Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his cabinet: Family caregivers deserve recognition in the pioneer generation hongbao

Dear Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
Your initiative to accord recognition to our pioneer generation through a pioneer generation hongbao will surely be well received by those who helped build the nation in the early years of independence (“PM promises pioneer generation a hongbao”; Thursday). It is a good move; and it will encourage more Singaporeans to stay loyal to the country.

Just as the pioneer generation has stayed loyal and committed to Singapore for decades, so have family caregivers who, with sheer determination, commitment and perseverance have not given up on their care recipients.  Moreover, many of these caregivers have, in their employable years, worked with the first generation leaders to help build Singapore’s vibrant economy.  But they are always forgotten.

Family caregivers need to be recognised for the simple reason that these individuals make lots of sacrifices as they tirelessly assist loved ones with a disability­–physical or mental, serious illness or the limitations of aging. 

Generally, caregivers would like to care for their sick relatives, but there are reasons – valid reasons, why some have little or no choice but to place them in nursing homes. We need to understand that.  

For decades, caregivers who are prepared to embrace caregiving as a noble job have not been given recognition for the commitment they make – practically every day of their lives.  This is not in keeping with your objective of ensuring that EVERY Singaporean will be well taken care of.   

In your Chinese New Year message, PM Lee, you once again stressed the importance of family support and taking care of the elderly.  This is exactly what our family caregivers have done.   With an ageing population coming on-stream, you can expect more and more of our citizens to become caregivers.  The question is how many will be able to take the road less travelled and, if they do, will they be to cope?   How many will be motivated to travel the long ardous journey?

It is therefore timely for the government to translate words into action and accord the long overdue recognition to our family caregivers through the pioneer generation hongbao.  And most certainly, this group is very much representative of an inclusive society.  Agreed, PM Lee?

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 An edited version of this suggestion appears in the TODAY Newspaper - Wed 5th Feb 2014:





No comments: