Public should flag concerns about vulnerable people like Annie Ee to authorities: Desmond Lee

Public should flag concerns about vulnerable people like Annie Ee to authorities: Desmond Lee

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee says the public has a crucial role to play in protecting vulnerable people, such as in the case of Annie Ee, who died after being abused by the couple she was living with.

SINGAPORE: Members of the public who suspect something amiss is happening to others, especially vulnerable people such as those with intellectual disabilities and children, should step forward and alert the authorities, said Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 9). 

He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament Dr Lily Neo about whether the death of Annie Ee could have been prevented by providing more assistance to people with intellectual disabilities.

"In this particular instance, we are referring to a case of a person with intellectual disability who went out to work, who went to find employment for herself and to look after herself. The importance of having legislation to protect such persons cannot be further emphasised," he said. 

Mr Lee said there is also the upcoming Vulnerable Adults Bill which will allow the authorities to intervene to protect individuals with physical or mental disabilities, and who cannot protect themselves. 

"But none of this would be effectual unless family members, colleagues, neighbours, passers-by, people who interact and suspect something amiss happening to not just persons with intellectual disability but to persons with disability to children to vulnerable adults, step forward, raise the alarm bells and bring the suspicion to the attention of the authorities," he added. 

For those with no family support or who are estranged from their families, Mr Lee said MSF works with community partners such as the Singapore Police Force, social service officers, Family Service Centres and disability service providers to identify and help them. 

Those who lack the mental capacity to make specific decisions relating to their personal welfare or property and affairs, a personmay be appointed under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) as a proxy-decision maker for that person, he said. 

Mr Lee also said that there are 29 Day Activity Centres where people with disabilities can learn life skills to enhance their independence.

“We will be adding another 200 places this year to increase the availability of such services to persons with disabilities,” he said.

Source: CNA/fs