Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The Ox has started its year of reign, although many are wishing it was the bull instead reigning in the stock markets. There's the customary lighting up of firecrackers to drive away evil spirits and bad luck. Will it be a year of boom and bloom, or doom and gloom? The jury still seems to be out on this one. Whatever the verdict, it is difficult to get into the celebratory mood this year as thousands of Malaysians have lost their jobs, with the number expected to rise further after the festival.

God of Prosperity giving out red packets (ang pows) of money .

A week before the Chinese New Year (CNY), I had no problem changing old notes for new ones at the bank. And there were stacks of ang-pow packets for the taking. During the same period last year, banks had already run out of new notes and red packets.

I was in Chinatown a few days before the Lunar New Year. The usual pre-festival crowds were missing. Only a few stalls did brisk business selling CNY decorations and foodstuff.

Chinatown minus the Chinese New Year festive cheer.

Many families opted for reunion dinners at home. At the restaurant where we had our family CNY dinner, only half the tables were occupied. Many companies are not giving their staff bonuses. With less money to celebrate, it is not surprising that people are spending less on their CNY shopping. And what about ang-pows (red packets containing money)? Fewer are given out, and fewer received. From what I have heard, the amount too has shrunk drastically.

On the bright side, prices of some products and services have gone down as supply exceeds demand. It’s easier to negotiate with landlords for lower rentals, or with car dealers for hefty discounts. Increasing prices during this period would be suicidal for most businesses. Hypermarkets, food courts and budget airlines are among the few businesses that will see profits.

It is important to maintain optimism. While the economic crisis may not affect us seniors as much as it may affect our adult children and grandchildren, it is prudent for us to tighten our belts a notch or two, and avoid dipping unnecessarily into our retirement savings and pension funds.

For the Chinese during this CNY festive season that lasts till February 9, there should be no letting up in observing traditions, especially those that bring good luck and prosperity. So immerse yourself in the colour red which symbolizes good fortune. Eat food that have auspicious names, toss yee sang (raw fish salad) to increase your chances of making money, and pray that the God of Prosperity will smile on you this year!

Surround yourself with all things red and auspicious.

Tossing yee sang for prosperity in the coming year.

Here’s wishing all my blog visitors a Happy and Prosperous New Year. We certainly need it.

Me and my grandchildren, Reiya, 3, and Max, 8. We wish you "Gong Xi Fa Cai".

Monday, January 26, 2009


Below is Bulbir's letter which was published in The Star today. He shares his opinion on nurturing children.

Doting grandpa Bulbir with two of his grandchildren.

I LIKE much of what is said by single mother "No need to please others" (Sunday Star, Jan 25). Well said in how to bring up kids of today, Chan Suet See. I am also like you in handling children and grandchildren. I believe in being a tough master here as you say “be prepared for buckets of regrets” if they do not come out right.

Take this from me - parental involvement is a major key to success of kids at home, in school and in life. And for great bonding, we must be involved with our children and keep them away from any bad influence at an early age. Parents need to take on the responsibility of teaching children good values and ethics that should stand them good all their lives.

Quality family time at home

Some parents today say they have limited time and there is so little they can do for them. Others maintain that economic and social conditions keep them away from the young ones. Some are forced to work long hours. That is a reality.

But can we leave it like this? No. To me, whatever little time we spend with our children counts. I mean quality time. We should show that they are our priority. We can read to them, play with them, or assist them with their homework.Teachers can only find little time to work one -on -one with your children. Bear in mind that God holds parents, not teachers, ultimately responsible for the upbringing of children.


Sunday, January 25, 2009


Time for a much needed dose of feel-good medicine. Nothing like some self-deprecating humour to do the trick. Thank you, Henry Cheong of Melbourne, for reminding us not to take old age too seriously :-)!

Ya, right, gramps! We all go through phases.

Seeing double - and double the joy!

Nothing like celebrating with a puff from your birthday cake!

