Channel NewsAsia

Seniors welcome Pioneer Generation Package

Seniors whom Channel NewsAsia spoke with welcomed the Pioneer Generation Package, which is designed to help alleviate their healthcare expenses. The Pioneer Generation Package is for Singaporeans who will be 65 years or older by the end of this year and who became citizens before 1987. 

SINGAPORE: Seniors whom Channel NewsAsia spoke with welcomed the Pioneer Generation Package, which is designed to help alleviate their healthcare expenses.

The Pioneer Generation Package is for Singaporeans who will be 65 years or older by the end of this year and who became citizens before 1987. About 450,000 people will be eligible for the package.

87-year-old Mdm Wong Ah Woon was born in China and came to Singapore when she was 21 years old.

She worked as a samsui woman and was involved in the construction of various buildings like the Shangri-La Hotel and the Singapore General Hospital.

She said: "My legs aren't very well, got to see a doctor every three to four months at Tan Tock Seng Hospital."

Mdm Wong requires medical care and she said the Pioneer Generation Package will help to cover some of her outpatient fees and boost her Medisave account balance.

Medisave was introduced in 1984. Many in the pioneer generation do not have much in their Medisave accounts.

Most of the pioneers Channel NewsAsia spoke with supported the government's move to provide additional top ups to their Medisave accounts so as to help them and their family members cope with their medical needs.

These top ups can also be used to pay the premiums for MediShield Life.

Another pioneer who will benefit from the package is 72-year-old Mdm Timah, a storekeeper at Tan Tock Seng Hospital who suffers from diabetes.

While she currently gets medical subsidies as a hospital staff member, her family will have to foot the full bill when she stops working.

Mdm Timah commented: "Very good. For the elderly and low-income (group), it will help especially those who have chronic diseases. I hope this help will go on. I work at the hospital and I feel proud to be here."

The package will also cover the first batch of National Servicemen who were called up in 1967.

They include Mr Albel Singh, who served as a field engineer officer.

Mr Singh said: "It is in old age that you will need medical attention, rather than at a young age. When we are working, we are quite fit and never have problems. But when you retire, that's when the problems come and that's when you don't have any income."

Over 1,000 representatives of the pioneer generation were honoured for their contributions to Singapore on Sunday.

Among the pioneers invited to the Istana was Singapore's longest-serving opposition Member of Parliament Chiam See Tong.

Mr Chiam said: "I'm happy the government is generous in recognising the contributions by the pioneer generation and the benefits are recurrent in nature and not one-off. That's a very big thing for pioneers who are not so well off."

Also joining in the celebrations was Mdm Noor Aishah, the wife of Singapore's first president, the late Yusof Ishak.

She said: "The government is very kind today to invite all of us to come here to enjoy. We feel very happy that what we have done last time, they still remember us."

The estimated 450,000 pioneers who will be covered by the package will enjoy the benefits for the rest of their lives.

There will be more support for those who are older. 

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