Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Wings Pioneer Generation Night-Out Gala Dinner, 20 November 2014

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health

Dr Kanwaljit Soin, Founding President of WINGS

Ms Anthea Ong, President of WINGS

Dr Aline Wong, Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon,

WINGS Women Pioneers

Ladies and Gentlemen


                Good evening.

 2.            I am very happy to join you here this evening.

 3.            We are here to celebrate with our Pioneer Generation Women. At the same time, WINGS is also raising funds to support its programmes.

 4.            About half of you in the audience today are Pioneers, and this dinner is part of a nation-wide effort to honour your contribution to Singapore. The Pioneer Generation Package was rolled out earlier this year, to honour and thank each of you for your dedication and invaluable contributions to nation-building. Thank you for giving us what we have today.

 Action Plan for Successful Ageing

 5.            Beyond the current Pioneer Generation Package, we are planning ahead to prepare Singapore for a fast-ageing population in the next one to two decades.

 6.            The post-Pioneer Generation seniors – those who are currently in their 40s to early 60s – will have different outlook and aspirations. We will have different perspectives towards ageing. Even while we are implementing the Pioneer Generation Package, we are developing a new action plan to ensure that future generations of Singaporeans will continue to age confidently and successfully, in a nation suitable for all ages.

 7.            The Action Plan for Successful Ageing is a whole of nation effort. The government is working with partners from various organisations, such as academia, non-government organisations, religious groups, grassroots organisations and unions, to gather views and to work on new initiatives to build a Nation for All Ages. To-date, we have held over 35 focus group discussions and spoken to over 800 participants on the Action Plan.

 WINGS for Successful Ageing

 8.            WINGS is one of the partners that we have been working with. The Ministry of Health first approached WINGS in June this year to discuss issues relating to women and ageing. We are keen to engage WINGS’ members and hear their views on what successful ageing means to them. We held a series of three focus group discussions with WINGS’ members between July and September.

 9.            Through the focus group discussions, many participants shared their aspirations and wishes to continue to learn, to work, and to stay healthy so that they can make meaningful contributions to their families and society, and enjoy life to the fullest.

 10.         We also received feedback on some of the challenges faced by women as they age. The role of caregivers in the family often falls on women. Caregivers face challenges such as having little time for themselves, financial strain, and emotional and physical stress. Some caregivers also give up their jobs to provide care, and find it difficult to re-integrate to the workplace when their caregiving roles have stopped. Some of the focus group participants felt that we can do better in helping older women especially those who are caregivers stay employed or re-employed, such as to encourage employers to offer flexible work arrangements like part-time work or tele-commuting. Among the interesting suggestions raised on how to support caregivers, participants mooted a caregiver hotline where they can get information and referral services on care for the elderly.

 11.         MOH has already acted on some of these suggestions. For instance, the Agency for Integrated Care, or AIC, recently launched the Singapore Silver Line in September. Caregivers and seniors can call 1800-650-6060 toll-free to get information on eldercare and caregiver support services in Singapore. Earlier in the year, MOH has also launched weekend respite care services at eight centres across Singapore in July where caregivers can have their seniors cared for and take time off to recharge. This is on top of our nursing home respite service which is currently offered by more than 10 nursing homes.

 12.         I would like to thank those of you who participated in our focus group discussions for your candid sharing and feedback during these sessions. We will take these suggestions into consideration as we work with our partners to develop the Action Plan further.

 Enabling Women to Age with Confidence

 13.         Our collaboration with WINGS will go beyond simply gathering your views. As part of the Action Plan, we also hope to work hand-in-hand with WINGS to develop new initiatives to enable women to age with confidence.

 14.         WINGS has done much good work in championing successful ageing for women, empowering them to take responsibility for their own health, security and happiness. WINGS has also launched efforts to promote employment among women. This has allowed women to make a difference for themselves, their families and the community. Thus far, WINGS has reached out to more than 31,000 participants through their various programmes and initiatives. 

 15.         To contribute to the Action Plan for Successful Aging, WINGS intends to develop a tailored curriculum to empower vulnerable women and their families with the knowledge and skills to achieve happiness, mental wellness, physical health and financial security in their silver years. WINGS will also train mentor volunteers who can in-turn support other women in the community. MOH will support this new initiative by WINGS.


 16.         I would like to thank WINGS for organising this meaningful dinner for a good cause and to celebrate our Pioneer Generation Women. I would also like to thank the volunteers who are here today to spend time getting to know our Pioneers better.

 17.         Finally, to our Pioneer Generation Women, thank you for joining us this evening. I hope that all of you will continue to stay happy, healthy and active.

 18.         Thank you.


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