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Workgroup set up to review law on maintenance of parents

SINGAPORE — A nine-member workgroup comprising Members of Parliament (MP) has been set up to review legislation which allows elderly or needy parents to seek maintenance from their children if they are unable to support themselves.

Workgroup set up to review law on maintenance of parents
  • A workgroup comprising nine Members of Parliament has been set up to review the Maintenance of Parents Act
  • The Act, which allows elderly or needy parents to seek maintenance from their children, was last amended in 2010
  • One potential gap that the workgroup hopes to address is when parents abuse the Act to seek maintenance from their children
  • It also wants to anticipate instances where the Act could be misused
  • The workgroup will conduct consultations with the public and other stakeholders this month

SINGAPORE — A nine-member workgroup comprising Members of Parliament (MP) has been set up to review legislation which allows elderly or needy parents to seek maintenance from their children if they are unable to support themselves.

The workgroup will conduct consultations with the public this month, before tabling a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Maintenance of Parents Act at the end of this year.

Among the potential gaps in the Act that the review hopes to address is when parents abuse the Act to seek maintenance from their children despite not taking care of them, said Mr Seah Kian Peng, the chairperson of the workgroup.

“(The parents) take them to court and make the children relive or go through this painful and traumatic process. This is certainly something we should try to mitigate, reduce and eliminate, if possible,” Mr Seah told TODAY.

The Act was last amended in 2010 through a Private Member’s Bill tabled in Parliament by Mr Seah, who is also the MP for Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency.

The amendments made it mandatory for the parents to seek conciliation with their children at the Office of the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents before filing for a maintenance order at the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents.

The commissioner is appointed under the Maintenance of Parents Act and helps parents secure monetary contributions from their children through conciliation.

In a press release on Friday (Jan 7), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said that since the amendment, the annual number of cases of elderly parents who eventually filed for maintenance orders at the tribunal dropped from a three-year average of 170 from 2008 to 2010, to 86 from 2011 to 2013.

The number of cases has also remained stable at about 30 cases each year since 2017.

Mr Seah said it is timely to review the Act to see what else can be done to improve its efficacy.

The workgroup also wants to “cast an eye out” and anticipate future instances where the Act could be misused as societal attitudes change, he added.

To this end, the workgroup will conduct focus group discussions and an online survey with the public and other stakeholders this month to identify gaps in the Act that it may not be aware of, said Mr Seah.

Among the groups that the workgroup will solicit feedback from are practitioners at the tribunal, young Singaporeans in their 20s and 30s, those with elderly parents as well as social service organisations and Family Service Centres.

The workgroup will also work with the ministry’s Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships during the review. The alliance is a collaboration between the ministry and community partners.

Mr Seah stressed that the workgroup is going into the consultations with “an open mind” and urged anyone with a view on the Act to participate in focus group discussions.

Members of the public who are keen to participate in the focus group discussions may indicate their interest at the website go.gov.sg/mpafocusgroups.

The online survey will be commissioned this month and the survey company will identify about 1,000 respondents to submit their responses online.

Members of the public who are interested to provide feedback may also email mpa_feedback [at] msf.gov.sg

Related topics

Maintenance of Parents Act parents children MSF

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