And that’s not all. There’s a magazine “PRIME” targeted at those over 45, a social club for seniors called the Silverhairs Club, a seniors’ drama group called The Glowers and a matchmaking club for singles over 40! A few weeks ago, the country held its first job fair for over-40s. More than 600 vacancies were available in the retail, food and beverage, services and healthcare sectors, among others.
Every year, C3A honours seniors over 60 who are an inspiration to fellow seniors by awarding them the title of Active Ageing Ambassadors. This year's seven winners include 61-year old Chua Chye Hong, an avid environmentalist and advocate of recycling; 70-year old Mdm Krishnavani, founder of the dance group Golden Gals for women over 40, and 69-year old Tang Wing Kee, community leader and certified inline skating coach.
It helps that Singapore’s Minister Mentor and first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, 85, is a strong advocate of active ageing. With him as a role model, it is no wonder that the country places such a premium on active ageing.
Our folks in Putrajaya, I hope you are taking notes.
We tend to emphasize the importance of having good health, but often overlook the importance of cultivating a healthy mind. At the MIM-RAMLEA workshop, Ms Choy Boon Ling and Ms Joanne Lee took participants through a meditation session where we learned how to calm our mind. Their presentation “Being Present to Self and Work” gave us an insight into how being mindful can positively impact our lives. (For more on this topic, do visit their Clove & Clive website. I also recommend reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”. Both books are available at major bookstores.)
Others who spoke were Mr K.D. Raj on “Family Values”, Mr P.M. Lal on “Reflections on Life” and Dato Idris Jauzi on “Sustaining Nation Building”. Mr Raj shared this quote: “Educate a man, you educate an individual. Educate a woman, you educate a family”. Certainly food for thought. He encouraged us to develop values like family, industry, knowledge, compassion and optimism, and to spend quality family time together. Mr Lal asked us to look within ourselves to find answers to questions like “Are you functioning at your full potential? What determines your quality as a human being? What obstacles and challenges do you anticipate, and how will you overcome them to achieve your objectives?”
Dato Idris’ talk was a no-holds-barred session which centred on the problems facing the various communities in nation-building. Each community has its own fears and suspicions, but if Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, could get together in the right environment and with the right frame of mind, they should be able to discuss sensitive issues openly and in a civil manner. (No need to resort to chair-throwing, mud-slinging or calling in the police!)
To ensure that participants had the physical and mental stamina to cope with all the activities, there was an hour of qigong exercises each day led by a very capable Sifu Hoh. It was an opportunity for us to unwind and learn from Sifu Hoh how to harness our qi for optimal energy and health. I found his explanations and instructions easy to understand and follow. After our first session at the Lake Gardens, it was quite amusing to hear many of the participants groaning about creaky knees, stiff joints and sore muscles.
Breathe in, hold and breathe out.
Our field trip to the Lake Gardens and the visit to the MAB on Day 2 started on a note of mystery. Doris Chang, our very hard-working and efficient co-ordinator from the MIM secretariat, kept reminding us even before we boarded the bus that we must observe everything around us and take note of what impressions they had on us, if any. We were not exactly sure what she meant and what we were supposed to look out for. Everything became clear later that evening when we reflected on the day’s outing.
Aboard the bus enroute to the Lake Gardens.
Some of the observations:
- The worsening traffic congestion despite the government’s attempts at alleviating the situation
- The disharmony caused by the cacophony of loud pop music blaring from all corners of the otherwise peaceful surroundings of the Lake Gardens
- The poor maintenance of the herbal garden as evident in the lack of proper labelling of the plants.
- The lack of funds to support voluntary organizations like the MAB which badly needed some repainting and renovation work.
We brainstormed on where and how we could help as individuals and as a group. The result was a wish list and a pledge which one of the participants, Allen Kam, compiled into a powerpoint presentation for the closing ceremony.
On the final day at the closing ceremony cum dinner, each participant received a certificate of completion from YAB Toh Puan Norella Talib, widow of the late Tun Raja Mohar. Raja Mazhar Mohar gave a very moving and inspiring tribute to his father. Other VIPs included YAB Tun Hanif Omar, President of MIM, YB Tan Sri Osman Cassim, VP of MIM, YB Jen Tan Sri Dato Zain Hashim, Chairman of MIM, Dr. Thomas Knirsch, KAS Representative to Malaysia, Dr Wilson Tay, CEO of MIM and several members of the MIM Court of Fellow and General Council. Joint emcees for the evening were participants Balram Menon and his sister Padmini. They truly deserve a round of applause for doing such a splendid job.
Getting to know the herbs at the herbal garden.
Good food and great company!
As part of the evening’s entertainment, participants went on stage to belt out three songs with much gusto. Musical accompaniment was provided by Godfrey Ooi on his guitar. The bolder ones managed to get the VIPs onto the makeshift dance floor. When it was time to say goodnight, there were hugs all round and promises to keep in touch.
Group photo of the participants and the VIPs.
The MIM-RAMLEA programme aims to help participants “find purpose and direction in their golden years, so that they can play a more active role in community development, and put their wealth of knowledge and experience to good use”. Did MIM-RAMLEA 2008 achieve this noble objective? Is it going to be all talk and no action for the participants? Or are they going to walk the talk? It would be interesting to find out at the MIM-KAS Evaluation Workshop to be held on 22 November.
I attended the programme to seek confirmation of my life’s purpose, and to network with like-minded senior citizens. I am glad to say that for me personally, the programme was a resounding success on both counts.
Thank you, MIM and KAS!
MIM-RAMLEA 2008 participants:
Allen Kam Cheng Boo, David Sim Huay Chuang, Diana Sim, David Yee Cheok Hong, David Chay Kah Chan, Balram Menon, Yuen Wee Mee, Padmini Menon, Devaraj FW Daniel, Chuah Guat Hiang, Sylvia Tan Hooi Sien, Koeh Siew Lim, Olivia Daniel, Francis Kerk Tuat Gim, William Chang Wei Say, Lee Eh Hock, Lily Fu, Toh Li Li, Jack Lim, K Nadasapillay, Sarojini Devi A/P Muniady, Wong Suit Ching, Low Soi Wah, Tee Kai Ming, Lee Kim Tow, Rajamanickam A/L Packrisamy, S. Thirunanvukkarasu A/L Subramaniam, Godfrey Ooi Goat See, Mohd Ali Mahmood, Syed Hanafi bin Syed Hassan, Harjit Kaur A/P Khera Singh, Zainal Abidin Yahya
Dr Tarcisius Chin, former CEO of MIM, spoke on how to prepare for our retirement. This included advice on healthy living, a topic that was expanded on by Ms Doreen Ong in her talk "Your Body, Your Health". Participants were given a basic test to check their vital statistics for optimal health. Imagine our shock when we were told that the majority of us (including the thinnest) were classified as obese! It was truly a wake-up call for us to take better care of our health.Dr Tarcisius Chin (left) and Encik Hadi Abdullah.