Who guards the bodyguard? The ethics of care for older adults

Heaps of abandoned furniture, clothes and crockery strewn under the blocks in Dakota Crescent as a result of residents' hurried attempts to meet the Dec 31, 2016 moving out deadline.
Heaps of abandoned furniture, clothes and crockery strewn under the blocks in Dakota Crescent as a result of residents' hurried attempts to meet the Dec 31, 2016 moving out deadline.ST FILE PHOTO

In this essay, a cultural anthropologist looks at the help given to Tong, a resident at Dakota who is being resettled, and reflects on what the case says about the way help is given to the elderly and the poor in Singapore.

Tong honours the legacy of the late Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew by placing their photographs at the entrance to his old Dakota flat. Will the photographs survive the move to his new, but much smaller, residence?

Once a bodyguard to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 90-year-old Tong's contributions to nation-building have not gone unnoticed. Together with more than 450,000 of his contemporaries born before 1950, he forms the Pioneer Generation currently entitled to additional healthcare subsidies.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 07, 2019, with the headline 'Who guards the bodyguard? The ethics of care for older adults'. Print Edition | Subscribe