Sunday, July 31, 2011


Those of us who think that at 60 and above, it's time to hang up our dancing shoes and put our singing days behind us can draw inspiration from these veterans of entertainment.

Meet 94-year-old Reynaldo Creagh. He was in Singapore last month together with Maracaiboand, 86, and pianist Rubalcaba, 85. Together they are "The Grandfathers of Cuban Music".

Also in Singapore last month was Ruth Flowers better known as DJ Mamy Rock. She first gained fame on the world stage when she spun music at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. Today at the age of 71, she still gets invited to deejay at prestigious clubs and music festivals all over the world.

The world's oldest showgirl, Dorothy Kloss, is now 87, and still doing her high kicks with the world-renown Palm Spring Follies, an off-broadway revue that celebrates the songs and dances of the 1940s through to the 1970s. What's remarkable about the Follies is their age which range from 50s to 80s.

A trip to LA to see the Palm Spring Follies at Plaza Theatre is definitely on my bucket list. Remember the Diamonds and their 1957 hit "Little Darlin"? They will be performing in the Follies' new season.

These grandpas and grandmas are living the best years of their lives. For them, life has never slowed down, and never been sweeter.

We have all heard this said a godzillion times before: Age is just an attitude. If you think you are old, you ARE old. It's about mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Age is of no importance unless you are cheese.

Well, as long as we merely know this, but do not internalize it or live it, we will always look old, feel old and be OLD, even at 40.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Singapore's richest people. (Source: Straits Times 29 July)
Yesterday I received a call from my bank. It seems my very modest investment in a unit trust fund has tripled in value over a period of 10+ years. Great news indeed till I read in the Straits Times today Forbes latest list of Singapore's wealthiest people. Some of these individuals have doubled their wealth in BILLIONS in just ONE year.

Malaysia's richest people.
The richest Singaporean is Wee Cho Yaw, 82, chairman of United Overseas bank, and for Malaysia it is Sugar King, Robert Kuok, 87. They are worth USD4.2 billion and USD12.5 billion respectively. Compare their wealth with the richest man on this planet, Carlos Slim, 71, who is worth an astronomical USD74 billion.

Forbes 2011 list of the world's richest people.
The majority of these wealthy individuals in Singapore and Malaysia made their money in real estate, hotels, petrochemicals, retail, banking and telecommunications. Indeed, it's a very diversified investment portfolio for many of these billionaires.

It takes money to make money. So the rich get richer. But then again, not all these billionaires started off rich. Apart from those who inherited their wealth, there are those who have put in years of toil and sweat to get to where they are now. These are the people who inspire the rest of us, and show us that dreams can come true provided we keep our focus.

Singapore billionaire Sam Goi, 62, is one of these self-made billionaires. Known as the "Popiah King", his company produces 35 million pieces of popiah skins a day, exported to 49 countries worldwide. His net worth: USD1.2 billion.

If it's all about hard work, vision and passion, there's hope for the rest of us yet to make it to our country's list of wealthiest people. Any takers for exporting wantan skin?

But it's not all peachy and rosy for the rich, if you read the editorial in the Straits Times today. The rich have their problems as well, and depression is one of them.
Straits Times 29 July
In a separate news article, a WHO-sponsored study covering more than 89,000 people in 18 countries reported that more people in rich countries like France and the US suffer from depression compared to those in poorer countries.

The explanation given is that people in poor countries have basic needs e.g. food and shelter, which, when met, create immense satisfaction. People in rich countries, however, have needs that are more difficult to satisfy. Their money and material possessions do not always bring them happiness. When happiness eludes them, the result is depression and loneliness.
A total of more than 11.3 million people are starving in drought-hit Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. (Straits Times 29 July)
The most effective antidote for the rich but depressed is volunteerism. Helping others, says the study, gives the rich an opportunity to give back to society the money they have made from the people. It is a way to rid themselves of that guilt feeling, for how can they sleep in peace knowing that millions of their fellow human beings are dying from starvation or living from hand to mouth?

Billionaires all: Bill and Miranda Gates with Warren Buffet 
Warren Buffet, 80, with his fortune of more than USD50 billion, knows this. He has vouched to give away most of his fortune, and is using peer pressure to get as many of his billionaire friends to follow suit. He was recently in China to encourage the newly-minted billionaires there to do likewise.

