Continue to work and learn as part of active ageing: DPM Tharman

Science Centre Singapore senior tour guide John Siregar, 87, showing Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam a photograph of his students in his job as associate trainer in workplace literacy.
Science Centre Singapore senior tour guide John Siregar, 87, showing Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam a photograph of his students in his job as associate trainer in workplace literacy.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore needs to enable its people to work as long as possible and to make lifelong learning a norm, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at an active ageing book launch on Saturday (Feb 9).

Along with making kindness a way of life and getting involved in the community, these are the three components of living life to the fullest, said Mr Tharman, who was guest of honour at the event.

He was speaking at the launch of a book by Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, titled Through The Valley: The Art Of Living And Leaving Well.

The book, which is published by Straits Times Press, delves into topics like joyful ageing, re-energising oneself as one ages and handling grief and the prospect of death.

Mr Tharman said that first of all, work must be made interesting so that people will want to work as long as possible.

In addition, work has to be re-envisioned as society ages; that jobs should change to suit the abilities of people and workers should have their contributions recognised.

"Age does take its toll on our brains and our bodies, but it can be resisted," he said. "And the way to resist it is to keep learning, stay active and continue to contribute."



Dr William Wan's new book, titled Through The Valley: The Art Of Living and Leaving Well, delves into topics like joyful ageing, re-energising oneself as one ages and handling grief and the prospect of death. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The book also pays testimony to Dr Wan's eight brushes with death - including two accidents involving cars which left him with a broken leg and needing to have his ear stitched back.

Dr Wan, 71, was inspired to pen the book after receiving the Active Ager Award from the Council for the Third Age in 2011, and being made an Active Ageing Ambassador.

"The objective is very simple: I wanted to share about how I see active ageing, how I am in fact an active ager, what do I do every day, every year, how do I see meaning and purpose in life," said Dr Wan at the launch at Science Centre Singapore.

"I don't know when I'm going to die... so I have this period called life in-between the two dates (the birth and expiry dates) and really, how then should I live and this is what the book is about," he added.

"I hope it will inspire you to live to the fullest because I can't imagine wasting all the time we have doing nothing but just existing."

Dr Wan, who has worked as a pastor, lawyer and lecturer in theology, took a three-month sabbatical in October last year to write the book.

It has sold more than 3,000 copies out of its first print run of 3,500 copies and a reprint has been ordered.

The book includes a prologue by Mr Gerard Ee, chairman, Charity Council; a foreword by Mr Gregory Vijayendran, president, Law Society of Singapore; an introduction by Professor Kua Ee Heok, Tan Geok Yin Professor in Psychiatry and Neuroscience, National University of Singapore; and an epilogue by Ms Ho Peng, former director-general of education, Ministry of Education.

Dr Wan, who received the President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award in 2017, will be speaking with ST journalist Lee Siew Hua about his new book at the next session of The Straits Times Book Club on Feb 27.