Singapore—At an event for seniors on Sunday, October 13, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told those who had gathered together of the lessons he had received from Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was then Minister Mentor, as well as the country’s second Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, then Senior Minister.
The two venerable leaders had instilled into the up-and-coming leaders in 2011 to always keep the welfare and interests of senior citizens in mind.
DPM Heng told the audience at the event marking the International Day of Older Persons at Hotel Miramar Singapore that this principle has continued to guide him in his work over the years.
The event was sponsored by People’s Action Party Seniors Group (PAP.SG).
DPM Heng said that he and his cohort were told that “the younger team must always have in mind the interests of the older generation”, who must be looked after well.
At present, around 15 percent of the population are over 65 years old, which is more than 500,000 people. Therefore, it is all the more important for officials to pay attention to feedback from older citizens, and when needed, to adjust items of policy to better meet their needs.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that he and his co-4G leaders will be closely observing the work of PAP.SG, whose activists have been tasked to explain to seniors the government’s policies that pertain to them.
“This approach of working with and staying close to the ground must continue to be passed down through generations of PAP activists.
The Government will do its part to make sure that our seniors can have peace of mind in their golden years… and receive the care they need. The seniors group can play a part by continuing to engage seniors deeply and champion their causes.”
Together with Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, DPM Heng launched a handbook containing every plan and initiative of the government that concerns the welfare of seniors.
This handbook is designed to aid PAP activists to clarify policies that may seem complicated to people, including CareShield Life and the contribution rates for the Central Provident Fund (CPF).
DPM Heng encouraged the PAP activists to gather feedback as they explained different policies to seniors, as this would aid in the crafting of improved policies from the 4G leaders.
He gave the example of how important mentoring and being mentored are, from his own experience with Mr Sim Boon Ann, who had been his predecessor in the Tampines Central ward.
When Mr Heng had a stroke three years ago, Mr Sim came out of retirement and helped take over Mr Heng’s responsibilities at meet-the-people activities each week.
“I know from my experience with Boon Ann that the gift of a mentor is priceless… You are living proof that even as one generation hands over to another, the contribution of the previous generation remains invaluable,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister also talked about the “enormous debt of gratitude” to generations of Singaporeans who have come before us.
“They toiled and sacrificed to make Singapore into what it is today, and placed Singapore on a firmer footing for the future… We must honour our seniors with our care for them, just as they took care of us,” he added. /TISG
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