Call for more to help pioneers

A team of around 2,600 "ambassadors" have helped more than 90,000 senior citizens over the last nine months by explaining the benefits of the Pioneer Generation package to them.

Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob revealed the figures yesterday and called for more people to volunteer as Pioneer Generation ambassadors.

Dr Maliki said: "It's more than just having ambassadors who go out and explain the package to the pioneers, but also a simple message that average Singaporeans are going out to meet our pioneers and telling them 'thank you for all that you have done for us'."

Pioneer Generation ambassadors, who have to be at least 17 years old, go through training to familiarise themselves with details of the package and learn communication skills.

They are expected to try to commit an average of four hours a week to visiting pioneers at their homes, and receive a nominal out-of-pocket allowance for each pioneer they help.

Madam Halimah acknowledged that the task is not always easy, saying: "I get feedback that sometimes the pioneers are not willing to open their doors; because they are old and living alone, they're a bit more careful.

"If the message goes out that there are ambassadors going to reach out to them, then they'd be more willing to open their doors because this is for their own benefit."

Dr Maliki and Madam Halimah were speaking to reporters yesterday after a Malay dialogue about the Pioneer Generation package and the ambassadors programme.

About 60 people attended the event, which was organised by the Pioneer Generation task force. It is the second of three sessions to better engage Malay/ Muslim families during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Mr Ibrahim Mohammad Ismail, a programme coordinator for the Pioneer Generation Office, said: "It is a noble way of reaching out to pioneers. We want to tell them that we respect and appreciate them."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Call for more to help pioneers'. Print Edition | Subscribe