Ms Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, visited Singapore from 21 to 29 September 2016 at the invitation of the Singapore Government.

During her visit, Ms Kornfeld-Matte met Minister for Health and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing Mr Gan Kim Yong. She also had discussions with Government officials, the private sector, non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations to understand their work in the area of population ageing and to exchange views on the challenges and opportunities that Singapore faces as a rapidly ageing society. She was briefed on Singapore's Action Plan for Successful Ageing, in areas including health and wellness, learning, employment, retirement adequacy, housing, transport, and protection for vulnerable seniors.

Ms Kornfeld-Matte lauded Singapore's commitment to take a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach to building a Nation for All Ages. She took positive note that the Government was planning for the long term, had put in place the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, and that the extensive public consultations conducted by the Government had ensured that the Action Plan remained relevant and enjoyed the ownership of all stakeholders, particularly older Singaporeans. She welcomed the Government's approach in working with non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations, community partners, and trained volunteers to translate policies into action within the community.

Ms Kornfeld-Matte commended our decision to honour and pay tribute to Pioneers for their significant contributions to Singapore's early nation-building through the Pioneer Generation Package. She welcomed our approach of empowering our citizens to embrace the opportunities from longevity and achieve positive ageing. This would allow them to become significant drivers of the future workforce, economy, and society, for instance, through our moves towards lifelong learning, senior volunteerism, and workplace longevity.

She commended Singapore for its commitment towards research into ageing and for setting aside up to S$200 million under the National Innovation Challenge to catalyse innovative ideas and interdisciplinary research to transform the experience of ageing in Singapore. She praised Singapore's research and development programmes and said they could serve as an example for other countries.

Ms Kornfeld-Matte stressed the need for the Government to further strengthen protection and support for vulnerable seniors. We explained that the Government was strengthening social safety nets to better protect the elderly through schemes such as Workfare, the Silver Support Scheme and ComCare Fund, as well as subsidies for essential services like healthcare, housing, and transport. The Government's plans to introduce the Vulnerable Adults Act will strengthen the existing legal framework and better protect the rights of older persons.

We share Ms Kornfeld-Matte's view about the need to strengthen our system to ensure that our plans to prepare for population ageing are sustained. We affirmed our commitment to continue to take a whole-of-nation approach, plan long term and invest consistently to build a Nation for All Ages. We will also study the best practices and programmes that she highlighted, including ways to provide more statistical information on the state of ageing in Singapore.

Singapore thanks Ms Kornfeld-Matte for her visit and will study and consider her recommendations carefully. We look forward to reading her full report in due course.

Source: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIR SINGAPORE