The SDP welcomes the Government’s planto provide financial assistance to the elderly through the PioneerGeneration Package (PGP). It is important that as our people age, weaccept the responsibility of taking care of them as they havecontributed to this nation when they were younger.$CUT$
It must be recognised, however, that the PGP is an ad hoc measure to address the difficulties of the elderly. The Package raises an important, and ratherglaring, point about the social security system as a whole. How did itcome to the stage where our elderly, having worked their entirelives, find themselves unable to retire with peace of mind?
In fact, those currently in retirement in Singapore havebeen struggling all these years to make ends meet. Many have suffered greatly and needlessly because the Government have neglected them.
Madam Lu Dai Hao, a 95-year-old former Samsui woman and someone who worked all her life, fell ill and could notafford her medical expenses. As she did not want tofinancially burden her daughter, she felt that it was better to take her own life. This shocked Singaporeans even though the plight of people like Madam Lu is not uncommon.
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Madam Lu’s death was a serious indictment of the present system. Singaporeans must ask why the plight of our elderly poor must deteriorate to such an extent before the Government is willing to take action. And even then, the PGP does not go far enough to enable our elderly tosurvive in retirement, it does not address the wider problem of those in need.
If the Government is sincere about ensuring that retirees and the elderly are taken care of, it must review the social security system, not just introduce stop-gap measures like the PGP. It should start with the release of our CPF money currently withheld under the Minimum SumScheme. Our retirees depend on these hard-earned savings.
The SDP has laid out our National Healthcare Plan to tackle the medical needs of the elderly and we will address the issue of funding our retirees in our forthcoming policy paper on the economy.