New laws must protect vulnerable elderly too

I am heartened by the proposed changes to laws to give more protection to the vulnerable (Penal Code review: Proposals aim to better protect vulnerable; Sept 10).

The announcement by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam could not have come at a better time.

But, in addition to minors and adults with disabilities, the vulnerable should include the elderly as well.

There are numerous occasions when the elderly are left entirely in the care of domestic workers. These seniors are invariably senile, infirm and in wheelchairs.

There have been cases of domestic helpers being caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras being violent towards helpless seniors.

These elderly people, some of whom suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia, were unable to report the abuse to their children who had employed these maids.

It was only after suspicions were raised when injuries were seen, and CCTV cameras were installed by the maid employers, that the hideous offences were uncovered.

It is the duty of domestic helpers to care for these elderly people instead of abusing the trust that their employers have placed in them.

To safeguard the interests of the elderly, it is imperative that recalcitrant offenders be dealt with severely by the new laws, which I hope will be implemented soon.

Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'New laws must protect vulnerable elderly too'. Print Edition | Subscribe