Older people can be tech savvy, too

Every Singaporean returning from Malaysia will take solace in the efficiency and friendliness of our immigration checkpoint staff and environment - this is the point when we feel like we are back home.

However, recently, when my friend and I were at the Tuas Checkpoint, we were shocked to hear two checkpoint officers shouting: "Old Singaporeans here. Young Singaporeans there."

We looked around and realised that the officers were channelling the older people to the traditional checkpoint counters and the "young Singaporeans" to the automated clearance counters.

This discrimination is unacceptable.

What made it worse was that the officers were repeating these lines jovially throughout the time we were there - as if the discrimination were true, and that it was funny and endorsed by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore.

There are numerous examples to debunk this unfair bias.

One of them is Ms Masako Wakamiya, an 82-year-old iPhone app developer. Recently, she was even invited by Apple to its prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference.

Another example is my primary school vice-principal who, some years ago, found and added me and my schoolmates as his friends on Facebook. He must have been in his 80s then.

Walk around Singapore and you will see old and young Singaporeans checking their social media accounts on their smartphones.

Everyone can access and use the automated counter at the checkpoints with or without some help from the immigration officers.

Singaporeans must keep an open mind and understand that learning computer skills and new technology is essential for all of us, whether we are young or old Singaporeans.

It is also vital that we all work together to help others so as to ensure that everyone is technically trained and empowered, and that no one is left behind in the drive towards building a Smart Singapore.

Lim Yeng Peng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Older people can be tech savvy, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe