1 A Workgroup has been formed to review the Maintenance of Parents Act (MPA). Led by Member of Parliament (MP) for Marine Parade GRC, Mr Seah Kian Peng, the nine-member Workgroup comprising MPs, seeks to further strengthen the MPA to better meet the needs of our elderly and community. The Workgroup will consult the public and stakeholders through a series of focus group discussions and an online survey in January. These will culminate in the tabling of a Private Member’s Bill to amend the MPA, targeted at the end of 2022. Please refer to Annex A for the full list of the Workgroup members.
2 The MPA serves to provide elderly persons, who are unable to maintain themselves adequately, with a legal channel to seek maintenance from their children. The Act was last amended in 2010, through a Private Member’s Bill tabled in Parliament by Mr Seah. The key amendment was to establish a conciliation-first approach to resolve maintenance disputes. Since March 2011, it is mandatory for the elderly to seek conciliation with their children at the Office of the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents (CMP) prior to filing for a maintenance order at the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents.
3 The conciliation approach has seen positive results – the yearly 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), and has remained stable at about 30 cases each year since 2017. The decline can be attributed to the enhanced conciliation process at CMP, which has achieved a settlement rate of about 90% out of over 2,000 applications received since March 2011.
Review for MPA Amendments
4 As over a decade has passed since the last MPA amendment, a further review would be timely and necessary to ensure continued efficacy of the Act. Reiterating this, Mr Seah said: “The Maintenance of Parents Act provides a safety net for a small category of needy and neglected parents to claim maintenance from their children, when filial piety fails. From my interactions with families over the years, I am happy to note that most children support their elderly parents out of love and appreciation towards them. But there is a small number who do not, for various reasons. The Act, which was last amended in 2010, has enabled deserving parents to secure the needed maintenance from their children – children who have the capacity to provide maintenance to their parents but are not doing so. As 11 years have passed since we last amended the Act, it is timely for another review to ensure that the Act remains relevant and effective for the future.”
5 Workgroup member Ms Tin Pei Ling said: “The focus group discussions and online survey will enable the Workgroup to have a sharper and deeper insight into sentiments on the ground. Over the next one month, we will be reaching out to various groups of citizens, including elderly parents, adult children and youths, to gain a more current understanding of Singaporeans' family values and position on the principles underlying the Maintenance of Parents Act, as well as seeking their inputs. Views from relevant social and community agencies will also be sought. We hope that many will come forward to participate in these discussions as their feedback will be useful when the Workgroup drafts and deliberates the proposed amendments to the Act.”
6 The Workgroup will also be working with the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships (AfA), in particular the AfA’s Focal Areas 5 and 3 which looks at support for families with early risks and parenting together respectively. The AfA is part of MSF’s vision to actively bring stakeholders, community partners and Singaporeans together to co-create solutions and implement them to strengthen marriages and family relationships.
7 Members of the public who are keen to participate in the focus group discussions may indicate their interest via go.gov.sg/mpafocusgroups.
Annex A: List of Workgroup Members