“Singapore elderly who are still working in their twilight years do not want assistance from the government and Singaporeans should show some respect to them, declared Minister for National Development Tan Chuan Jin on his Facebook.”
The statement from MOS Tan CJ is correct. He is stating the hard truth. The truth really hurts. Oouch! But we need to acknowledge the truth. Let me elaborate and discuss the above statement.
Fact is most Singaporeans esp the older generations inherited this tenacious and survival instinct of those earlier pioneer immigrants. We can’t even lift a candle when compare to them! Look at the various clans and self help groups set up by those pioneer immigrants for their own survival. I’m considered 3rd generation local Singaporean. My parents were born locally. All my grandparents came from the coastal regions of China.
My parents aged 70 yrs and 75 yrs respectively are still working as low wage cleaners. My two brothers are school teacher and an engineer. Both are graduates with the latter having a PhD from UK. He earned it with many scholarships from polytechnic till university from the same company.
We are still giving monthly allowances to our parents yet they insist on working to stay fit and healthy. They also take pride in their ability to work. They always say that so long as they could walk and work, they would not stop. In their own words, they will only stop working if they are bedridden. People of their generation always look up to LKY as a role model. They say if ‘Lau Lee’ is still working, why can’t we? That was why MM Lee reminded this government to take good care of the usually less educated dialect speaking elderly Singaporeans when he and few senior ministers shockingly and abruptly resigned from the cabinet soon after the last GE. Let’s hope that this government will never forget that reminder from them to take care of the elderly. Let’s hope that MOS Tan will also not forget it.
MM Lee still possesses that enigmatic spell binding charismatic power over them. They really treat his hard truth as the only gospel and accept it totally without any discount. They belong to the solid unwavering 30% to 35% of hardcore supporters. Wonder no more why only old folks attended their rally. Younger generations like us do not bother about that ‘broken record’ he kept playing. Times have changed. That is a fact.
Let me take the liberty to quote you another source of reference. Our Fellowship member, Dr Vaikunthan R – an expert in micro hand surgery, consultant at Yishun Hospital related an incident to me whilst attending to an elderly Chinese lady patient.
Dr Vai – with a string of medical degrees and a published author ever worked in UK, US and Malaysian hospitals is also well versed in the Cantonese dialect.
First, Dr Vai interviewed the elderly Chinese at Yishun hospital in Malay without an interpreter to find out about her hand condition. Malay instead of English used to be the lingua franca amongst the elderly Chinese, Indians and Malays in those early days of our history. Her fingers due to aging could not bend completely and were stiff, losing some of its flexibility and functions. When Dr Vai found out that she is a Cantonese, he easily switched right away to her native language.
Lo and behold, that old lady’s initial reluctance to speak, all of a sudden turned into a talkative lady bird! She started telling Dr Vai that she is working in a Foodcourt collecting dirty bowls and plates and wanted Dr Vai to treat her stiff fingers soonest. She wanted Dr Vai to perform a simple operation on her nerves to restore her finger flexibility so that she could get back to work asap.
Dr Vai related this true encounter to us in one of our Fellowship meetings. The old lady became so agitated and endearing to Dr Vai due to his ability to speak her native Cantonese dialect. Dr Via remarked that she reminded him of his hardworking independent mother who took pride in her work refusing free handouts, always making herself useful and indispensable to those around her. Dr Vai wanted to hug that elderly lady patient there and then, who kept rattling away in Cantonese insisting immediate surgery to rectify her stiff lazy fingers so that she could get back to work asap.
Dr Vai, ever so observant and meticulous noticed that the old lady patient was accompanied by her daughter-in-law. The latter was seen wearing a solid full gold lady Rolex on her wrist. She seemed to be a well educated and wealthy looking daughter-in-law with a mother-in-law cleaner.
Dr Vai is still working as a consultant at Yishun hospital. There are many other interesting anecdotes from his vast medical experience. I’ll blog more and share them here if Dr Vai doesn’t mind. Suffice to say that this anecdote reaffirms our MOS Tan CJ’s controversial statement that generated so much cyber discussion. I’m also adding to the buzz. He has so far done well indeed.
A short introduction on Dr Vaikunthan Rajaratnam.
MBBS(Mal), AM(Mal), FRCS(Ed), FRCS(Glasg), FICS(USA), MBA(USA), Dip Hand Surgery(Eur), PG CertMedEd(Dundee), FHEA(UK)
Consultant Hand Surgeon, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham
Mr Rajaratnam, Consultant Hand Surgeon working in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, has more than 25 yrs experience in teaching and training doctors and medical undergraduates. He is an accredited hand surgeon and medical educator with numerous research presentation and publications in hand surgery, surgical education and management in medicine. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK and has a medical education qualification from Dundee with an MBA. He is the prime mover for two Masters programmes in hand therapy and professional administration, having developed the curriculum and e-learning course management systems. He has also worked as a management consultant to the insurance industry in developing systems for medical fraud prevention.