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Mr Sitoh Yih Pin

Adviser to Potong Pasir SMC GROs


Mr Patrick Lee

Chairman, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital


Board Members


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


1.       I am very happy to join you today for Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital’s 112th celebration and the official opening of Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital @ Potong Pasir.


2.       But I need to say a few thank yous first. The first thank you is to KWSH for your very significant contributions to our nation’s healthcare sector for 112 years. Of course, 112 years is longer than the duration of our nationhood. Thank you very much for that. Through the decades, you moved with the times, evolving and adapting your services as the needs of our population change and you are able to move along with it, which explains your longevity and your history.


3.       The past two and half years, we know, has been especially difficult. Now, we don’t wear masks but later, when we go out to the nursing home, MOH rules say that you have to wear masks. But those are the last few rules left. Over the last two and a half years, you went through many rules, many necessary interventions, to keep your premises safe. But throughout this period, all staff of KWSH has demonstrated professionalism and dedication in safeguarding the health and well-being of all your stakeholders and especially of your residents. I thank you too, for soldiering with us as one healthcare system to overcome the pandemic So thank you very much for that too.


4.       I also want to express my appreciation to the grassroots organisation of Potong Pasir, led by Mr Sitoh Yih Pin. You have a very nice TCM clinic here, I think you have been bringing a lot of residents here. Mr Sitoh Yi Pin said the charges here are extremely reasonable. So I am sure that you continue to be a very integral part of this community. The grassroot adviser in a place like Potong Pasir is like a village chief who tries to take care of everything as best as he can. Not to forget, to MOH too, it is very important that we have KWSH as a partner, to work very closely with Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I have said last week we have three healthcare clusters and each one has a different characteristic and specific strength. For Tan Tock Seng Hospital, it is especially strong in serving community,  working with community partners and I am glad that we have  a partner in you. This is your second nursing home and I am very well aware that there is another one next to Kallang Polyclinic. I went to open Kallang Polyclinic, I drove past KWSH but I couldn’t visit it. One day, I will visit it. Thank you very much for your partnership with Ministry of Health.


5.       Let me move to talk about KWSH. This year, you have achieved another milestone with the official opening of this nursing home, which is your second nursing home. 438 beds but can’t open everything yet. We are all short on manpower but I think that opening the first 100-plus beds has been very important. It adds a lot more resilience in the whole pandemic because with extra beds, we can transfer patients from hospital to nursing home, freeing up the wards. Free up the wards, and we can ride through the pandemic, You may or may not realise but indirectly, you are really helping us ride through the pandemic. This new nursing home will continue to advance the mission of KWSH to provide quality healthcare to our seniors.


KWSH @ Potong Pasir


6.       I want to also talk about another facility here. On top of the TCM clinic, which is your Active Ageing Centre (AAC). We changed the name over the months and years, but I think we have settled on AAC now. You have one now, you will have four around Singapore. I want to express my appreciation and express my satisfaction that we have strengthened our partnership, so the AAC has received the Transition Grant from MOH to enhance the capabilities, expand the range of services you deliver from here for the seniors that you serve.


7.       This Centre has been providing maintenance day care, dementia day care, community rehabilitation, nursing services since April this year. It is expected to reach at least 350 seniors residing in Potong Pasir within the first year of its operations and target to reach at least 1,000 seniors.


8.       With the Transition Grant, it will now do more. It will conduct general outreach and active ageing programmes for seniors. For example, it can conduct weekly visits to seniors who live alone here, and to ensure that their needs are well met.


9.       You will also expand meaningful programmes to keep seniors engaged socially and emotionally. For example, for your collaboration with the students from St Andrew’s Secondary School, I think it is very precious. When you have a school next to you, next to a nursing home, and you bring them together as one community – old folks, young people, interact together. Even when you are old, you feel a bit young. For the students, it is a very good values-in-action, speaking as former Minister for Education. Sometimes the lessons they learn, much more important than what they learn through examinations and studying in the classrooms.


10.      Another important role for the Active Ageing Centre is to involve more volunteers. I am glad that you have a big team of volunteers. Let’s try to work with Adviser Sitoh, and bring in more volunteers, so that we can really make this a very vibrant hub to take care of our seniors and more vulnerable members of our society.


Action Plan for Successful Ageing


11.      Now, let me talk about something a bit broader, which Mr Patrick Lee mentioned. Today is “IDOL”, the International Day of Older Persons. I don’t know if there is a cut-off for the definition of an older person. I assume you get the name “IDOL” for a specific purpose. The International Day of Older Persons is a day for all of us because we are always older than somebody else. If you are a teenager, you are older than a kid. You have different challenges, compared to a kid. Teenagers go through quite a bit these days. You are in your 20s, it is a different phase in life as you are starting work. I am in my 50s, I think I am also an older person. When I compare myself to when I was in my 40s, the body is not the same as before. Then when you reach Mr Patrick Lee’s age, and he is older than me, so he has other challenges. All of us keep progressing in age. The body gets weaker but we always lament, how come it is not like the past. But as we get older, we also realised we gain in other things. We gain knowledge, we gain experience, we gain wisdom. We can gain a lot more friends. So age is just something we all have to go through, as we move through age, we have to make sure that we progress with it. Just like KWSH. 112 years old, keep on progressing with it. Accept the age but make the best out of the age. From what Mr Patrick Lee said just now, you preserve a building, you don’t just preserve the bricks and mortar. You preserve the spirit, the 灵魂, so likewise for a person, as we get older, we take care of the health, we take care of the body. But you must preserve the spirit of a person. The energy, the dynamism is still inside every person, including old people. 我们保留旧的建筑,但是不只是保留这个建筑,我们保留它的灵魂。人也是一样,要照顾好一个人的身体。不管几岁也要照顾好我们的身体。但是最重要的是保留它内心的灵魂,老人也有,年轻人也有。这是最重要的。So to do that, we need to look at ageing differently. Nursing homes are needed but we need to find ways as our society get older, preserves everyone’s spirit.


12.      This is something, a major topic. Next week, we have a debate in Parliament on White Paper on Healthier SG, so I will see if I can speak more about it next week in Parliament.


13.      We have been working on this in MOH. We have a committee called the Ministerial Committee on Ageing (MCA). Many different agencies coming together and we had a round of Action agenda that was released sometime ago, a few years ago. But we are now refreshing the agenda. The Committee, having brought together everyone, has strengthened the agenda, make it more robust. Essentially it is a series of actions, programmes and initiatives on the ground, involving different agencies and also our community partners.


14.      The focus is on community interventions, when we launched the Action Plan for Successful Ageing in 2015, there were 70 initiatives across various domains. They involved senior volunteerism, lifelong learning, infrastructure, health and wellness. It also included the launch of the Merdeka and Pioneer Generation packages.


15.      Having done all our work, we have concluded our recommendations. We are finalising the report, and we intend to launch the new Action Plan early next year.


16.      In gist, the refreshed Action Plan will centre around three areas. One is ‘Care’ – making sure that seniors are well taken care of; second is ‘Contribution’ – to ensure that they continue to learn, continue to contribute to people around them, the community and the society;  and lastly, ‘Connectedness’ which is essential – to make sure that they continue to interact people, continue to have a social circle and preserving the human spirit.




17.      In closing, I would like to congratulate KWSH on the opening of this facility and for 112 years of serving the community. I am confident that KWSH will continue to uphold your ethos of providing affordable and quality healthcare to the sick and needy. I look forward to the continued strong partnership with KWSH.


Thank you very much.

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