Let's honour Singapore's centenarians

I have nothing but admiration for former principal Naganathan Vaithinathan, who not only devoted many years of his life to education, but also kept himself busy reading and doing translation work after retirement (Tanjong Katong Secondary's founding principal dies at 102; Sept 22).

Mr Vaithinathan valued life-long learning. He obtained a barrister-at-law certificate at the age of 57, managed his own law firm for 18 years and learnt five languages.

Longevity can come about when seniors keep themselves actively engaged in work, have social interaction, are cheerful and optimistic and embrace positive energy.

The general life expectancy in Singapore is around 80 years. Not all of us can live to the ripe old age of 100 and beyond, like Mr Vaithinathan.

But if anyone does hit a century, their life should be celebrated.

Honouring our centenarians is acknowledging the strength and resilience of these citizens and all they have gone through.

In the Philippines, the government gives a cash gift of 100,000 pesos ($2,660) to any citizen who reaches 100 years.

There have also been proposals to give these senior citizens additional discounts on the sale of goods and services and value-added tax exemptions.

The Singapore government can consider adopting such a policy to honour our own centenarians.

Raymond Anthony Fernando