I could have sworn it was up there before.

Giving new meaning to "Get Lost!"
That's the strangest 4-wheel drive I've ever seen!

Is grandma a total embarrassment or the pride of the family?
Dirty old hand!

Doesn't matter - I'm here for the free beer!

Mind those dentures!

Grandma's motorcade.

Always wear your safety helmet if nothing else!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I stayed up till 4.00am local time to watch the live telecast of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. Well, the celebration's over. For President Obama, the real task of governing has begun.

How many of his campaign promises will he honour now that he is president? What compromises will he be forced to make, being the pragmatist that he is.

Social Security

~Protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike.
~No to raising the retirement age.
~No to privatizing Social Security.
~Those making over $250,000 will contribute 2%-4% more to Social Security to keep it sound.

Retirement Savings

~Ensure that bankruptcy courts do not demand more sacrifice from workers than executives.
~Tell companies that they cannot issue executive bonuses while cutting worker pensions. ~Increase the amount of unpaid wages and benefits workers can claim in court.
~Limit the circumstances under which retiree benefits can be reduced.
~Require Full Disclosure of Company Pension Investments.
~Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less Than $50,000.
~Create Automatic Workplace Pensions.
~Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families.
~Prevent Age Discrimination

Affordable Health Care

~Provide Cheaper Prescription Drugs.
~Allow seniors to import safe prescription drugs from overseas. This will prevent pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheap and safe generic drugs from the market.
~Protect and Strengthen Medicare.
~Provide Transparency to Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.
~Strengthen Long-Term Care Options.
~Train more nurses and health care workers.

Protect and Honor Seniors

~Ensure Heating Assistance: increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps low-income citizens — many of them seniors — pay their winter heating and summer cooling bills.
~Support Senior Volunteer Efforts: engage more interested seniors into public service opportunities by expanding and improving programs like Senior Corps to connect seniors with quality volunteer opportunities.

Click here to view the retirement benefits American citizens currently enjoy. Can retirees and pensioners in Malaysia hope for similar benefits? Or are we much better off than our American counterparts? For a look at pension funds and retirement funds in Malaysia, click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today is Martin Luther King Day. It's not marked on the calendar in Malaysia or Singapore, and most folks in the region probably have never heard of this man who gave President-elect Barack Obama the courage to dream and the audacity to follow that dream all the way to the White House.

But what impacted me was how the day is always celebrated in the US - with community service. Today, 19 January 2009, which is also the eve of the inauguration of the first African-American President, who better exemplifies this spirit of service than Obama himself?

A day before he takes the oath to serve the nation and its people, Obama appealed to all Americans to honour the Reverend MLK through service to others. He followed up on his words by visiting a military hospital and talking to the wounded troops there, and then dropping by at an emergency shelter for homeless teens where he helped to paint the walls. He said there can't be any "idle hands" at a time of national hardship.

How can one not be inspired by Obama?

To quote former US President Franklin Roosevelt, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

And here's how we seniors can do our part, either as an individual or as a group.

~ For those of us with money to spare, we can donate to a deserving charity or a noble cause. Even RM10 can go a long way if many contribute.

Helping the less fortunate through World Vision.

A bag of rice goes a long way for the poorest of the poor.

~ For those of us with time to spare, we can volunteer to help out at welfare organizations or community support groups.

~ For those of us with energy to spare, we can start our own project to raise funds for charity, or create awareness for the less fortunate in society.

Volunteers busy packing bags of food and provisions for distribution.

Recent research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life.

And get this: Older individuals who volunteer demonstrate greater health benefits than do younger volunteers, due in part to the fact that volunteer activities by older individuals are more likely to provide them with a purposeful social role.

So age does matter in this case.

Count me in as a volunteer. I want to enjoy better health in my old age. Don't you?

