Singaporeans Ask For Leniency Over Parking Of PMAs In Malls
Two days ago, an elderly couple at Ang Mo Kio (AMK) Hub cut their lunch short after a run-in with a security guard.
The 86-year-old man and 75-year-old woman abandoned their meal to move their Personal Mobility Aids (PMAs), after hearing that they weren’t allowed to park inside the mall.
Since the story broke, Singaporeans have expressed a myriad of emotions and opinions, from the highly concerned to the overtly rational.
Those belonging to the second camp raised obstruction issues and potential accidents.
Meanwhile, others — like a few MS News readers — highlighted that Singaporeans could afford to show more empathy for the lesser abled.
PMA user faced similar parking issue at AMK Hub
One of these individuals, who prefers to be anonymous, shared her similar experience at the neighbourhood mall.
She revealed that she too drives a mobility scooter due to walking restrictions.
Recounting her first-hand experience at AMK Hub, she told MS News that she had chosen a “corner” in the mall to park. At the time, she was not aware that she couldn’t park in the mall.
30 minutes later, a security guard confronted her, allegedly saying that her device could be towed and she, fined.
While she took issue with the guard’s demeanour, she also expressed that some malls may even ask users to park their devices in the car park. They’d then have to walk to the mall.
“Is this a car?” she asked. “Please show some empathy to senior users.”
While the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has regulations in place for PMAs on shared outdoor paths, there are no clear disclaimers for user conduct in malls.
Some shopping centres like Suntec Singapore, however, make it clear that they welcome accessibility devices.
MS News has reached out to AMK Hub for their stance on the matter.
Regulation of PMAs should be more flexible in malls
One anonymous reader also expressed their shock and disappointment at the way the security guards handled the situation.
She then noted that the guard had interrupted the elderly couple’s lunch.
“There should be some discretion in situations like this,” she continued.
Likewise, a Facebook user echoed her sentiments. While they acknowledged that the guard was “on the ball”, he should have allowed them to finish their meal.
“Show more compassion when necessary,” opined the commenter.
Meanwhile, more than one reader brought attention to the growing needs of Singapore’s ageing population.
Their sentiments echoed what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned earlier this year — where he cited that about one in six Singaporeans were aged 65 and older in 2020.
For the elderly who have retired, spending all their spare time cooped up at home will not do their mental and physical health any good.
As such, “there must be some flexibility in the already rigid standing orders that are being implemented by many organisations”, said one reader.
They then urged the authorities to consider isolated cases such as the recent incident.
According to Statista, the elderly aged 65 years old and above will make up 22.5% of Singapore’s population in 2030.
In 2050, the percentage is forecasted to increase to 33.3%.
Hence, looking at the data, Singapore may have no choice but to be more inclusive in the decades to come.
Allowing PMA parking in malls might open a can of worms
However, accommodating a burgeoning aging population may lead to a whole new set of problems.
With more elderly citizens using PMAs, malls may face a crowding issue, said MS News reader Richmond.
One or two PMDs parking outside a restaurant may be still ok but what if it is a row of six or more, can you imagine the crowded scenarios of its entrance being blocked with multiple PMDs?
Allowing a few PMA users to park inside a mall may then lead to a snowball effect.
One Facebook user asked Singaporeans to imagine a scenario where malls are packed with PMAs.
They raised the issue of overcrowding, fire hazards, and potential injuries from collisions.
“What they can do is put their mother [in] a wheelchair instead,” suggested the user.
How do we make Singapore a more inclusive place?
A wheelchair may be the common-sense alternative to a PMA. However, some old folks do not have caretakers and may be living alone.
Last year, there were 79,000 seniors aged 65 years old and above living alone in Singapore.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) only expects this number to rise as the nation’s population ages and household sizes decrease.
In that scenario, who will be the ones to push them from place to place? PMAs would be necessary then to fulfil their basic needs.
If we think harder, there are perhaps more compassionate solutions.
In the case of parking indoors, shopping malls could work to set aside designated parking spots on some levels. Doing so would be akin to providing handicap toilets for visitors who need them.
The malls’ management could also train staff on how to navigate such issues with the elderly in a civil manner.
These are but a few ideas, however. What’s clear is that Singapore can improve to be a kinder and more accepting place to live.
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