For the majority of Singaporean families, Changi Airport is where we go once or twice a year for that long awaited vacation. However, for the Peng family, they are ‘forced’ to call it home.
The family has stayed at the airport for two months now, and intends to spend the Lunar New Year there as well.
Homeless and desperate
Ever Since Peng Hui Ying, 45, sold her flat off in 2016, she, her 74-year-old mother, and 13-year-old son have been moving between two-room rental flats.
However, despite the earnings from the sale, her savings have been depleted after they were forced to move more than 10 times in the past year.
While they were offered transitional shelter in December, they decided against staying there as they were unhappy with the arrangements.
Instead, they opted to ‘move’ into Changi airport. Said Ms Peng:
We usually spend daytime between Terminal 1 and 3. At night, we’ll sleep at the sofa seats in Terminal 4
While the airport has air condition and drinking water, Ms Peng laments that everyday life has been difficult.
She said: “We are unable to shower at the airport, and we can only use a wet towel to clean ourselves. We’ll occasionally head to a public swimming complex to bathe.”
Moreover, they are faced with a severe financial problem. Almost entirely out of cash, the family usually survives on 2 plates of plain chicken rice, which they share.
This concerns Ms Peng, as she worries that her growing son may be malnourished.
Yet another problem faced by her son, is his inability to reach his school on time.
The secondary 2 student at Punggol Secondary School often reaches late even when he takes the earliest available train.
In response to media queries, a spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSFD) said that Ms Peng was granted ComCare subsidy between January and March 2018.
Surpisingly this is not the first case of people living in Changi Airport.