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450,000 S'poreans eligible for Pioneer Generation Package

The Pioneer Generation Package will be for Singaporeans born in 1949 and earlier, and who received their citizenship before 1987. About 450,000 Singaporeans will be eligible for the package, which will help them cope with their healthcare costs for the rest of their lives.

SINGAPORE: The Pioneer Generation Package will be for Singaporeans who will be 65 years or older by the end of this year and who became citizens before 1987.

About 450,000 Singaporeans will be eligible for the package, which will help them cope with their healthcare costs for the rest of their lives.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled some details of the Pioneer Generation Package on Sunday.

He described it as a "sincere expression" of the country's gratitude for the contributions of its pioneers.

Many among the pioneer generation were migrants who came to Singapore to start new lives.

They were part of the anti-colonial struggle, the battle against the communists, and the separation from Malaysia and independence in 1965.

Despite difficult times, they started Singapore on its path of development, which transformed the lives of the entire population.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 Singaporeans who represent the pioneer generation were honoured at the Istana - the official residence of the president.

The event was the first of a series of celebrations to mark Singapore's 50 years of independence in 2015.

Mr Lee said the government has consulted widely about what would be meaningful and helpful to the pioneer generation.

As healthcare is at the top of the minds of older Singaporeans, Mr Lee said the pioneer generation package will thus focus on healthcare benefits.

The package will give financial support in three important areas, and the pioneer generation will enjoy these for life.

Firstly, there is greater support for the pioneer generation so that their premiums for MediShield Life are kept affordable.

There will also be help for their outpatient bills, with extra subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics and general practitioners under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

There will be additional annual top ups to their Medisave accounts to help with their medical needs.

He added that those who are older will get more.

In his Mandarin speech, Mr Lee made the point that the package is more than just a subsidy, and will help the pioneer generation enjoy a better quality of life in their golden years.

He said: "The package will address the healthcare needs of our pioneers, so that they have more resources for their other needs. It will also reduce the burden on their children.

“The significance of this package is therefore not just a subsidy - it is a means to help our pioneer generation live better in their old age."

Mr Lee added: "This is a special package for a special generation. No matter how we design the package, it can never fully reflect the contributions our pioneers have made to our nation. Nevertheless, I hope you will accept it as a sincere expression of our gratitude, and I hope that it will be of help to you and to your families."

The prime minister also paid tribute to the Malay community, thanking them for their loyalty and contributions to Singapore.

Speaking in Malay, he said the separation from Malaysia in 1965 meant a moment of choice - between joining Malaysia as part of the majority and remaining in Singapore as a minority.

He said: "Many of you chose to stay in Singapore to start a new life here, together. Your choice enabled Singapore to grow into a unique multi-racial and multi-religious society."

For those who do not meet these eligibility criteria for the package, Mr Lee assured them the government will continue to take care of them in many other ways.

Mr Lee said: “The biggest tribute we can pay to the pioneer generation is to build on your legacy. You have been tested by crises and proven by your resolves.

“Now, it's our generation's task to carry on and take further what you began, to stay true to your pioneering spirit - self-reliant, never-say-die and united in purpose, and to re-dedicate ourselves to building our nation and take Singapore to greater heights.”

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong welcomed the government's efforts to recognise the contributions of the pioneer generation.

President Tan said: "We should not just leave it to the government to do everything. All of us in society have benefited from what the pioneer generation has done - their sacrifices and hard work. So we should do our part in our own ways in order to recognise them individually as well as in community groups.

“It may not be a very big thing, it can be small items - helping them, for example, giving up seats in the MRT for older people, visiting the elderly, making sure that they are not forgotten and working with community groups in order to lend a hand to them because as they grow older, they might get lonely, and they will need help.

“And it's not possible for the government to do everything. If we all do that together, then not only will we help the pioneer generation, we will be a better society."

ESM Goh said: "Emphasising health is indeed very important. Cash is less important than the emphasis of removing the anxiety of the older generation from their medical and healthcare costs. So I fully support the package." 

The full details of the Pioneer Generation Package will be announced during the Budget on February 21. 

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