Monday, 23 April 2012

PM Lee: Prepare for grey tsunami

Elder-care facilities are for all: PM
He urges Singaporeans to welcome the building of such facilities in their midst
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 22 Apr 2012

In a reminder that reflected his concern over the Not In My Backyard syndrome, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday urged Singaporeans to support the building of facilities for the elderly in their midst.

While officiating at the completion of a rebuilt estate in Ang Mo Kio, he took pains to stress the need for nursing homes, elder-care facilities and studio apartments for seniors.

'We all need them,' he said. 'It's not for somebody else, it's for ourselves, one day, when we grow old.'

In preparation for the country's 'silver tsunami', Singaporeans must be more positive towards senior citizens, he added. 'They have contributed a lot to Singapore, it's only right that we support them.'

Mr Lee's call followed protests made earlier this year by some residents of Toh Yi Drive and Woodlands against plans for infrastructure for the elderly near their homes.

Dubbed the Nimby syndrome, it sparked intense debate over Singaporeans' attitudes, and also prompted Mr Lee to flag it as a worrying trend which he said would stand in the way of a cohesive community.

It was a theme he stressed again yesterday, when speaking at the completion of a Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) estate in his Teck Ghee ward.

One of the aims of this scheme, he noted, was to bring young families and residents into mature estates.

But SERS, which re-houses residents in new developments near their old homes, must also cater to older home owners by including studio apartments as well as elder-care facilities in common spaces.

'We have all the ingredients to bring the young and old together to live happily and take care of one another,' Mr Lee said of SERS estates. 'That's the way it should be all over Singapore.'

Later in the evening, he visited two families in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 whose flats were among the last in Singapore to undergo the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP), which has been discontinued.

Said one of the flat owners, finance executive Mohamad Yusri Sapuan, 44: 'The MUP has really given elderly residents who bought their flats a long time ago something to look forward to.'

Mr Lee also emphasised that the Government will continue to improve housing estates to make Singapore truly the best home.

He said: 'That means we have to work hard... We must get our economy to grow. That means we must continue to support good policies which benefit Singaporeans.

'That means, we must continue to find good leaders who will do a good job for Singapore, who will take good care of Singapore and take good care of our future.'

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