing rapidly and by 2030, we may have up to 900,000 elderly."

"We are concerned that in time to come there might be increasing number of vulnerable adults who are not able to care for themselves or people who are unable to make judgement for their own well-being."