Many elderly people affected by shutdown of Teletext, says WP chief

Many elderly people affected by shutdown of Teletext, says WP chief
Mr Lim Chan Kong, 81, has a smartphone, a tablet computer and a laptop. Dr Yaacob cited Mr Lim, who has embraced new technology, as an example that one is “never too old to learn”.

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang took aim at the Government for allowing Teletext to end, saying it affected many elderly citizens who depended on the 30-year-old analogue information service.

He asked Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday if he was aware there were "a lot of complaints on the ground from the elderly".

The service, which could be accessed by anyone with a television, was shut down on Sept 30 by MediaCorp. The state broadcaster cited declining usage as the chief reason.

Mr Low (Aljunied GRC) said that many older Singaporeans have yet to get accustomed to accessing information online.

He quoted a 2011 survey by the Infocomm and Development Authority (IDA) which found that only 15 per cent of those aged 60 and above used the Internet, while less than half of those in their 50s had used a computer or the Internet in the past 12 months.

He asked why MediaCorp was in "such a hurry" to shut down Teletext before government programmes had ensured seniors were sufficiently prepared to switch to and use the alternatives.

Dr Yaacob replied that "a long list of programmes" had been rolled out "long before 2011" to help the elderly learn how to use the Internet.

So far, about 77,000 seniors have been trained under the ongoing Silver Infocomm Initiative.

MediaCorp had found the number of people who accessed Teletext's stock price information fell from 187,000 in 2011 to 28,000 this year.

Dr Yaacob said his ministry had to "give them the leeway (to cancel Teletext) because they are basically in the market and they know better how to conduct such a service".

He also highlighted the case of 81-year-old Lim Chan Kong, who has written in to newspapers advocating the learning of new technology, as an example that one "is never too old to learn".

On Monday, Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) also called on the Government to have a "more rigorous communication and coaching plan" for senior citizens, suggesting that training could be conducted in multiple languages. Volunteers could act as "community coaches" to the elderly while the Government could highlight success stories. Dr Yaacob said his ministry would consider her suggestions.

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