PA keeps mum on issue

The Straits Times | Nov 13, 1993
By: Mardiana Abu Bakar

The People's Association has declined to comment on Mr Peh Chin Hua's speech and has instructed its organising secretaries and office bearers not to talk to the press on the issue. Life! found this out when it spoke to two organising secretaries.

When Life! called the association two days after the MP for Jalan Besar GRC spoke on Oct 18, a spokesman said it did not have any comments yet. Last week, the association said it had decided not to comment.

People's Association is the parent body in charge of the 291 senior citizens' clubs based in community centres, which together have about 100,000 members aged 60 and above.

Mr Peh had said he was bringing up the matter of hanky-panky by the elderly because he had received feedback during meet-the-people sessions and meetings with his community centre's senior citizens' club.

Three weeks ago, Life! also spoke to the chairman of a senior citizens' group in a community centre who was unhappy with Mr Peh's speech. He said the speech undermined the good work of the individual groups at the community centres. He declined to be quoted subsequently when he found out that the PA had sent an order to members not to speak to the press about the speech.

Dr Lim Chan Yong, founder member and president of the Singapore Action Group of Elders, made a measured statement. Sage plans social and recreational activities for its 2,000 senior citizen members.

He said: "There could be people who are lonely enough to seek the company of another elderly person of the opposite sex despite being married, but as far as I know, there have been no such cases among my members."

One woman member of Sage expressed indignation over Mr Peh's speech. Retired nursing officer Madam Chew Khoon How, 60, who was divorced a few years ago, said, "It is very, very naughty of Mr Peh to have made that speech. Now my children might think that I go to the club to hanky-panky. We go to the clubs to pass the time, enjoy ourselves, learn some new skills."

Added Madam Irene Lee, 70, a retired secretary: "As it is, senior citizens have problems with stereotypes: we are dependant, we cannot walk without crutches, we do not lead fulfilling lives. The last thing we need is another uncalled-for stereotype.