Chen Guangbiao, is China's first billionaire to answer Buffet's call to give away all his wealth. He is hoping he won't be the only one. (Pic: The Telegraph) 
You can be the world's richest man or woman, but when the end comes, you have to leave everything behind. Death is the great equalizer of us all, the rich and the poor.

Related Article

Can our billionaires spare a thought for the elderly?

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Daily Mail 14 July
Young people, and this applies especially to young reporters, kindly take note that people born between 1946 to 1964 (baby boomers) get offended when they are labelled 'elderly' or looked upon as frail and senile. Quoting findings from a US study, the Daily Mail reported that these senior citizens do not consider themselves 'elderly' till they reach at least 70.
My U3A Digital Photography class on a field trip to the Floria Fest in Putrajaya two weeks ago. We are all in our 50s and 60s. (Click on image to enlarge.)
Middle age has been extended to 70 for this generation of 50plus who are more educated, enjoy better health and a longer life span. More seniors are now adopting an active lifestyle. For them, retirement is no longer a dreary life-sentence of staying at home watching telly, sipping tea and nursing their aches and pains. They are busier than ever before. Their weekly planners are filled with events, appointments and even classes. Many are also giving back to society by volunteering their time helping NGOs and charity organizations.
No slowing down for Angeline, 70. Here she is on her electric bike outside the Balai Raya (community centre) where we have our weekly line dance class.
It's not just an active lifestyle that's keeping seniors happily occupied. They are looking younger than their age and fitter than they were pre-retirement. And why not? The stress of working under pressure, of raising children, and of settling financial commitments are all gone. This is the time where ME comes first, followed by spouse, children/grandchildren and friends in that order. To add more meaning and purpose to their lives, they get involved in community service. They find it rewarding and satisfying when they are able to help others who are less fortunate.

Community service - donating rice to the poor and needy.
It goes without saying that to enjoy this extended middle age, we must lay the foundation when we are in our 30s and 40s. Insufficient funds and poor health make for a miserable retirement.

So the message to our young people is: Get an early start on saving for your retirement, look after your health and develop a positive outlook on life. If these three pillars are in place, middle age for the current Generations X and Y might well extend to the 80s!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Sharing tips on how to use creativity to enhance memory at ADFM.
Sometime back in May, a small announcement in the papers caught my attention. It was a free talk on "How to manage your memory with creativity". What drew my attention wasn't so much the topic as the venue of the talk - Alzheimer's Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM), PJ.

For the past few months I've been checking out daycare centres for my mom. I must have visited more than a dozen. None of them had what I was looking for - a daily schedule of activities to keep the elderly mentally, physically and socially occupied. At every home that I visited, the residents were left on their own most of the time. They would either be staring blankly at the TV screen, or lying in bed waiting listlessly for the next meal. The carers were always too busy to give individual attention.

ADFM has a strong support group of volunteers that organizes free monthly talks for the public. Last Saturday caregivers shared their personal challenges in caring for their elderly parents or spouse with AD. Moral support helps reduce the stress that primary caregivers often face. 

On my first visit to ADFM in Petaling Jaya, I knew my search was finally over. This was the perfect daycare centre for my mother. However, admission was not that straightforward. I had to get a geriatrician to diagnose that mom has AD. I also needed a referral letter from him.

I immediately made an appointment for mom to see Dr Philip Poi of University of Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC) on 30 May. He spent 45 minutes chatting with mom and putting her through some simple tests. Based on her answers and his observations, he confirmed that mom displayed early signs of AD. He wrote me a referral for ADFM. That was sufficient to get mom accepted as a client there. (That's the term used at ADFM.)

Mom with some of the table top games apparatus. There's also bingo and singalong sessions, but mom's favorite group activity is mahjong. She always wins, hands down.
Mom has been at ADFM's daycare centre for two months now. She no longer feels so lonely and bored. She now has something to look forward to each weekday - a place to go to where she can share stories with her new friends and enjoy activities tailored to her needs. This is important as AD patients need mental stimulation and social interaction.

My mom participating in the daily morning exercise session at the pavilion led by centre manager, Ms Jade Wong, who is also a nursing tutor.

