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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Election Watch Part II - Concepts About Aging - Nanjing YY Li vs Singapore MM Lee

This article is contributed my me to the Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP).

A Response to “Making Life Easier for The Elderly”

MM Lee at the old age of 87, said this during a recent constituency event; “If I'm fit, I'm prepared to stand. But whether I stand or not, that's up to the Prime Minister”. Asked if he was feeling up to it, Mr Lee chuckled and would only say: 'It's for you to judge.' [ Source : Straits Times, 14 Nov 2010 ]

SM Goh announced that the Government is carrying out a 5-year study in Marine Parade to assess the implications and needs of an ageing community. He said the elderly are a special group, and Singapore need more young people to engage older Singaporeans to help them grow old graciously ….. but “in a cost effective way”. [Source : Today, 13 Dec 2010]

During my recent trip to Nanjing, I met this interesting old man ( an octogenarian ), Mr Li Jun(李均), age 81; while strolling through the Bai Lu Zhou Park one morning. Let me refer to him as 李爷爷 (YY Li) and share his concepts about Aging and his hobby which is both eco-friendly and certainly cost effective.

YY Li is 81 years old but still so healthy and wise. He was practising his “water calligraphy” at the park when I encountered him one morning. What he impressed me most was his philosophy about old age and life, having live past 81.

Photo: YY Li sharing his “Water Calligraphy” techniques with another visitor to the park.

Photo : YY Li introducing himself as a Nanjing resident, Li Jun (李均)

Photo : YY Li explaining how the “broom stick” was improvised as a Water Brush.

Photo : YY Li explaining his concept about life after passing Age 81 (八十一) … 顺… (Smooth)

Photo : YY Li completed his “cool” concept about life after 81 - 顺其自然 ( Let it happens naturally )

Photo : YY Li explaining broader concept about his life and passion –大地为纸水为墨 …

Photo : YY Li completing this couplet about his passion - Using earth as paper and water as ink (大地为纸水为墨), he completes his calligraphy of all the world’s well written essays (书尽天下好文章)

The following is an abstract from the Transcript of MM Lee’s Interview with Seth Mydans of New York Times and IHT on 1 September 2010.

Mr Lee: “Thank you. When you are coming to 87, you are not very happy..”

Q: “Not. Well you should be glad that you’ve gotten way past where most of us will get.”

Mr Lee: “That is my trouble. So, when is the last leaf falling?”

Q: “Do you feel like that, do you feel like the leaves are coming off?”

Mr Lee: “Well, yes. I mean I can feel the gradual decline of energy and vitality and I mean generally every year when you know you are not on the same level as last year. But that is life.”

Photo : Falling Gingko leaves turning golden yellow in Nanjing to welcome the cold winter. “What A Golden Age ?”

I prefer YY Li’s concepts about Aging and living old age naturally. I believe he is completely at ease with life and enjoys the peace and harmony Nature is providing him at no costs. If you are above 80 years old but still want to worry on how best to control and manage the country the only way you like it, obviously life would be like waiting for “the last leaf falling” even if there is a “Golden Age”.

Photo : To have a “Smooth” life at his age (过八十一), let’s recap YY Li’s advice, “Let it be natural ” 顺其自然 …

Photo : And there will still be other Gingko trees bearing fruits to aid longevity, “lust and green”…

Photo : Another Gingko tree “lust and green” and waiting for the same Nanjing winter.

Photo : The Aged exercising at Bai Lu Zhou Park in Nanjing.

Photo : Another Aged senior singing Beijing Opera with his buddy on the Er Hu, while the birds “rhymed” from the cages.

Photo : Or if you prefer option rowing over “reflections” in a lake ?

Photo : Close up view of an Imperial Edict carved in stone.

Singapore likes to work out “great complex formulas about how to live and manage life” but forgets the simpler things in life which makes it meaningful and enjoyable. What SM Goh Chok Tong and PMO Minister Lim Boon Heng are talking about is just “hardware”. So they are concerned about “spending money”. [Today, 13 and 14 Dec 2010]

"The NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say said in 2005: In the past, people lived till 60 or 65. Nowadays, we live a lot older. Today, 75 to 80 years is the average lifespan. In time to come, with advances in life sciences, we can expect to live even longer."

"This poses one question for all older people: What to do with the extra time?", he told union leaders and guests during the Union of Power and Gas Employees 10th anniversary celebrations at Neptune Theatre Restaurant on Jan 29, 2005.

And so the NTUC now encourages the old to continue working during the “extra time”. They start to chase after the “regulations” to delay the statutory “retirement” age. Then PAP MP and Mayor for Southeast District CDC, Mattias Yao, “screamed” out loudly in Petir November/December 2010 edition, “No need to retire at 62”. He wrote that “the Act specifies the age below which employers are not allowed to retire their employees on account of age. It sets a lower limit, not an upper limit.”….. The paranoia is still ultimately about bearing the burden of costs for the Aged, so NTUC says work longer till the day we drop.

Policies need not be casted in stone whether or not to send the Aged workers back to the workforce after the statutory retirement age of 62. If corporations cannot respect the freedom and wishes of the Aged whether to continue working or not, what kind of society are we to those who had already contributed? There is no corporate social responsibility but just corporate survival.
Photo : A pair of Imperial edicts lying in display at Fu Lu Zhou Park, Nanjing.

Meanwhile, MM Lee said he is willing to contest the next general election, if his health allows for it. But the decision lies with PM Lee. That would be a “forced” decision.

I hope aged Singaporeans need not be “forced” likewise. Isn’t it more logical and “cool” to follow YY Li’s wise advice on the concepts of managing Old Age, “Just let it happens naturally”. He is enjoying life and all he needs is a “broom stick” and a bottle of “water” taken from the nearby lake.
Reference #1 :
Straits Times Online : Nov 14, 2010
'If I'm fit, I'll contest'

Reference #2 :
Today, 13 Dec 2010
Marine Parade to pilot 5-year study on ageing community's needs
Link :
Transcript of MM Lee’s Interview with Seth Mydans of New York Times and IHT on 1 September 2010
Link :
Reference #4:-
Today, 14 Dec 2010
Making life easier for the elderly ...
Link : 
NTUC News 18 Feb 2005
"Live Older, Work Longer"
Re-posted in New Asia Republic, 12 Dec 2010 (article was first published in the November/December 2010 edition of PETIR)
PAP: No need to retire at 62
Link :

Contributed to :- Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP)
Read more articles and GE updates at the SGEP.

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