Singapore offers the least to the average senior citizen yet we call ourselves a First World country, says former SPH CEO’s wife

On Wednesday (10 June), veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon shared on his Facebook page a letter written by former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Chief Executive Officer Lyn Holloway’s wife, Anne Wong-Holloway, casting aspersions on how the Government treats senior citizens.

Mrs Holloway’s letter was addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In the letter, she quoted PM Lee’s remark that said, “First, as the population ages, Singapore will need to create strong social support and community networks for seniors, keep them socially engaged, and build up healthcare systems and services.”

She was apprehensive about PM Lee’s remark, asserting that the Government does not address all senior citizens equally when providing assistance to those in need.

Referring to her own situation, Mrs Holloway wrote, “As I am 69 this year and my husband is 89 and has Alzheimer, I would like to know how and when help will start for people like us who do not live in HDB units and not desperately poor?”

“We have paid our taxes and continue to do so,” she added.

Mrs Holloway went on to talk about the so-called benefits covered under Pioneer Generation cards, which was no more than “an invitation to a free screen for Life screening” to her.

“We have Pioneer Generation cards but the ONLY benefit I have enjoyed was an invitation to a free Screen for Life screening. Otherwise we have paid our way,” she said.

Noting that nearly everyone in the Government earns “decent wages and enjoy certain benefits”, Mrs Holloway reminded the Government that there is much to be done for those aged 65 or above.

“You, your Ministers, MPs and Government employees (I hesitate to call them Civil Servants) earn decent wages and enjoy certain benefits – some for life. As a citizen I do not begrudge you that, but perhaps you all do not realise or want to see that there is much too be done for those over 60 or even 65 – we number in the hundreds of thousands and are expected to increase in numbers,” she wrote.

Mrs Holloway also voiced her displeasure towards the Government, saying, “Having spent time overseas, I can tell you – from personal experience – that Singapore offers the least to the average senior citizen. And yet we call ourselves a First World country?”

“And every time the forthcoming Budget is mentioned we are told that taxes will be increased and new forms of taxation are going to be introduced,” she added.

Mrs Holloway went on to express her disappointment in the fact that the Government spends so little on the people considering how well the country is doing “by all the visible signs of prosperity” – such as new airport terminals, shopping malls, showcase hospitals and medical centres, as well as new and expensive cars on the road.

Having enough of the situation, she urged the Government to live up to its promises by looking after the senior citizens properly.

“I could go on but this suffix yes for now. I have gritted my teeth (no wonder my dentist says I grind my teeth at night) for long enough. For this coming year I will ask no more than you put some of your promises for seniors into action,” she remarked.

Penning their thoughts in the comments section of Mr Tay’s post, some netizens shared that they had encountered the same predicaments where they were excluded from some benefits and financial reliefs simply because they were not considered as “desperately poor”.

One netizen, Tay Boon Leng, commented that the Pionner Generation card is “for show only”, adding that the elderly cannot even use it for their healthcare treatments.

Denouncing the Government’s “with you, for you” stance, a handful of netizens opined that the Government does not care for the elderly, adding that it treats the seniors as “an liability”.

Many others commented that it is pointless to voice theirs concerns to the Government as the Government will only continue with the same mentality in governing the country.

“To them, getting all the benefits for themselves is a entitlement but citizens asking for a little are unreasonable demand,” one netizen wrote.

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June 2020