Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who chairs a new People's Action Party seniors group (PAP.SG), speaks to Andrea Ong about the advocacy group and tackling ageism. She also takes stock of her first year as Speaker and Parliament's performance ahead of its mid-term break this year.
Q: During the recent PAP convention, the party announced the PAP Seniors Group which you are chairing. Why did the PAP decide to set up this group and what are your key priorities and aims?
Because of the rapidly ageing population, the number of elderly people has increased tremendously. The party wanted to have a greater focus on their needs and how to serve them, very much like what we have done for the women as well as the young. The objective of PAP.SG is essentially to raise issues or to help shape policies and programmes on cross-cutting issues affecting our seniors on matters like their quality of life, the manner of their care as well as their security.
In addition to advocacy or helping to shape policies and programmes, we also want to look at ways of encouraging greater volunteerism, both among our healthy seniors as well as among the young people to support our frail seniors and to look also at innovative practices to reach out to our seniors and support them. The other thing we want to do is to tap on the knowledge and experience of our senior party activists, so they can help our younger activists and mentor them.
We also hope to give input on and shape the outcome of the Medishield Life review.
Q: What is the timeline that you are working on?
This is an issue that is not something you can prescribe a timeline for. Because if you look at ageing issues, they are really complex, multidimensional. You can't possible say, okay, let's have it within one year and that's it, the issues and problems will be over.