PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC Pioneer Generation Ambassadors Appreciation Night 2016

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 9 July 2016

PM Lee Hsien Loong thanked Pioneer Generation Ambassadors (PGA) from Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC at an Appreciation Night held at Anchorvale Community Centre on 9 July 2016.


Mr James Koh, Senior Programme Manager, Pioneer Generation Ambassadors (PGAs), Pioneers, friends, good evening to all of you. I am very happy to be here again, I was here at eight o’clock this morning. I will be here tomorrow morning and I am here tonight – for different good reasons. This morning was for a cycling activity, tonight for PGAs and tomorrow we are celebrating Sengkang West’s tenth anniversary.

This is the second time we are throwing a dinner to thank our PGAs for their good work. A big thank you to all our PG Ambassadors. Those from Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC who are here today and the many PGAs from other constituencies who have been working hard these last two years.

We set up this programme in August 2014, to reach out to Pioneers and their caregivers personally, family by family, flat by flat. Explain to them what the Pioneer Generation Package (PG Package) is, give them the assurance that it would be alright and they would be taken care of. That their government cares for them and has plans to look after them. Within these two years, we have done a lot of hard work, knocked on many doors and reached almost 300,000 Pioneers. That means seven out of ten and we had visited a third of them more than once. It is quite an impressive achievement, a lot of hard work. In Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West, as you have heard from James, we had reached nearly three-quarters of our Pioneer population – 26,300 Pioneers.

It is not easy to be a PG Ambassador. You saw the earlier video – what the experiences are like, to knock on doors, sometimes be rebuffed, sometimes to be brought in to share the family’s concerns, sorrows and anxieties. It takes passion, patience and commitment. It takes huge effort to engage our Pioneers because the older people are more cautious when people approach them, as they ought to be. Just in case the person who approaches them is trying to diddle them of their money or house or persuade them to do something foolish, so they are naturally careful of what this is about. Sometimes they are not at home, and you have to come back and knock on their door again and hope that they are at home. Even if they are at home, they are ask “Who are you”, “你来做什么? ”, “Buat apa?” and you have to overcome that first hurdle before you can start work. So thank you for your perseverance, persistence and success.

Even with this effort, we may not reach every single one of the Pioneers. Some of them will not open their doors, and sadly some of them may no long be living there or may be unwell or may have passed on. Ambassadors like you are working hard and reaching out to more Pioneers everyday so thank you very much once again.

We set up the PG Ambassador Programme to talk about the PG Package and explain the Package to Pioneers. When you knock on doors, you cannot only talk about the Package because the Package is meant to help them so naturally you start talking about them and their lives and problems and how the Package can help them. Many of the PG Ambassadors have gone the extra step to connect Pioneers with community activities so that they stay healthy and active. When PG Ambassador Yow Peng Cheong and Programme Coordinator Jade Tan visited Mdm Sim, a 87-year-old Pioneer staying in a Kampung in Lorong Buangkok, they found out that she spent most of her time at home. Which is not surprisingly because if you are 87 years old, you will also spend most of your time at home, but they encouraged her to join in community activities as she was alone at home without friends. They were very happy that they persuaded her and three months later, they saw Mdm Sim and her daughter Jasmine at a “Jalan Kayu Day” event. They managed to draw her out to engage with the community.

PG Ambassadors also help Pioneers navigate and get help from Government. Here in Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West, we have helped over 2,000 pioneers apply for financial assistance, social assistance and other help from the Government.  For example, when PGA Kumari and William Choong first visited Mr Woon Ah See, a 77-year-old Pioneer, they explained the PG Package to him. On their second visit, they learned that even though Mr Woon is physically impaired, he did not apply for the Disability Assistance Scheme for Pioneers.  So they encouraged Mr Woon and his caregivers to apply for the scheme, and even provided them with the form, filled up the form and sent in the form and very happy to learn that his application was approved. There is a monthly benefit and we hope that it will help him and his family. This shows how much effort and time the Ambassadors spent building up relationships with the Pioneers. They need to invest the time, build trust, chat and warm them up before you know what they need and how you can help.

The PG Ambassadors are communicating but beyond that, they are also connecting people and helping Pioneers to navigate among the Government plans and that means an even heavier responsibility. There will always be more things for the PG Ambassadors to do. After the PG Package, we have other schemes like Medishield Life and Silver Support. I am sure over the next few years, there will be more schemes from the Government and some of them can be quite complicated. Even when the Minister reads the scheme to approve the paper, they say “Please, Minister-in-charge, read to us slowly, tell us again.” When we can begin to slowly understand, how it can work and benefit people. We have got the PGA team which is a very good team, we should make full use of these people. Some of the ambassadors have asked if we can extend our outreach efforts to more elderly, not just the PG elderly but even the non-PG seniors who can benefit from our other schemes. We asked the Pioneer Generation Office if they can do more work and they said can do more work. What we will do is to extend outreach to cover all seniors aged 65 and above, including those who are not PG. In that way, we can take care of our seniors, whether Pioneers or not and keep in touch with them. I would say to seniors, if PG Ambassadors show up and knocks on your door, please open your door even if you are not a Pioneer. They did not come by mistake, they are trying to help you. Look for their t-shirts and logo and maybe you will hear something from them which will be able to help you. That is what we are trying to do, that is what we have made a breakthrough with this effort. We hope that you will continue to uphold this spirit, the spirit which our Pioneers launched Singapore with – kindness, respect, a shared sense of responsibility. Thank you all for all that you have done, tonight’s dinner is a small gesture to thank you for your hard work and together we can make Singapore a better home, a more caring home for our seniors, young and old.

Thank you very much.