Gilbert Goh has done it again. He has magically solved all poverty and displacement issues that exist in Singapore — with the power of 25 bento set meals and a Facebook post featuring a photo of a displaced old man sitting on the ground along a walkway.
Which begs the question — what is Gilbert Goh trying to achieve by doing this?
For starters, 25 bentos is not a lot. That’s 25 displaced individuals that they provided 1 meal to today, at Beach Road. If they really wanted to do this properly, they would have surely been able to afford to purchase a few bento sets out of their pockets to feed a few more people who need it. Not to mention, they would’ve been able to support that F&B outlet, instead of just getting free food from them.
For many displaced individuals in Singapore, food is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems and challenges they face in their lives. There’s usually a lot more to the story, and the reasons behind their displacement. Feeding them for 1 meal on a one-off basis is not a sustainable way of helping them.
Sounds familiar? That’s because it’s been done before. Many times.
In a previous story where a netizen had posted a video in an attempt to smear the image of police officers who were talking to an old lady who wasn’t wearing a mask in public. This was further blown out of proportion by TOC, negatively affecting the old lady and causing distress to her and her family.
However, this isn’t Gilbert Goh’s first attempt at posting pictures of displaced elderly on social media without their permission, in hopes of pulling at netizens’ heartstrings while trying to score some form of karma points on social media. Just less than a month ago, he had posted about a rag-and-bone lady, painting a destitute picture of her plight. For his own benefit, of course.
Without understanding the full situation, he mentioned she was homeless when she actually owned her own HDB flat which was fully paid for. This later received a lot of backlash from netizens on the ground who have been working on sustainable ways to help people like Auntie Koh in this story.
Just yesterday, it was also mentioned in another article from the Straits Times, citing social workers on the topic of helping vulnerable people in society, highlighting that social media posts do sometimes have a negative impact on the rough sleepers’ relationships with their family members and employers. “To have quite personal information published, it brings them distress. They are out in the community and people may look at them differently.”
It’s also worth noting that a mention was made about wrong information being shared about rough sleepers, and how it may cause unnecessary misunderstandings, which could hinder the help being rendered to them. “We do hope when people want to help, they seek the right channels instead of posting on social media. We will help rough sleepers on a case-by-case basis with their needs, whether it is financial assistance or housing,”.
Sharing photos of displaced individuals may cause them more harm than good
In an article shared earlier this month, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling strongly urged the public to refrain from taking photos and videos and posting about their plight on social media in attempt to help them.
In one of her responses in parliament on measures to assist the likes of cardboard collectors, beggars and rough sleepers in the community, she shared: ”The most appropriate and effective way to help is to introduce and direct these vulnerable people to an officer from the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) social service offices so that professional aid can be given”.
Specifically, on the sharing of videos of photos of vulnerable people, Ms Sun highlighted: “When you put up a video or you put up a photo, apart from the fact that you might be infringing on the privacy as well as the confidentiality of the vulnerable person, sometimes you may be bringing unwanted attention to the vulnerable person.” Adding to that, she also mentioned that doing so may not lead to better outcomes for the person and might worsen family relationships, which could be the underlying reason for the vulnerable person’s plight.