Singapore GE2020: PAP new face Yip Hon Weng has plans for the elderly in Yio Chu Kang if elected

SINGAPORE – New face Yip Hon Weng has plans to support the elderly residents in Yio Chu Kang SMC if elected, the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate told the media on Wednesday (July 8).

These plans include taking care of their mental well-being, fostering more inter-generation interaction between the youth and the elderly, and helping senior caregivers access resources and help.

This is also an extension of the work Mr Yip, 43, had done earlier, as the former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care. The AIC serves seniors and their caregivers.

He is up against Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Kayla Low, 43, a chartered accountant and former prisons officer in Friday’s (July 10) general election. She also volunteers with low-income families and the elderly.

An estimated 40 per cent of the constituency, which has 26,005 voters, is made up of senior citizens from the Merdeka and Pioneer Generation. The area also has about 70 blocks of flats, seven condominiums and two landed estates. 

Mr Yip, who was speaking at Block 123, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 on the last day of campaigning, said: “I hope to (also have) inter-generational programmes. This is an aged estate, so we (can) work out some programmes where we get the younger ones to interact with the older residents here, maybe with some visitations or forms of activities… We can foster a stronger community spirit.”

He added: “A lot of people talk about infrastructure development but I think that the programming and having services to come in is important (as well).”

He also noted that mental health care is important, especially for seniors who live alone and may feel lonely or have depression.

“Can we bring in some services and programmes to address these (issues)? Can we get more befrienders to talk to them on a regular basis?”

Another issue he noticed was that some seniors were being cared for by elderly family members who were prone to frailty themselves.

“How can we improve the caregiving resources here? It can be, for instance, providing a platform where caregivers can connect with each other so that they can share issues, concerns and suggestions to help each other. Perhaps there can also be a better way of getting resources to caregivers, (such as) where they can look for help and which number to call.”

He also has plans for the younger residents, including ways to get the youth to help others with their studies, for instance.

Community programmes and webinars on topics such as job seeking during this pandemic can also help the youth.

“I intend to do more of these activities where we can talk about some of these issues that youths are very much interested in and that are acutely affecting them,” he said.

Mr Yip acknowledged that it is not easy to be a new face fielded in an SMC.

“In an SMC you’re in a way competing alone. I think I have to fight very hard here. But you also have a bit more autonomy in how you run your campaign and operations on the ground during these nine days.”

He added: “I think it will be a tough fight. I will do my best to win this election.”

He also said that his previous experience in the civil service was not typical in the sense that he held stints in ground operations, such as running the Silver Generation Office. He was also part of the team that set up the Municipal Services Office.

“You really have to get your hands dirty, be innovative and be willing to try and fail and push boundaries. (It also) required me to walk the ground very often to meet my counterparts in statutory boards and town councils… and talk to residents. It is not the typical civil servant path… and I think it has put me in good stead for this (role) going forward.”

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