Friday, January 16, 2009


World Peace begins with us. Teach our children and grandchildren to love one another and accept differences in others so that they will grow up to honour and respect all God's children, regardless of colour, creed or religion. The kind of world our children will inherit depends on the values we pass on to them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, addressing the crowd at the opening of 50+ Expo.

I recently spent two days (10-11 January) checking out Singapore's first 50+ Expo. Touted as the island nation's biggest exposition for baby boomers, it was expected to draw 70,000 visitors. Admission was free, hence the huge turnout. A total of 150 exhibitors took up the entire 4th floor of the Suntec Convention Centre. They were categorized into five zones: Health & Fitness, Living, Innovation & Learning, Travel & Holidays and Personal Finance, each with a central pavilion and a colour code for easy identification.

The early birds on the first day.

Activities aplenty to enlighten and entertain the visitors.

The organizers, Council for Third Age, had obviously done their homework. They were spot-on when it came to identifying the interests of the seniors. Aside from the exhibitors' booths offering products and services at discounted prices, there were activities to engage the visitors, hourly lucky draws, talks on health, finance, travel and lifestyle, free health screenings and stage performances, including one from the local Elvis Fan Club.

At the dental health talk given by Dr Cheng from Specialist Dental Group.

Learning how to blog at the Innovation and Learning pavilion.

Some of the exhibitors at the Personal Finance zone.

At the JP International Travel booth minutes before the doors open.

Kudos to the organizers for being mindful of the needs of the elderly crowd. Not only was there a first-aid booth, but also rest areas where visitors could sit down and take a break, or enjoy a foot massage. The toilets were clean and easily accessible - a definite plus point.

Dancing to music from the silver crooners on their ukuleles.

So many happy feet!

I'd never seen so many seniors gathered in one place. If the younger folks were avoiding the expo like the plague, thinking the whole hall must be filled with decrepit, senile human specimens reeking of mothballs and mildew, they should think again. Everywhere I looked, I saw feisty seniors - all eager to try the interactive games, join the line-dancing or find out more about the products on sale. I was more interested in the talks. At the eye screening after the talk on "Take a close look at your eyes", I was relieved to find out from ophthamologist Dr Au Eong that I do not have cataract or glaucoma.

Trail blazer and adventurer extraordinaire, Daniel Koh, 72, sharing a presentation of his travels to Patagonia and the Antarctic. Daniel was the winner of the Active Ager-Prudential Prime Award 2008.

When it was time to leave, my 50+ Expo tote bag was bursting at the seams with an assortment of health supplements, nutritious snacks, seniors magazines and discount vouchers of every description and denomination.

Apparently, expos targeting the mature consumers are held in many other countries. The largest is Holland’s 50 Plus Beurs. Last year, it attracted 600 exhibitors and close to 100,000 visitors. The silver market is proving to be a gold mine for businesses catering to the needs of the baby boomers.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian business community is standing on the sidelines watching the silver bullet train about to take off and wondering whether to jump on or not. By the time they have made up their mind, they would have missed the train. So what's new?

Friday, January 9, 2009


A 2-day conference on REINVENTING RETIREMENT ASIA 2009 is currently being held in Singapore from 8-9 January. Registration had closed by the time I found out about it. So the next best thing is to share the media reports with you. All credit and acknowledgement to The Straits Times, Singapore.

Below are two extracts of the Prime Minister's speech at the conference. To read more, please click on the highlighted links.

Prime Minister Lee said that Singapore's health-care system for the elderly combines self-reliance with community and state support. -- PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Jan 8, 2009 ST.com News: Work as long as you can

PM Lee said that older workers must be prepared to adjust to lighter work and less pay in order to remain employable. -- ST FILE PHOTO

CONTINUE working for as long as you can. This is the advice from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to older and retired Singaporeans, who he said should stay active and engaged as they can still contribute much to the workforce and community. But to support older workers, many social attitudes and institutional structures established when life expectancies were shorter and Singapore's population was younger will have to change, said Mr Lee, pointing out that by 2030, one-fifth of the population will be 65 years and older. This is nearly one million people, three times the number today. Mr Lee cited the wage structures and employment terms as examples which need to be updated. Speaking at a conference on reinventing retirement on Thursday morning, PM L...

