Never mind that Singapore will be a super-aged society in 2026, with more than one in five people here aged 65 or older.
“We are in a position to cushion the impact of ageing, and perhaps even reap dividends from it,” said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung to Parliament on Apr 20.
He highlighted that the PAP Government has prepared for this silver wave in five key areas, urban development, adapting Singapore’s economy to an ageing population, retirement adequacy, reforming the healthcare system and good governance.
1. Urban development
Living closely together lets Singaporeans build close connections with each other, and the PAP Government will build senior-inclusive communities this way.
Queenstown, for example, is what every town in Singapore will look like in future. It has Health Districts which keep seniors included in the community through integrated planning, evidence-based design of living spaces.
Community initiatives, including physical activities, and befriending programs are also available for senior support.
“What left the deepest impression on me was HDB’s effort in planning. To ensure intergenerational mixing, HDB is redeveloping the old areas, launching new BTO projects to inject a younger population into the town,” said Minister Ong.
These BTO projects in fact integrate Community Care apartments for seniors. This while the PAP Government continues to encourage intergenerational mixing in younger towns like Sembawang with different flat types, and with more Silver Zones all over Singapore.
2. Adapting Singapore’s economy
As for the Singapore economy, our labour force is being bolstered, and is shifting.
The retirement and reemployment ages were 60 and 65 in the past respectively. Now, they are 63 and 60 and the Ministry of Manpower will raise them to 65 and 70 by 2030.
“Raising our retirement and reemployment ages does not affect the retirement savings that people have built up in their CPF accounts,” reassured Minister Ong.
Workforce Singapore also has launched HerCareer to encourage more women to come back to work.
3. Retirement adequacy
Programs like CPF LIFE, WorkFare and the Silver Support Scheme will ensure that retirees are well-taken care of.
“With the CPF system, we avoided the major problems faced by pension systems around the world,” outlined Minister Ong.
However, someone who lives longer may see his or her CPF savings run out before passing on.
“Hence in 2009, we introduced the CPF LIFE scheme, Singaporeans turning 65 in 2023 who meet a stipulated level of savings in their CPF accounts are automatically enrolled in CPF LIFE,” said Minister Ong.
Here, CPF LIFE provides a steady stream of monthly payouts for as long as someone lives, so he or she can enjoy these golden years.
4. Reform of the healthcare system
“It is like you have been training very hard for a sprint. And then you realise your race is a marathon,” said Minister Ong on how longer lifespans are upending existing healthcare systems.
So Healthier SG was designed to deliver preventive care by building up primary care. Family physicians, community and polyclinics are becoming Singapore’s foundational level of healthcare.
But community support is needed too, to encourage people to (among others) sleep well, eat well, nurture rewarding relationships, exercise, don’t smoke, and take periodic health screening and vaccinations.
“The Government will provide the support and structure for individuals to take care of their own health,” said Minister Ong.
“But then beyond the relationship between individual and the state, the community is at the core of the healthcare social compact.”
5. Good governance
This involves responsible stewardship.
“The pension systems in the Western developed countries are contributing to significant national debt, which burdens future generations,” said Minister Ong.
“So inherently the pension crisis is the government’s inability to look after both the current and future generations.
What about our Singapore way, though?
“We consciously avoided those problems, and in fact, have built up a national nest egg in our reserves,” said Minister Ong.
“We are drawing income from it and want our future generations to continue to benefit from it.”
“It is ironic that the challenge of ageing came out of good things: People living longer, due to medical advances and better quality of life. The fertility rate coming down as aspirations changed and women get more educated,” concluded the Minister.
“Perhaps the state of being a super-aged society, can ultimately, and overall be a good thing. Where people live long, fruitful lives, where there is health, longevity, where here is warmth and care in every community — and we look out for each other,”.
“And perhaps one day after we tackle the challenges of a super-aged society with our Singapore Spirit, we can reach the stage where society treats age as nothing but a number.”
Source: MCI, Ministry of Health