 One of the staff members helping my mom with the hand exercises. Looking after the elderly can drain one's patience, many times more so when they have AD, but the carers at the centre have been wonderful.
Here's a pictorial tour of the ADFM facilities and services. For more details, please contact the centre manager Jade Wong or Janet who runs the secretariat at No 6, Lorong 11/8E, Section 11, PJ, tel: 03-7956 2008, e-mail: 
First impression counts when visitors step into the centre.
Reflexology path for the clients, with hand bar all along the side to prevent falls.
Exercise corner for those who enjoy cycling.
Some of the drawings done by the clients.
A daily schedule designed to keep the clients mentally and physically active - very important for people with AD.
Dining area with the kitchen in the background. The place is kept spotlessly clean. That speaks well of the staff.
The cosy rest room for the women should they want to lie down or take a nap. Spacious, clean and comfortable as a dormitory should be.
The men's rest room -  no pink sheets here,  but just as comfy and clean. As is the case in all nursing homes and daycare centres, there are more women than men, a clear indication that women enjoy a longer life span.

 A clean, odour-free bathroom cum toilet reflects well on the maintenance of facilities at the centre.

ADFM's other daycare centre is located at Taman Seputeh in Kuala Lumpur. It also runs a residential homecare centre at Telok Panglima Garang, Kuala Langat, Selangor.

 ADFM's homecare centre at Telok Panglima Garang, about 45 minutes' drive from KL.
The spacious hall with the dining area on the left.

 A choice of 6-bed, 3-bed, 2-bed or single-bed rooms to suit individual preferences.

Bathroom and toilet equipped with seat and grab bars.

If you are interested in finding out more about ADFM's residential homecare centre, you can contact Angela Lee at 03-3122 6908. You can also check out ADFM's website at and ADFM's blog at

  ADFM's newsletter and pamphlet.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


 The Sunday Times editorial 17 July
Going by the editorial in The Sunday Times today, the answer is "Much less after 62". That's the official retirement age in Singapore. Come January 2012 when a new law on re-employment of older workers takes effect, employers will have to rehire older workers till they reach 65, with an option to extend employment till 67.  

While this may be welcome news to many employees who are about to retire, the new terms of re-employment might not be in their favour. Some companies which have started early implementation of the new policy have cut salaries of rehired older workers by as much as 30%, reduced medical benefits, and in some cases, taken away bonuses.

Source: The Straits Times 9 July
It all boils down to 'take it or leave it', with the employer having the upper hand. The older worker is in a weakened position to negotiate for better terms. He has little say in the matter, especially if he needs to carry on working to build a decent retirement nest. The only recourse left is for the respective workers' unions to present their case for a continuation of the current terms at best, or a less drastic pay cut at worse.

It's sad really. One day you are drawing a salary of X dollars. The very next day your value to the company depreciates for no reason other than you've just hit 62. If you continue to do the same work, it's only fair that you continue to receive the same pay. Anything less is clearly a case of discrimination against older workers.
Ministry of Manpower's Portal for Re-employment of Older Workers, Singapore.
Ultimately, it's up to the individual older employee to prove that advancing age in no way diminishes his work efficiency. If he can still put in a good day's work, he deserves to be fairly remunerated. Surely all his years of loyal service to the company plus his wealth of experience must be worth something.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Bersih supporters carrying yellow placards and banners outside Mansion House in London where PM Najib was scheduled for a business meeting. There was a similar yellow protest outside 10 Downing Street where he met with British PM Cameron.

More yellow. Inside Buckingham Palace - meeting the Queen who is dressed in yellow!
And yellow flowers too for emphasis!
Couldn't resist posting these pictures. Even in London there's no escaping the colour yellow for PM Najib.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Lifetime achievement awards are a staple in many awards shows and ceremonies. Recipients of such awards are usually in their 70s and above who are recognized for their remarkable achievements and contributions to society. (Pic: Julie Andrews, 76, with her Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 2011.)

While many of these awards carry prestige and honour, the same can't be said of many one-off awards given by companies or organizations at their annual dinners. Former PM Tun Dr Mahathir recently received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Kuala Lumpur Mayor's Tourism Awards 2011. Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam was the recipient of the inaugural CHT Lifetime Achievement Award 2011. Frankly, I've never heard of these awards till they were reported in the local papers.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam with his award. (Pic: The Star)
National British Charity WRVS just released their Gold Age Power List 2011 to honour older men and women who are inspiring leaders in their respective fields. The categories cover arts, sports and adventure, public service, and business. These extraordinary older people have spent a lifetime driven by a passion to contribute to society in their respective fields of expertise. They are also shining role models of successful ageing. The list includes local unsung heroes.

