120,000 Merdeka Generation folders already sent out: Amy Khor

About 350 Merdeka Generation women volunteers at a celebration organised by the People's Association Women's Integration Network Council on July 7, 2019.
About 350 Merdeka Generation women volunteers at a celebration organised by the People's Association Women's Integration Network Council on July 7, 2019.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - About 120,000 Merdeka Generation (MG) welcome folders have been mailed to eligible Singaporeans as of last Thursday (July 4), Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said on Sunday.

Since the process started on June 28, efforts are on track to have more than 400,000 folders sent out by the end of this month, she said.

"We know the MG seniors are eager to receive the welcome folders as soon as possible, so we appeal to them for their patience. We are working very hard together with the publishers, the production company as well as SingPost to mail this out as soon as possible," said Dr Khor, who co-chairs the Merdeka Generation Communications and Engagement Taskforce.

She added that there is a delivery tracking system in place so that undelivered folders can be re-sent after addresses have been updated.

She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a lunch event to celebrate the contributions of Merdeka Generation women volunteers, organised by the People's Association (PA) Women's Integration Network Council.

The welcome folders include the MG card and a list of Community Health Assist Scheme clinics near the recipient's home. Another 80,000 folders have already been given out at community events.

Dr Khor said that besides home visits to help people understand the MG Package, the Silver Generation Office has conducted more than 200 group briefings at workplaces and will continue to do this until the end of next year, as about 60 per cent of the MG are still working.

Details of the MG Package were announced in February during the Budget speech. The scheme aims to offset some of the healthcare costs of older Singaporeans born in the 1950s and encourage them to stay active.

It includes an annual $200 Medisave account top-up for five years from 2019 to 2023. The first top-up will be automatically credited this month.

In a speech at Sunday's event, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that women here have the world's longest life expectancy of 87.55 years, so it is imperative for them to stay active and healthy through volunteerism, lifelong learning and leading a healthy lifestyle.

 
 

Already, women were the biggest contributor to rising resident employment rates in the last decade, she said, speaking to about 350 women at the event at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

Mrs Teo also highlighted the role of Women's Executive Committees (WECs), which are PA groups with about 2,500 members in all that organise programmes for women to promote community bonding, nurture the young, and help the less fortunate.

In the early days, the committees organised sewing, hairdressing and cooking classes which helped equip Merdeka Generation women with skills to re-enter the workforce, at a time when many may have had less education due to family circumstances or were housewives, she said.

And over the years, committee members have created platforms to empower women and enable them to play meaningful roles in the community.

Mrs Teo commended the volunteers at the event for balancing work, family life and volunteerism and sacrificing their personal and family time for others.

"Keep your passion and commitment going because the lives of other people have become better as a result of your efforts and we want this to continue to spread," she said.

She highlighted the efforts of Madam Teo Lin Lee, who has been volunteering with Queenstown WEC since 1992. She started a legal clinic which provides pro-bono legal advice as well as a Knit for Love interest group which brings women together to knit beanies for cancer patients.

Madam K. Madavy Nair, a former national athlete, has also led Nee Soon East WEC to organise healthy cooking classes, health talks and yoga, to support other women in leading an active lifestyle.

Mrs Teo also paid tribute in her speech to members of the Merdeka Generation, who faced uncertainties when they took over the mantle from the Pioneer Generation and could have chosen to squander what they inherited.

Singapore is fortunate that they chose instead to build on the foundation that had been laid, she said.

"The Merdeka Generation played a critical role in shaping Singapore into a vibrant city state with a prosperous economy and strong social fabric," she said.

Sunday's event included a roadshow to promote awareness of the Merdeka Generation package and volunteering opportunities, with booths by the Silver Generation Office, Health Promotion Board, Ministry of Communications and Information, SportSG and PA Lifeskills and Lifestyle Division.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information as well as Culture, Community and Youth, who co-chairs the communications task force with Dr Khor, and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education Low Yen Ling, who is also Mayor for the South West District, were also at the event.