No hanky-panky at senior citizens' clubs, please : Peh Chin Hua

The Straits Times | Oct 18, 1993
By: M. Nirmala

FOLK dances and exercise sessions in senior citizens' clubs are fine, but keep out the hanky-panky.

Mr Peh Chin Hua sounded this warning while speaking at a folk dance event for some elderly at the Peoples' Association yesterday.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Peh, an MP for Jalan GRC, noted the rise of "a new social disease" among the senior citizens' groups - elderly people having extra-marital affairs.

He said that while a love affair for a widow or widower was fine if their feelings for each other were sincere and their children agreed to the marriage, senior citizens who have spouses should exercise restraint.

"The new disease could affect you and your families. It will only bring about pain and suffering," he cautioned.

And for old people, this would not be worth the trouble, he added.

Besides the trouble that it could mean for the elderly, Mr Peh said he was also concerned about how such activities could taint the name of these senior citizens' clubs, which are also grassroots organisations with government backing.

"Indirectly, the behaviour of these people will affect the reputation of the senior citizens' clubs," he noted.

The 291 senior citizens clubs have about 100,000 members aged 60 and above. Dancing, exercise lessons and tours are just some of the activities that are organised for them regularly.

Mr Peh later told The Straits Times that although those who misbehaved were aminority, he was bringing the matter up as he had received feedback during his Meet-the-People's sessions and other meetings with his senior citizens' club members.

"Most of the complaints came from women who felt that some people had ulterior motives for joining the clubs' activities," he said.

Mr Peh, 46, who has been married for 24 years, said he was aware that he was broaching a sensitive subject.

"But it has to be done because senior citizens contributed to nation-building and are role models to the young."

He was highlighting it to show that a Member of Parliament was aware of what some were doing.

"If we keep quiet, the elderly may think that we are not aware of what is going on."

The crowd of 2,000, mostly women, who gathered at the People's Association grounds listened attentively to Mr Peh. Some nodded their heads when he spoke of how some couples were misbehaving.

They took part in a folk dancing event, Golden Swing '93, organised jointly by the People's Association and the Health Ministry. The event was held in conjunction with the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign.

Eight participants interviewed agreed with what Mr Peh said. Mr Goh Tee Ann, 63, chairman of the organising committee, said: "Some do it openly and some do it on the quiet. But we will have black sheep in any social group and I'm glad that those who misbehave form only a small group."

Mdm Wee Chwee Kim, 73, a widow, was not too concerned about those with dubious intentions.
She said: "I'm only here to exercise, make friends and have fun. Since my husband passed away, I have had no interest in men."