Singapore— The country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat, participated in a 12-kilometer charity heritage walk, a fundraising activity for Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) on Sunday, June 22.

During his remarks at the event, Mr Heng made reference to the results of a 2017 study which showed that Singaporeans have the longest life expectancy out of everyone in the world. A related recent study showed that while the number of healthy years that Singaporeans enjoy is at a global high, at 74.2, the number of years spent in poor health is also higher.

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Therefore, he said, it is all the more important that people be prepared to maintain good health in their later years.

He mentioned that Gan Kim Yong, the country’s Health Minister, along with his team as well as Singapore’s medical professionals, have teamed up to help older Singaporeans to stay fit and active as they age.

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The Deputy Prime Minister said,

“We are shifting from just healthcare to health. Let’s do all of that together.”

Mr Heng took the opportunity on Sunday to say hello to the doctors and nurses who tended to him in 2016 when he was confined to TTSH when he had a stroke.

He needed surgery after his stroke and ended up staying in TTSH for six weeks as he recovered.

He thanked them for the excellent care he had received during his confinement, calling himself a “big beneficiary” of the hospital.

“So I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for taking such good care of me, my wife and my family during this period.”

The charity heritage walk was called Tan Tock Seng’s Journey and was joined by 1,750 participants in all, who walked from TTSH’s original site in Pearl’s Hill, to where the hospital stands now in Novena.

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The charity event was able to raise the amount of S$1 million for the TTSH Community Fund, which was put up in order to aid patients whose medical needs are unsubsidised. The fund also goes to community health projects as well as medical research.

Since its establishment in 1995, the community fund has been able to provide assistance to over 2,500 families, funding over 100 patient-centred programmes. The fund disburses over S$2 million annually.

Concerns over the state of Mr Heng’s health arose last November, when he was appointed first assistant secretary-general of ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), given his stroke three years ago.

But he was quick to allay people’s fears, on the same day as his appointment, saying, “I have made very good recovery, my doctors have given me a clean bill of health. At my latest medical check, the results were even better than before. I have lost a bit of weight, but that’s because I’m fitter now,” at a press conference in PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road.

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Members of the press quizzed him about his health, and the Finance Minister answered them directly.

“I would not have taken up this appointment if I did not have the confidence that my health allowed me to do it.

I consulted my doctors, looked at the medical reports as well as (knew) my own energy level.”

In May 2016, while in a Cabinet meeting, Mr Heng had a brain aneurysm and collapsed. He recovered after several months.

Furthermore, the new first assistant secretary-general of PAP said that his health scare has made him more determined than ever to serve the country.

“This life-and-death episode has strengthened my commitment to serve Singaporeans,” he said at a press conference on November 23, 2018./ TISG