Reaching out to pioneers using getai

It was a getai performance with a pioneering twist.

Emceed by veteran stage performer Lin Ru Ping, who was clad in a pouffy blue mini-dress cinched with a black sequinned belt, the concert under a white marquee along Hougang Street 61 last night was not only entertaining but educational too.

In between the song and dance numbers belted out by about nine other artists in flashy, shiny outfits, Ms Lin explained to the 1,200-strong crowd details of the Government's Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) in English, Mandarin and Chinese dialects including Hokkien and Teochew.

In front of a crowd of mostly senior citizens, she broke the ice at the start of the performance by asking those who have turned or will be turning 65 this year to raise their hands.

A smattering of hands went up, although the crowd warmed up considerably as the performance, which stretched till 10pm last night, went on.

Under the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, which was announced during this year's Budget, those aged 65 and above this year and those who became citizens before 1987 are eligible for a series of health-care subsidies.

These include annual Medisave top-ups ranging from $200 to $800 depending on age, subsidies for MediShield Life premiums and also subsidies for outpatient treatment.

About 450,000 first-generation Singaporeans are expected to benefit.

The event, titled "Thanking Our Pioneer Generation Getai Show", was organised by the Punggol South Grassroots Organisations to help elderly residents in the neighbourhood better understand their entitlements under the Package.

The show, which cost about $8,000, was fully funded by donations from three individuals from the Punggol Park Community Centre Management Committee. It was free for all attendees.

"This is the first getai in Singapore which uses this platform to reach out to seniors," Mr Gan Thiam Poh, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, told The Sunday Times.

"Senior citizens may not read newspapers or watch television, so getai can be a platform to (learn about the package) in a language close to their hearts to help them understand," he said.

The getai is the latest initiative to reach out to older, non-English-speaking Singaporeans and help inform them about the package.

Last month, a four-minute-long video clip featuring a fortune teller explaining the Pioneer Generation Package in Hokkien was posted on video-sharing platform YouTube.

The same clip was screened during yesterday's event, and drew chuckles from the crowd.

Retiree Ling Yuan De, who walked to the getai from his house across the road, said in Mandarin: "I enjoyed the getai and I thought it was a good way to introduce government policies to us."

Added the 66-year-old, who used to work in construction: "I read the newspaper, but the getai helps make things clearer."

This article was published on April 13 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.