It's high time we changed negative stereotyping of older adults. More and more 60plusers are defying the long-held public perception of older adults as frail, senile, unproductive and a drain on the country's resources. It's time too for the government or NACSCOM to come up with some appreciation for older Malaysians (60and above) who have contributed to the economic, social and cultural development of our society.

Which two individuals would you nominate for each of these categories in the inaugural Golden Malaysians Awards List - if we had one?

~ Public Service
~ Science and Medicine
~ Arts and Culture
~ Sports and Adventure
~ Business and Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


To the PM, Home Minister and IGP, do you still deny that the police used violence on the protestors? None are so blind as those with sight but do not see the truth. All coverage of the 9 July rallies have been given the whitewash treatment by the MSM. You will never see images like these in the MSM. Kudos to all the photographers, local and foreign, who braved the tear gas, water cannons and truncheons to bring us these images.

“Why do we have to feel so scared (and threatened) in our own home land.. and by own countrymen?” asks Auntie Anne, 65. She was one of the many thousands who joined the street march despite the heavy presence of the riot police and the risk of getting arrested.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Face-off. The only 'weapon' the protestors had was defiance against the FRU who were in full anti-riot gear, with full-face helmet and shield. (Front page of Sunday Star)
It's the day after. A quick browse through the print and online news media can leave the casual reader very much confused as to where things stand at the moment.

Despite the massive clampdown and blockades, the government failed to stop the protestors from amassing in several areas of the city. The PM said "no serious harm was caused" and in the same breath also said "street demonstrations not only bring hardship to the people, it could also lead to possessions being destroyed". Isn't he contradicting himself? There have been no reports of damage to property.

Fodder for the government to use in accusing Bersih of being used by the opposition. (The Star)
Dato Ambiga says that it was "mission accomplished" although Bersih 2.0 didn't quite achieve its original objective of marching to the palace to deliver a memorandum to the King. It didn't look good that she was flanked by leaders of the opposition parties at the press conference. She had always insisted that Bersih 2.0 was apolitical. She did, however, explain that she marched with the opposition instead of 'alone' for security reasons.
Proof that tear gas was fired into the hospital compound, despite the IGP's denial. (Malaysiakini)
The IGP said the police succeeded in dispersing the demonstrators who numbered only a mere "5000 to 6000", and not 100,000 as claimed by the organizers. He denied the police fired tear gas into the compound of Tung Shin hospital, despite photos that show otherwise.

Outside KLCC yesterday afternoon.
Getting ready for the protestors.
Shoppers 'locked' inside Suria KLCC. This was to prevent protestors from seeking refuge in the mall.
The scene outside Pavilion at 5pm. People resumed their shopping as if the protests never happened.

Over at Lot 10 junction, traffic was slowly getting back to normal. No signs of damage to property anywhere.
And I say again, all the show of force from the police, FRU, General Operations Force, and Light Strike Force was totally unnecessary as the protestors were unarmed. Shopowners, paying heed to the government's repeated warnings of chaos and destruction resulting from the rallies, closed their shops. Massive traffic congestion outside the city centre was caused by police road blocks and road diversion. People movement was restricted as buses couldn't enter the city, and several stations along the Ampang and Kelana Jaya lines were closed. We can point the finger directly at the government for causing all this inconvenience and loss of earnings for the rakyat.

Bersih supporters shaking hands after the rally in Jalan Ampang. No hard feelings?
Those who were arrested were questioned and then released - after a buffet meal courtesy of the police at Pulapol. Faces have been blotted out. (Photo: PDRM)
If only the government had given Bersih  what it had asked for in the first place, or to gather in Merdeka Stadium from 2-4pm, there would have been no arrests, and no need for tear gas or water cannons. It would have been a peaceful walk enroute to the istana or stadium, with the police lining the route on both sides to provide security and safety.  It's possible to hold peaceful protests in the streets. But, of course, the government has so little faith in the people, and so much fear of losing power that they would rather 'play safe' and bring out all they have in their arsenal to counter any threat, real or perceived, to protect their status quo.

At the start of the walk to the stadium - peaceful until confronted by riot police backed by water cannons. Shops could have remained open. The huge crowds would have generated business for stalls selling food and drinks, and for buses, trains and taxis. (Photo: Malaysiakini)