Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Pioneer Generation Ambassadors Appreciation Luncheon at the Yio Chu Kang Community Club on 23 July 2017.
Pioneer Generation Ambassadors, pioneers, grassroots leaders and friends.
A very good afternoon to all. 大家下午好。I am very happy to be here for this appreciation lunch to thank all the Pioneer Generation (PG) Ambassadors for your good work. This is the third year that we are having a gathering for our PG Ambassadors. It is a small gesture to thank you for all the effort you have put in for so long.
We started this PG Ambassadors Programme in August 2014. We recruited volunteers to walk the ground, engage Pioneers and their caregivers, family by family, household by household, and explained to them the benefits of the PG Package and reassure the Pioneers who have worked so hard for Singapore that they will be well taken care of.
Your role in implementing the PG Package was critical. It does not matter how well designed the Package is, because we have to close that last mile to get it to every household, to get each household to understand what is this about, how can it help them and what can they do to take full advantage of it. You were successful in doing this with many households because you were patient, committed and passionate.
It is not easy to be a PG Ambassador. We recruit many volunteers, they go through the training and some make it. Then they go house to house, few more drop out and finally we are left with the hard-core, those with the commitment, knowledge and the endurance, who have the touch, passion and can make it work.
There are a lot of things you must do. First, you must master the policy content. You must know what the PG Package is about, what are the different pieces, who gets what, how does it work and what are the rules. Originally there is only the PG Package but now you must also know about MediShield Life, Medisave, outpatient treatment at hospitals and I am sure more things to come.
There are other things now because we have expanded it beyond the Pioneer Generation to other seniors. There are other support schemes for the not quite Pioneer seniors, like the GST-Vouchers, the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme for updating HDB flats, and the Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF).
First, you must know about all these things. Secondly, you have to visit households one by one, week after week and explain what this is all about simply and clearly, tell the seniors what they need to know, in terms which make sense to them, which they can relate to.
You also have to learn how to interact with the elderly. Naturally, older people are a little bit more cautious when people approach them, as they should be. It takes a while to get to know them, to warm up. Sometimes you also have to deal with seniors who are not so happy because they may have missed out on the PGP or support schemes and you have to reassure and encourage them, try and build rapport with them.
But in the end, you have won over the seniors with your kindness of heart and your dedication. You not only closed the last mile, but continued to run the extra mile for the old people because you cared for them. For instance, in getting them help or medical attention when they need it, or just lending them a listening ear, being sympathetic and empathising with them, which sometimes is all that they need.
Because of your efforts, we have reached 7 out of every 10 seniors in Singapore, which is a remarkable achievement and I would like to thank you all very much for that good work.
The PG Ambassadors embody the same values and spirit that drove our pioneers to build Singapore. PM Lee Hsien Loong
The PG Ambassadors embody the same values and spirit that drove our pioneers to build Singapore.
PM Lee Hsien Loong
The Pioneer Ambassadors come from many different backgrounds: students, housewives, some are professionals, some are retirees, some are also fellow pioneers. 4 out of 10 PG Ambassadors are above the age of 60. Young and old, Ambassadors also benefit themselves, from engaging Pioneers.
We have for example, Mr Unni, a PG Ambassador who is 67 years old but looks like he is 50 years old. He is a former civil servant, retired now and he enjoys meeting seniors who were also civil servants. They talk about the good old days, and share their concerns and problems over cups of kopi. He spends his time in a meaningful way.
We have young ones too, like Jian Qiang, who is Year 3 in Republic Polytechnic. He is only 20 years old. One day, he was at home, the PG Ambassadors came, talked to his grandmother. He was inspired by what they were doing and he decided to become a PG Ambassador. He even persuaded two schoolmates, Yang Fan and Leroy, to also become PG Ambassadors. Jian Qiang’s experiences have given him and his friends a deeper appreciation of how hard the seniors worked to build today’s Singapore, and what their own grandparents need and what other people from their grandparents’ generation also need. In turn, that motivates them to continue serving. Having done good work, the conclusion, because this is Singapore, is that we should do even more good work.
In the next stage, we want to build on what we have been doing, and continue engaging this generation and also future generations of seniors. Last year, the PG Office and MOH started a pilot programme to integrate and pool resources for senior-related services. This included bringing together healthcare institutions – the hospitals and nursing homes – social work agencies, grassroots leaders and fellow residents, to help our seniors age well and age in place.
This is a “Community Network for Seniors” programme. Some of our PG Ambassadors champion this programme and we tried this out in some of the constituencies. In Tampines, Marine Parade and Choa Chu Kang GRCs, more than 300 PG Ambassadors participated in this programme. They brought seniors to health screening exercises, encouraged them to join group exercises with other seniors and linked the seniors up with friends in the neighbourhood.
In Tampines alone, the PG Ambassadors brought more than 200 seniors to health screening, in fact for many of them it was the first time they got themselves checked. Altogether in the three GRCs – Tampines, Marine Parade and Choa Chu Kang – the PG Ambassadors identified and brought help to almost 800 seniors. It is good work and because the scheme has succeeded, we will extend this scheme next year across the PG Ambassador network to other constituencies as well.
The PG Ambassadors will have a new mission: to deliver care and concern to the doorstep of all our seniors; to help our seniors grow old gracefully in communities of care all over Singapore. The PG Ambassadors embody the same values and spirit that drove our pioneers to build Singapore. You have shown that Singaporeans volunteered, want to serve and want to make this country better. I urge more Singaporeans to take up the challenge, become PG Ambassadors and keep the Singapore Spirit alive. Keep up the good work!
Thank you very much and an early Happy National Day to all of you.
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