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MyQueenstown Votes #3 - Growing Old in Queenstown

By my queenstown on Thursday, March 31, 2011 with 1 comment

For the past thirty years, Mdm Wong, 69, has been climbing that flight of stairs from Block 81 Commonwealth Close to the bus stop along Queensway. Each year, it appears harder and harder for her to complete that routine without a rest. Every two to three flight of stairs, she has to cling onto the pillars for support, catch her breathe, before scaling the rest of the staircases. Mdm's Wong experiences must be familiar for many Queenstown residents living in Mei Ling and Commonwealth Close. While Brickworks residents can enjoy the comforts of two elevators which connect ABC Market to the upper ridges of Rumah Tinggi, it puzzles many grey-haired residents in Mei Ling and Commonwealth Close why they are not given the opportunity of having an elevator to reduce their discomfort and inconvenience? Is there a lack of political will?

The never ending flight of stairs at Block 81 Commonwealth Close

Costs are cited as the premier reason why elevators are not built. Compare to the millions of dollars wasted in vanity projects, building an elevator can provide residents in Mei Ling, Stirling View and Commonwealth Close with convenience and scaling flights of stairs may be a thing of a past for these residents. 

As reported in July 2010, the Mei Ling/Mei Chin/Stirling View district of Queenstown is built on top of the former Hong Lim Hill. Cemeteries, farms and villages used to populate the hill before a major excavation and land acquisition took place in the 1950s. In those days, technology was not advanced and the hill was not completely flattened. Dwarf-sized knolls spread across the estate and Mei Ling was built on one of them. Like other districts in Queenstown, some former residents of the village as well as victims of the Bukit Ho Swee fire moved into flats in Mei Ling. Even as the next generation of wealthier young adults, who had grown up in Queenstown, were heading towards newer estates to establish their own households, their parents, who preferred the comforts of the familiar Queenstown, did not follow and stay behind. Today, they have all grown old.

Mdm Lian is one such resident who faces difficulties in scaling the stairs

Mdm Lian is one of those residents who faced difficulties scaling the stairs from Stirling View. A devout Christian, she has to scale along the stairs before boarding a bus to reach her Church.

Elderly Programmes in Queenstown
Queenstown, an ageing estate, has many programmes which cater to the elderly's interests. One look at the list of programmes offered by the local community centre indicates that residents can participate in folk dances, karaoke, brisk walking, health screening and other activities in Queenstown. Low-income elderly residents can enjoy subsidies at Brickworks market and a proposed stamp-voucher programme at Mei Ling market. These programmes, undoubtedly serve the financial and social interests of the elderly population.

When MyQueenstown Team reported that a lack of elderly wellness and befriending initative in the estate, we are rebutted immediately, citing the availability of befriending and wellness activities offered by Wellness Centres and other Voluntary Welfare Organisations (although there are deficiencies in their approach in our opinion). However, a straw poll among 30 residents in Mei Ling and Tanglin Halt reveals that only 2 out of the 30 residents acknowledge the available of such programme, indicating either a lack of publicity or a lack of bureaucracy to run the programme efficiently. 

The lack of interest towards the mental wellness of these elderly folks is prevalent in Stirling View. When MyQueenstown Team did our interviews and surveys there, we have met 16 elderly singles who do not participate in any community activities and live alone. We ask, "Is it really safe to leave them alone?" The outreach efforts have been muted and residents long to find someone whom they can approach and talk to. Will there be a permanent programme in Queenstown to serve the mental wellbeing of the elderly folks?

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Category: Elections , News in the Dump , recent



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