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Jury still out on younger generation of S’pore: ESM Goh

SINGAPORE — The pioneer generation contributed towards building Singapore into the country it is today, but the jury is still out as to whether the younger generation will be able to build on their achievements, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

Mr Goh (seated, in dark blue) participating in a sing-along session at a celebration to mark the International Day of Older Persons at Marine Parade’s Foo Hai Elderly Lodge. Photo: National Council of Social Service

Mr Goh (seated, in dark blue) participating in a sing-along session at a celebration to mark the International Day of Older Persons at Marine Parade’s Foo Hai Elderly Lodge. Photo: National Council of Social Service

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — The pioneer generation contributed towards building Singapore into the country it is today, but the jury is still out as to whether the younger generation will be able to build on their achievements, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

“The verdict is out for the older persons, because they have built — in the case of Singapore — what we can see today … the HDB flats, transportation, a cohesive society, harmony between the races. All these were built by older persons when they were young,” said Mr Goh, who made the comments at the launch of a month-long celebration to mark the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) at Marine Parade’s Foo Hai Elderly Lodge.

Citing the Chinese proverb “wealth doesn’t last beyond three generations”, Mr Goh said: “The first generation builds the company, the business and the wealth. The second generation runs it, maintains it. The third generation just spends it. And this applies to a country too ... I’m not saying (the younger generation) can’t do it, I’m saying the jury is out for them.”

Observed on Oct 1 worldwide, IDOP is a day designated by the United Nations to recognise the contributions of older people to society.

The celebrations in Singapore, organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), WeCare@Marine Parade, YAH! (Young-At-Heart) and GoodLife! From Montfort Care, are aimed at improving communication with senior citizens.

“We have specially designed postcards and printed tips on effective communication … Through these postcards, we hope to promote effective communication by encouraging more frequent sharing of thoughts between the seniors and their younger loved ones,” NCSS chief executive officer Sim Gim Guan said at the launch.

About 75 volunteers — seniors and students — aim to distribute up to 10,000 postcards to the public to create awareness with regard to IDOP.

Public outreach started on Sept 14 and volunteers have distributed close to 1,000 postcards and received positive feedback from the public, added Mr Sim.

Professional storytellers from Asian Storytelling Network will also be conducting a month-long Storytelling Tour at 15 senior activity and day centres to share tips on effective communication through storytelling sessions. Mr Sim said the objective of this initiative is to use light-hearted moments to help seniors better remember important communication messages and increase their willingness to listen and appreciate another person’s perspective.

Head of WeCare@Marine Parade Dominic Lim, who is also from NCSS, said they learnt from their interactions with seniors that many wished their contributions were better recognised by their families, friends and neighbours.

In planning for the IDOP, organisers also decided to get volunteers — trained by the Singapore Memory Project and community groups Face Up and Beyond 60 — to visit seniors at activity and day centres next month to capture interesting or inspiring life stories, which will be uploaded online.

Nanyang Polytechnic student volunteer Ms Jillisa Kok said this was a meaningful project that she wanted to be a part of. “More often than not, the seniors are misunderstood maybe because of language barriers or because the younger generation already have this perception of seniors … to be the weaker side of society,” said the 18-year-old Social Work student.

“Hopefully after this event, ageing stereotypes can be dispelled and society can have a more positive view on ageing because ultimately, everyone grows old.” On what she thought of Mr Goh’s comments on the younger generation, Ms Kok said that she is optimistic as she felt that the right values, such as giving back to society and being family-oriented, would be inculcated into future leaders.

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