Thursday, July 30, 2009


Managed to get a shot of the plane before boarding at Subang Airport.

Last Tuesday I flew to Singapore on Firefly. It was my first time flying on a twin-turbopro plane (not sure if that’s the correct name). It turned out to be a very pleasant experience. The aircraft was new, the crew was courteous and the service was efficient. Passengers were allocated seats, and served light refreshments – a muffin and an orange juice for the 60-minute flight. No need to scramble for choice seats or pay for pricey in-flight snacks. What a welcome difference compared to the service on other budget airlines where passengers have to pay for anything they consume or use.

Another plus point is all departures are from Subang Airport – so much nearer and cheaper than going all the way to KLIA. I paid less than RM100 one way for the fare to Singapore. The next time you are planning a trip south to Singapore, you might want to check out Firefly. It’s definitely easier on the pocket and more hassle-free for senior citizens. Oh, one more thing - the Subang airport terminal building has been given a major face-lift befitting an airport of the 21st century.

Subang Airport check-in counters.

Speaking as a senior citizen, every trip I make to Singapore is an enriching experience. I usually stay a week or so. There’s always something going on for senior citizens. Browse The Straits Times and you will find news reports on the latest initiatives or projects undertaken by the government. Check the events page, and you are bound to come across some talks or workshops specifically targeted at the seniors.

Here’s a sampling:

A snapshot of the news report on VISA in the Straits Times

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have teamed up to set up the Virtual Institute for the Study of Ageing (VISA). Any group working on projects related to helping the elderly can apply for funding from MCYS and have the expertise of 300 researchers from NUS at their disposal to fine-tune their projects. These researchers come from a diverse multi-disciplinary group comprising doctors, engineers, architects and social scientists.

A news write-up in The Straits Times about the Wellness Programme.

The Wellness Programme is a 2-year pilot project launched by the government at the end of 2007 to promote healthy ageing by encouraging seniors to be physically, mentally and socially active. To date, about 6,000 Singaporean seniors have signed up. The target is to get 12,000 on board. Besides regular free health screenings, there are activities like Nintendo Wii sports sessions, classes on singing, exercise, dancing, drum and percussion. One seniors centre has started a herb and vegetable garden. These are only a few of the many and varied activities enjoyed by the members.

The "Active Neighbours" initiative - article in the Business Times Weekend.

"Active Neighbours” is an initiative between Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) and Council for Third Age (C3A) to help seniors with basic banking transactions like how to use Internet banking facilities and ATM machines. There are 60 vacancies to be filled. Applicants must be aged 45+ and be prepared to put in five hours on the job two days a week. Successful applicants will be paid S$8 an hour. This gives seniors an opportunity to earn some money as well as provide assistance to their peers. POSB has found that older people feel more comfortable being guided by someone their own age than someone much younger.

Senior participants having fun at a dance workshop.

The National Arts Council (NAC) has in place a Community Participation Grant (CPG) whereby a successful grant recipient is eligible for up to S$50,000 worth of funding support a year. The grant is to encourage arts groups, NGOs or individuals to enrich the community through arts projects. One of the 10 groups awarded the grant is Arts Fission which conducts contemporary dance classes in elder care centres through their workshop called ‘The Peony Season’. Once a week for eight weeks, elderly participants follow the movements of three professional dancers. The participants can either stand or be seated, and they go through movements that are inspired by everyday actions. The workshop is therapeutic for the seniors and encourages the more timid ones to open up and make friends.

I shall be blogging from Singapore over the next few days, and sharing my observations on the latest developments for senior citizens here.

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