SINGAPORE - As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented Pioneer Generation cards to elderly constituents on Saturday evening, one among them gave him something in return: an old photograph of him as a child with his parents, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo.
The yellowing photograph was taken by Mr See Tow Kok Weng, now 82, more than 50 years ago. His wife, Madam Cheng Peh Keng, 78, insisted that PM Lee take and keep the photograph.
"He asked us to keep it, but I told him that we are old, and I wanted him to have a picture of his parents," she said.
PM Lee did so, thanked the couple and promised them that he would treasure it.
The couple were at the Teck Ghee Community Club, where Mr See Tow was one of 200 residents from the Teck Ghee ward of Ang Mo Kio GRC who received their Pioneer Generation cards from Mr Lee, who is also their MP.
The card is part of an $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package to keep health-care bills for pioneers affordable. It entitles those aged 65 or older this year and who became citizens before 1987 to healthcare subsidies and discounts. These privileges take effect on Monday.
Mr Lee, speaking both in English and Mandarin, said the package was "a token of our appreciation and gratitude and our respect to the pioneer generation who helped us to build today's Singapore".
"You've put in a lot of hard work. Fifty years ago, Singapore was not like this. But you were young, determined, passionate, you worked together with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team of leaders and built today's Singapore and I think your children and your grand-children are enjoying something which you yourself did not have, but created," he told the audience.
"The Pioneer Generation scheme is our gesture to express our thanks and gratitude and respect to you."
He also said it was important for them to stay active.
"Be well, be fit, be healthy, be active and stay well and be part of our society and enjoy the Singapore you have built," he said.
Retired laundrywoman Soh Soo Cheng, 93, was happy to receive the card. Speaking in Teochew she said: "I seldom see the doctor. I'm very healthy and have no problems but I'm glad to have this just in case."