SINGAPORE (Mar 4): The Merdeka Generation, born from 1950 to 1959, lived through Singapore’s tumultuous early years, and gained a perspective of Singapore’s place in the world that many younger people probably lack. And, like the Pioneer Generation, consisting of Singaporeans born up to 1949, they deserve some extra help to cope with rising medical costs as they approach their twilight years. At least, that is the narrative the government has been weaving over the past year.

“They understood instinctively what was at stake,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at his National Day Rally speech last year, when plans for the Merdeka Generation Package were first unveiled. “The men were among the earliest batches called up for National Service. They were the first of the [Singapore Armed Forces] — the Army, Navy and Air Force,” he added. “Many, especially the girls, didn’t complete their education. They came out to work early, to support the family and younger siblings.”

Yet, the story of the Merdeka Generation is far more richly textured than that simple narrative. In many ways, they defined modern Singapore. And, they could well continue making an impact for many more years.

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