Singapore—Speaker of Parliament and People’s Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group chairman Tan Chuan-Jin spoke to over 400 members of the PAP Seniors Group at the each Garden restaurant in Hotel Miramar on October 13, Sunday, challenging everyone to “reframe” the narrative on ageing, saying that because it will happen to everybody, Singaporeans must “fully embrace it and make it work for us all.”
The occasion was held to mark the International Day of Older Persons, and Mr Tan said, “Should we not try to be able to say this – that our best years are ahead of us… Can we also aspire to become the best place on earth to retire and grow old in?”
The Speaker of Parliament added, “Ageing should not be perceived as a problem that must be managed — such a negative narrative can become self-fulfilling.
Instead, we should boldly reframe our narrative and create a positive agenda.”
Together with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also the first assistant secretary-general of the PAP, Mr Tan 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).
Mr Tan talked more to members of the media later on. TODAY Online quotes him as saying, “What struck me was the term itself. Merdeka means freedom and independence. Why do we look at it as the next phase of our lives, when that’s really the best years ahead of us? Let’s make it that way.”
This entails, he explained, further delving into how support for ideas for policies friendly to senior citizens may be given, as well as how to make the community able to have a good environment that would make these policies a reality.
Mr Tan added that the future will no longer belong to the young, what with seniors today having more options than ever.
“Imagine, how exciting this can be? If we can really empower ourselves, we will be free and independent to live our lives fully. We will all truly become the Merdeka Generation, because that is what Merdeka means — free and independent.
I think we’re getting sharper at understanding the concerns. A lot of people (and PAP activists) are now stepping forward, participating in focus groups… I don’t see that stopping. Election or no election, these initiatives need to be introduced, and more importantly, be realised on the ground.”
When it came time for him to speak, 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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