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UN Expert to Singapore: offer more state support for eldercare, pension for all, minimum wage, poverty statistics

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Key recommendations from the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons:

  • State should be main entity providing eldercare in Singapore
  • Pension should be available to all, even though who cannot contribute from income
  • Institute a minimum wage across all sectors of employment – older people should not work out of need
  • Full population-related statistics, including data on poverty, should be made widely available

By: Chong Ning Qian, AWARE Research Executive

Last Thursday (29 September), I attended a press conference held by the United Nations independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Ms Rosa Kornfeld-Matte.  At this press conference – conclusion to her week-long visit to Singapore – she presented her preliminary findings and recommendations for Singapore on the human rights situation of older persons here.

The Expert began by expressing general impressions and identifying best practices in Singapore, before moving on to make recommendations in specific areas of healthcare, employment, pensions etc.

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While largely lauding the Singapore government for having put in place an Action Plan for Active Ageing and the multi-disciplinary nature of its policies, Ms Kornfeld-Matte pointed out that these policies are all relatively new.  More time, she said, is needed to assess what is working and what is not. The policies also need to be institutionalised over time, and require active monitoring and follow-up.

In the area of healthcare and caregiving, she noted that there are many volunteers involved in supporting the elderly. However, she added that caregiving should not be wholly dependent on volunteers and the state should be the main entity in the provision of care.

On a similar note, she agreed that the family plays an important role in caregiving, but again stressed that the state must be present to support the family. When pressed on how exactly the state could better support families, she raised the example of state monetary contribution through non-contributive schemes and health support for families to alleviate the stress of caregiving.

The suggestion of utilising non-contributive schemes was also made for improving the CPF system, such that even those who do not contribute would still receive a pension. This would provide better support for low-income earners and non-working caregivers (such as stay-at-home parents).

She also suggested instituting a basic minimum wage across all sectors of employment. While she was impressed that older persons can stay in employment, Ms Kornfeld-Matte stressed that employment for older persons should be entirely voluntary. This means that they should not be working out of necessity because they lack the means to meet their daily basic needs.

She also stressed that full population-related statistics, including data on poverty should also be made publicly available.

In her closing remarks, she suggested that the ‘ideal’ society for older persons was one which offered a full spectrum of support, bringing together the state, society and the elderly population, and where the autonomy of older persons are taken into account when formulating policies for them.


Republished from AWARE‘s website.

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