Elderly should be given options to access Govt’ services over the counter as many of them struggle to use digital tools, says WP’s Sylvia Lim

The elderly should be given the options to access the Government services over the counter as many of them are not familiar with the digital transaction like SingPass, said the Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim on Saturday (4 July).

During the WP’s e-rally series “The Hammer Show” which was posted on Facebook on the same day, Ms Lim shared how the elderly people are struggling to use SingPass – online account management for Government e-services – and many of them do not even have a SingPass account.

“I do know many people who don’t have SingPass today. That’s incredible to me because of this relentless push by the Government to make everybody transact digitally using SingPass,” she said, adding that it was based on her own personal observations and the residents’ feedback.

Ms Lim – WP’s candidate for Aljunied GRC – recalled she saw an elderly man who was accompanied by his daughter in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) branch office months ago. When the daughter gave him instructions to use the SingPass, Ms Lim noticed that the elderly man only “nodded” and “obeyed” to his daughter.

“When we talk about logging in and transacting with the Government, we are not just talking about an email, but you have to actually get a correct ID to log in, and then you have to wait for the one time password.

“Then you have to confirm that you’re not a robot by typing in some complicated formula, which is usually hazy and you can’t see clearly. So I think these are big challenges,” she explained.

Although a majority of the citizens appreciate the convenience of making transactions digitally, some people may find the process “quite onerous” and hard to manage, Ms Lim added.

In fact, many residents had also raised about the cost of accessing digital transactions, as they need to have a smartphone in order to be able to use the SingPass.

“Each SingPass is tied to a particular phone number for security reasons, which means that children who want to help their parents would still need to get a phone number for their parents in order to transact via SingPass. All these things add up to cost,” she added.

Ms Lim had raised the issue during the Fortitude Budget, suggesting to provide low-cost plans for the elderly as well as “non-digital options” for those who are struggling to use the online account management, such as counter service.

“The Minister for Communication and Information, Mr S. Iswaran, he did acknowledge the concerns and recently we saw Telcos rolling out some basic plans for senior citizens. But I think those are restricted to people living in public rental housing or those under ComCare assistance,” she noted.

Meanwhile, the Party also believes that Singaporeans who are 65 years-old and above should be able to take public transportation for free.

WP’s candidate Yee Jenn Jong – who is contesting in the Marine Parade GRC – pointed out that by allowing senior citizens to take public transportation for free, it will encourage them to “active living”.

“One of the ways of encouraging active living is to allow them to have free transportations, so they can move without hesitation like they have retired or their income has dropped,” he remarked. “We don’t want them to worry about this sort of things.”

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