Simon Lim: Tan Chuan-Jin and govt should help seniors in need of help instead of painting rosy picture of their plight

by Simon Lim

“Singapore can be the best place in the world to age in”, says People’s Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group chairman, Tan Chuan-Jin.

Really? How so? Because as of today, Singapore remains the most expensive country in the world to live in.

Have we forgotten the words of former GIC Chief Economist, Yeoh Lam Keong who revealed that we have more than 250,000 people who live in absolute poverty among us?

In another recent study led by Assistant Professor Ng Kok Hoe from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, an elderly person aged 65 and above would need a monthly sum of $1379 to meet his/her basic needs and for an elderly couple, the amount would be $2351 per month.

It is a crying shame that many full time Singaporean workers don’t even earn $1379 each month! I know that it is hard to fathom but believe me, it is true.

Another point to note, how can Singapore be the best place for our elderly citizens to age in when so many of our seniors including my mother only receive $300 to $400 each month from their CPF savings? Many more get even less.

If one bothers to visit places such as Chin Swee, Jalan Bukit Merah, Chinatown or Tanjong Pagar etc and chat up the many elderly people there, many will open up to you about their plights and heartaches, their loss of hope and aging in expensive Singapore.

Lastly, under this present government, our elderly suicide has hit a record high and still climbing.

According to a staff from the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), “Being dependent on others, like their family members or caregivers, may lead to feelings of worthlessness. The lack of a close social circle may exacerbate the feelings of helplessness and worthlessness,”. This contributes to that ever narrowing tunnel vision that life where the elderly can no longer see outside of their desperate situation.

“They feel trapped, unable to control or change their circumstances, and so take action on the only thing they still have control of – their lives,” he added.

However, the staff member emphasised that suicide is preventable and that many suicidal people do not actually want to die. They want to live so desperately, but they can’t seem to find a way to,” he said. “They feel like they have exhausted all their options and the pain they are experiencing is well beyond them.”

It would be more meaningful if Tan Chuan-Jin and our government as a whole, help these elderly citizens age with grace and dignity, freeing them from the concerns of retirement inadequacies instead of painting a rosy picture or window dressing the harsh realities of their plight.

This was first published on Simon Lim’s Facebook page. It is reproduced and edited with permission