Voices

Help with social, financial matters widely available

From

Ahmad Firdaus Daud

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Published: 4:00 AM, March 21, 2017

I refer to the report “Man stole copper wires from mall over two years” (March 8). The man in question has not yet been sentenced, so I will not comment on his case.

As a criminal defence lawyer, I have met clients in similar situations, who felt that they had to resort to criminal activities to make ends meet or cope with acute expenses.

When I asked if they had looked for social or financial assistance, many replied that they had not and explained that they either did not know where to look or felt that no one would help them. That is unfortunate.

I urge anyone in such situations to first approach their Member of Parliament or seek help at the social service office, community centre or Community Development Council in their constituency.

Help can come in many forms. For example, there are grassroots schemes that provide immediate assistance for emergencies. Hospitals have social workers who can assist if someone is struggling with crippling medical expenses.

If one requires legal assistance with criminal charges, one can apply to the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme’s Pro Bono Services Office on the fifth floor of the State Courts.

For family, probate and civil issues, one can seek help at the Legal Aid Bureau on the seventh floor of The URA Centre (East Wing).

The rest of us also have a role to play. If we know of someone in dire circumstances, we can help to link up that person with a relevant entity in our social support system.

I am not suggesting that our social service infrastructure can solve all our social ills and prevent crime. That would be naive. My intention is only to spread a reminder to those who may be unaware or have forgotten that help can be available.