Young PAP Teck Ghee helps pioneer citizen
It's called Project Love and that's exactly what it dispenses to the old, poor and needy families in Teck Ghee constituency. And one of Project Love's beneficiaries is Mr Chung Yat Wah, 78. The widower, who lives in Ang Mo Kio New Town, is among the pioneer generation of Singaporeans whom the PAP is reaching out to.
Mr Chung, who spent half a century in the construction industry, joined the trade at 18, working in Myanmar in the late 1940s and later, Malaysia for more than a decade.
He and his late wife lived in Bukit Ho Swee before the Big Fire of 1961, and were resettled in a rental flat in Kallang, after which they bought their own 3-room HDB flat in the Ang Mo Kio New Town in the late 1970s.
It was around 1974 though, that his wife suffered kidney failure which required thrice-a-week dialysis treatments. Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Chung says: "Those were the days when there was no Medisave or MediShield and you have to pay cash for treatments, which cost $400 a week."
The National Kidney Foundation did lower it eventually to $50 a month but by then, the couple had sold their flat and downgraded to a 2-room rental flat in Toa Payoh and later, a 1-room back in Ang Mo Kio where he still lives, after his wife passed away four years ago.
With CPF funds and savings wiped off years ago because of his wife's medical bills, Mr Chung has been on public assistance (PA) since he retired about 10 years ago. He does not have to pay for medical treatment under the PA scheme.
Project Love, a programme undertaken by Young PAP Teck Ghee, supplements Mr Chung's livelihood, giving him monthly food rations such as rice and other basic necessities. They also help spring-clean his flat.
He also receives free meals from the Lions Befrienders Centre for senior citizens at the foot of his block of flats, and vouchers which he uses at nearby hawker centres and NTUC FairPrice supermarkets.
A collector of caps and mini liquor bottles from his early peripatetic days, his mementoes include framed photos taken with MPs, especially those from Ang Mo Kio GRC, including several snapshots with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Petir Magazine.