Channel NewsAsia

Volunteers among invited guests of pioneer generation party

Some 1,500 Singaporeans who belong to the country's pioneer generation will be recognised at a tribute party on Sunday at the Istana.

SINGAPORE: Some 1,500 Singaporeans who belong to the country's pioneer generation will be recognised at a tribute party on Sunday at the Istana.

The party is one of the first events to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday next year.

One of the invited guests is 75-year-old Mr Hooi Kok Wai, who is known to many Singaporeans as one of those who developed the popular raw fish salad “yu sheng” as it is known today.

“Yu sheng” is eaten during the Lunar New Year.

But even before Mr Hooi became a celebrity chef, he was giving free cooking lessons to housewives at a community centre in the early 1960s.

His passion for community service continued into the next three decades, where he also helped distribute food to the needy and elderly.

Mr Hooi said: "I feel a sense of satisfaction. I feel that as a member of this society, I help others when they need it just as they help me too."

He received an invitation last week to the Pioneer Generation Tribute event at the Istana.

"I can feel that this generation of leaders and MPs still remember our generation, so we're very happy that they haven't forgotten us. I feel this is something worthy of respect,” said Mr Hooi.

During the Istana event, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is also expected to touch on the special package for the pioneer generation.

Mr Hooi said he hopes to see more healthcare financial aid given to the pioneer generation.

"The most important thing is healthcare. Having a roof over their heads is not a problem, as the government has mostly solved this problem.

“So the most important thing is healthcare, because honestly, many people from the older generation don't have much money left, and they didn't really earn much in the first place," he added. 

Mr Yu Kwang Seng will also be attending the Istana party.

The 78-year-old is the second eldest of 10 children, and the only one who inherited his father's craft of making furniture.

He made sofas for nearly 40 years, until his workshop at Gay World closed in early 2000.

Shortly after, Mr Yu's wife died from kidney disease, and he started volunteering at a voluntary welfare organisation to help other senior citizens.

Mr Yu said: “They need men to bring some old folks out over the weekends -- for meals, sightseeing at the airport, or shopping.

“So I have to volunteer, as they didn't have many volunteers. Most of the volunteers are women. Also, when the old folks need to go to the loo, it's not so convenient for the ladies to help them."

Channel NewsAsia also understands that opposition veteran Chiam See Tong and his wife, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Lina Chiam, will be attending Sunday's event.

The guest list for the Istana party is wide-ranging and includes former political leaders, community leaders and ordinary Singaporeans.

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