Born in 1959, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam is part of the Merdeka Generation.
Like many at the time, he grew up in a modest family, living in a rented flat. It was only in 1975 that his family bought their first property, a three-room flat.
Mr Shanmugam shared his humble upbringing with Merdeka Generation residents in Nee Soon as a tribute to those who worked hard during Singapore's formative years.
He spoke to about 500 residents who received their Merdeka Generation Package at an appreciation dinner at Chong Pang Community Club yesterday.
Along with 250 Sembawang GRC residents, they are part of the first batch of about 8,300 Singaporeans to receive their welcome folders.
Mr Shanmugam distributed them to Nee Soon residents born in the 1950s, and said the package aims to assure the Merdeka Generation that their concerns are being recognised. "One of the key things people are looking for as you age is a sense of assurance, a sense of security. That is something the Government has been focusing on for some time as our population ages," he said.
The package, to be distributed to half a million people, includes a personal Merdeka Generation card qualifying the holder for outpatient care subsidies at general practitioner (GP) and dental clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) from Nov 1.
The folder also contains a list of six Chas clinics - four GP clinics and two dental clinics - nearest to the home of the person receiving it.
The Merdeka Generation Package, announced earlier this year by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, aims to offset healthcare costs that come with ageing. It includes an annual $200 Medisave top-up for eligible Singaporeans from this year to 2023. The first top-up will be automatically credited next month.
Singaporeans born from Jan 1, 1950, to Dec 31, 1959, including those who had attained citizenship by the end of 1996, are eligible for the package. It is also open to Singaporeans born by Dec 31, 1949, and those born overseas by this date who became citizens by the end of 1996, if they did not receive the Pioneer Generation Package.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and Education Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim and fellow Nee Soon GRC MPs Lee Bee Wah, Henry Kwek and Louis Ng also gave out the packages to their residents.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who attended the Sembawang event, called the Pioneer and Merdeka generations "very special". "We worked hard, times were hard, we saw Singapore from Third World to First," he said. "One key value is, always do your best for the next generation, so that they have a life even better than yours."