Click here for to read the full story.

Jan 9, 2009ST.com News: Self-reliance key in S'pore

A FREE health-care system is an attractive ideal. But it leads to uncontrollable demand for health care, which then becomes 'far from free to the society as a whole', Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday. Instead, the Singapore style is to combine self-reliance with community and state support in caring for the elderly, he said. This formula also applies to financial security for the old, another top concern. 'It is also important that each individual takes personal responsibility, plans ahead, anticipates and prepares for his later years,' he said. 'Our system therefore encourages self-reliance, with the Government playing an enabling role to help each person build up his individual assets and savings, through home ownership and the Central Provident F...

Click here to read the full story.

Although they are well into their 70s, (from left) Mr Kuan Ting Chee, Mr Chiang Keng Hong and Mr Lai Kay Pak have no intention of retiring any time soon. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Click here for the full text.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Today’s the first day of 2009. Let’s start off the new year on a positive note by debunking some of the myths associated with ageing. When we buy into these myths, we are reinforcing the negative image society has of us. It’s time we put to rest these false beliefs.

Myth #1 – As we age, we become frail and sickly.Not if we take early preventive measures like regular resistance exercise, tai-chi, proper and sufficient nutrition, yearly checks for testosterone deficiency and an active lifestyle.

Myth #2 – As we age, our sexual interest and performance diminish.In a national survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults aged 57 to 85, it was found that more than half to three-quarters of those questioned remain sexually active. Lack of sexual desire may not necessarily be age-related. Often it could be due to tiredness, stress or simply bedroom boredom. Try something different. Add a little romance, or pop a little blue pill, and enjoy the fireworks under the sheets!

Romance is for everyone!

Myth #3 – As we age, we lose our mental faculties. Memory loss, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia may afflict some older folks but if we keep physically and mentally active when we are young, we can delay the onset of Alzheimer's or stay free of it altogether.

Exercising together can be fun!

Myth #4 – As we age, it’s hard to learn new things.It all boils down to one’s attitude towards learning new things. Old people may take a little longer to figure out how to upload a video on Youtube, but they will get to it.

Myth #5 – As we age, it’s too late to make positive changes in our lifestyles.That’s just an excuse for some people to cling to bad habits like smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. It's never too late where our health is at stake.

Mama Mia! Meryl Streep turns a fabulous 60 this year!

While ageing is a natural process, and all of us go through it, the rate at which we do so is a highly individual experience. Some age faster than others. Some age gracefully, others don’t. It depends on how we approach the process.

We must not underestimate the power of auto-suggestion. As we believe, so we become. If we keep worrying about health problems, we'll not have peace of mind. If we think sexual intimacy is for the young, we’ll never get to enjoy it with our spouse. If we allow society to dictate to us how we seniors should live or behave, we’ll never be free to fully enjoy our second prime.

The MacArthur Foundation Study is the most extensive study to date on ageing in America. The results reveal that it is largely our lifestyle that determines our health and vitality. Only 30% of physical ageing can be blamed on our genes. Now that should come as good news to us. It is within our power to decide how we want to age and how long we want to live.

In their book, "How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life", Mark Victor Hansen, 58, co-creator of the Chicken Soup series, and Art Linkletter, 97, TV host of popular shows like "Kids say the Darndest Things" (I love that show!) have this to share:

"Today we're living so much longer and more productively that age sixty has truly become the new age forty - the prime of life when our careers are in full swing, our minds are at their most creative, and our passions burn their hottest."

Let's celebrate LIFE, and be thankful for all our blessings.


The Palm Springs Follies - cast members are 58-84 years young!
Click here for a video preview of their dazzling 3-hour performance.
Enjoy and be inspired to live life whatever your age!