A proposed law which requires children to take care of their parents received a mixed reception from government officials although a survey revealed that a majority of citizens were in favour of it. Executive Councillor Tam Yiu-chung said it was a contro versial move to introduce a law which makes it compulsory for children to look after their parents. Mr Tam, who is also chairman of the Elderly Commission, made the comment in response to a survey conducted by City University (CityU) which showed that the majority of interviewees wanted the Government to enact such legislation. Both the mainland and Singapore have laws requiring children to take care of their parents. Mainland authorities are understood to be able to withhold salaries while in Singapore, parents can take civil action if the law is broken. Of the 1,442 people interviewed by the university, about 71 per cent said the Government should enact such leg islation. Support among the elderly was particularly strong, with 83 per cent of respondents aged 60 or above endorsing the plan. Even in the least supportive age group - 21 to 29 - backing stood at 60 per cent. Mr Tam said there was a case in which an el derly woman was forced to apply for welfare because her civil servant son, earning $40,000 a month, had refused to support her. But he said the present situation was not particularly worrying and if the law was enforced, parents might be re luctant to sue their children. Raymond Ngan Man-hung, assistant professor of applied social studies at CityU, said there was a clear con sensus to enact legislation. He said the statutory safeguard was essential as the public felt the elderly had insufficient protection. 'The elderly believe legislation would give them more concrete protection.' But the findings were spurned by the Elderly Commis sion and officials, who said they had no plans to introduce new laws. The Government also said it had no plans to introduce legislation. 'Providing financial support to elderly parents is a good Chinese tradition that most people respect and follow,' a spokesman said. Legislative protection 'It has always been the Government's policy to encourage grown-up children to support their parents and live with them as far as possible.' University student Cheung Ting-kuen said he did not support the law because legislation could complicate the relationship between parents and children instead of motivating children to take care of the elderly. He said education would be more effective. 'Legislation could give parents protection but would not change people's attitudes. If children were bound by law to look after their parents, there would be more conflicts in the family.'