The public's role in highlighting a video showing a woman slapping her mother is appreciated but the "public trial" of the woman's family has been harsh, said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Singapore's 20th social service office in Yishun, he described the public furore sparked by the video as a "public jury or trial of the individuals concerned".
The video, which was filmed and posted by a neighbour, Mr Mohammad Juani, has been viewed more than 790,000 times since Monday. It has also received hundreds of comments, many of which were severely critical of the daughter.
Mr Tan, speaking to reporters, said: "Truth be told, because of the intense public scrutiny, and we understand why, there is a lot of pressure on the family. It has been very stressful, and it's not easy."
But what is circulated on social media is not always accurate. "Sometimes, details may be half-accurate or inaccurate," he added.
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There are Singaporeans in troubled circumstances that we don't always see... I think it is important that we don't underestimate how important our roles as citizens are.
SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT MINISTER TAN CHUAN-JIN, on the role of citizens
It is "not appropriate for various members of the public to chip in and criticise one particular party, or canvass for particular actions, or call for people to visit them", he said. "It will be helpful if some of the scrutiny is mitigated to some degree," added Mr Tan. He urged people to focus instead on high-lighting other areas of concern in their communities.
The case, which involves a 25-year-old woman and her 58-year-old mother, is being investigated by the police as well as the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
"When appropriate and suitable, we will make sure there will be updates for the public, who remain concerned about this," said Mr Tan. Yesterday, he also urged members of the public to help identify anyone who may need help as "there are Singaporeans in troubled circumstances that we don't always see".
"I think it is important that we don't underestimate how important our roles as citizens are," he said, adding that social service offices help the public play their part.
The new social service office, located at Block 746, Yishun Street 72, will cater to more than 1,800 residents in the area. It will work with community partners to coordinate social services and identify those who may need help.
The target is to have 24 social service offices by the end of the year. This will give at least 95 per cent of needy residents access to social services within 2km of where they live and work. Sembawang residents, for instance, can expect one to open in their area next month. The new office in Yishun will also run a pilot project for the needy to get free provisions, starting with 10 individuals and families from September .