By-Election Rally: Workers’ Party May 22 – call for greater respect of the elderly

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Singapore senior citizen: still toiling away at 10:30pm when she should be at home spending time with her family or grandchildren.

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In stark contrast, cleaners in China are young people!

Many issues, points and rebuttals to PAP’s claims were made at the Workers’ Party by- election rally last night.

I’ll just focus on one. WP brought up the plight of the many elderly who still need to work as cleaners and in other menial jobs. A speaker urged the ruling party, the PAP, to accord the elderly greater respect as they helped to build up Singapore.

These elderly people are the current younger generation’s fathers and mothers. Do the young really understand what hardship and sacrifices their parents went through?

I will try to explain.

In the early years of independence, the present younger generation’s parents were in their twenties, in the prime of the lives after their formal schooling.

In the 60s and 70s, in the early years of independence everything had to be practically established from scratch or expanded: schools, clinics, hospitals, housing, the police force, the armed forces, public housing, transport etc. And all this required a labour force like teachers, nurses, technicians, clerical workers, civil servants, soldiers, policemen and so on.

I can still vividly recall how lessons were interrupted when I was in Secondary 4 for teachers to make announcements about vacancies in the civil service. Eventually, all of us took up different careers.

How about those without much education? Well, they mostly became bus drivers, bus conductors, shopkeepers, traders, contractors, seamen, businessmen and so on.

Inevitably, most got married and raised a family. To make ends meet, both parents worked and struggled to provide for their families. Their kids now form the younger generation.

But everybody contributed towards nation building, regardless of their educational level, in the early years of a young independent nation. Now, we are all retired and have joined the ranks of the elderly.

Briefly this is what is meant by helping to build up the nation by the older generation. But the ruling PAP government regard them more of a burden than anything else. It has never been generous with the generation who struggled to build up a young independent nation or sincerely concerned about their plight in their old age.

As many people have noted, even my friends from overseas, Singapore has so many of its elderly still toiling away as cleaners.

That is why the Workers’ Party call last night for the PAP to show greater respect for the older generation struck a chord with me.

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