Dr Maliki: Singaporeans' civic-mindedness must grow alongside an ageing population

SINGAPORE - Singaporean's civic-mindedness needs to grow along with an ageing population, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman said on Saturday as he urged the younger generation to be more sensitive to the needs of the elderly.

The Minister of State for Defence and National Development said he often faces competing needs and demands from constituents of different age groups.

The elderly, for example, ask him for more benches in their estate so they can wait for their grandchildren's school buses. Meanwhile younger people ask for them to be removed, saying the old people who sit on them "make a lot of noise".

Dr Maliki was speaking to a group of about 50 people at a public focus group discussion on how to make public spaces more elderly friendly.

About half the participants were 50 and older. The session was organised by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing to gather feedback for its action plan for successful ageing.

For more than two hours, participants discussed ideas on how to enhance public spaces and facilities for the elderly.

These included more public toilets, fitness corners on the rooftops of Housing Board blocks and travelators at bus interchanges.

Many of them also spoke about educating Singaporeans to be more civic-minded when it comes to the use of common spaces.

"How much do Singaporeans know what it means to have a society of older people?"asked Dr Maliki. "It's a real challenge moving forward unless the community appreciates the needs of the seniors."

joycel@sph.com.sg