The following has been contributed by, John Woo.
When the young nation of Singapore became independent in 1965, few expected her to survive as she has nothing to feed her population of 1 million people.
Within a short span of 50 years, not only did she survive, she went on to become the renowned financial hub dubbed as The Switzerland of Asia.
What Singapore has accomplished in just half a century is indeed amazing. This would not have been possible if not for the group of men and women from the pioneer generation who offered their blood, toil, sweat and tears for the nation.
Among the pioneer generation folks were those who served the first batch of National Service in 1967 and underwent the tough regimental army training so that they could protect the nation; those who took up tough and back-breaking jobs in the ports and shipyards in order to keep the entrepot going; those who toiled to build and construct public housing for the nation; those who worked long hours in factories just to keep the economy going. And many, many more.
Thus, as the nation inches toward its 50th National Day, it is only appropriate for the government to roll out the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) as a gesture to honour and thank these pioneer generation folks, numbering about 450,000, for their contribution and sacrifice for the nation.
Backed by an $8billion fund set aside by the government in its 2014 budget, the Pioneer Generation Package will be used to assure the pioneer generation folks that they do not need to worry about their healthcare costs in their old age.
Under the package, pioneer generation folks will enjoy the below benefits for the rest of their life:
1) Subsidy of up to 85% of outpatient care;
2) Enhanced Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS);
3) Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme;
4) Annual Medisave Top-Ups;
5) Medishield Life.
The ability to set aside $8 billion to thank the pioneer generation folks is not a feat that should be taken for granted.
What is $8b? You can either see it as the contributions of GIC or an entire year’s GST collections in the annual National Budget,
It is an option not many other nations have. This is possible for Singapore because of a government which is known for its financial prudence and its hardworking people.
Had the pioneer generation folks been self-serving, opting for instant gratification, this may not have been possible and we would have gone the way of many credit burdened countries.
Will we learn from the Pioneer Generations of today? Will the next generation of Singaporeans be celebrate for us 50 years from now?