Ageing should not be talked about here as a problem, as such a perception can end up becoming self-fulfilling; instead, it should be reframed to a more "positive agenda".
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, chairman of the People's Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group (PAP.SG), which champions elderly causes, said this yesterday at an event to mark the International Day of Older Persons. "Should we not try to be able to say this - that our best years are ahead of us... Can we also aspire to become the best place on earth to retire and grow old in?"
Not just as a result of policies and initiatives at the government level, Mr Tan said, but also because of community activities and individual participation as well. "Can we, at the individual level, embrace this and participate fully in a whole effort to make this vision a reality?" he asked at the event organised by PAP.SG.
Mr Tan, who is Speaker of Parliament, said that while an ageing population brings deep and serious challenges to many societies, Singapore may be able to thrive, given its effectiveness in making long-term plans to tackle related issues.
At the event in Hotel Miramar Singapore, Mr Tan announced that the PAP.SG has produced a handbook to help party activists explain government initiatives to seniors, as they have found it challenging to track recent policy changes.
The PAP.SG Ambassador Handbook covers healthcare initiatives and other areas, including Central Provident Fund contribution rates for older workers.
Dr Thang Leng Leng, a member of the PAP.SG executive committee, who helped produce the handbook, said: "The idea to have the handbook is pretty much ground-up... It is just a first step, and is in a ring file, so that we can always update it when there are new policies."
Mr Tan said it is the latest of party members' initiatives for seniors, which range from a Senior Friendship Circle in Ayer Rajah to assistance programmes for vulnerable seniors in Bedok. The handbook will also be available online.
Speaking to the media later, Mr Tan said that several years ago, terms such as "silver tsunami" were used to describe the ageing population. "But what if we say, let's turn it around because it's inevitable... Why don't we make it a positive thing? A lot of it entails us embracing it," he said.
Asked about the timing of the handbook's launch, given the upcoming general election, which must be held by April 2021, he said there was nothing to read into. "This was something we have been working on for the past year or so. For PAP.SG, we have constantly been looking at a lot of these initiatives."
The event was attended by others involved in PAP.SG including former minister of state Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira and Nee Soon GRC MP Henry Kwek.