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Alfrescian (Inf)

Seniors lament cessation of Kopitiam card, citing challenges in using FairPrice app to get discount​

Kan Chiz Seng (left), 75, and Choy Haw Me, 70, with their Kopitiam cards at an outlet in Yew Tee on Feb 5, 2023.
Nuria Ling/TODAY
Kan Chiz Seng (left), 75, and Choy Haw Me, 70, with their Kopitiam cards at an outlet in Yew Tee on Feb 5, 2023.
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  • Senior citizens lamented the upcoming discontinuation of the Kopitiam card come June 30
  • The card allows users to pay for their food and drinks at Kopitiam food courts and coffee shops, giving them an additional 10 per cent discount
  • FairPrice Group, which runs the Kopitiam chain, said users can opt to pay through the FairPrice mobile app to get the 10 per cent discount
  • Senior citizens told TODAY they hope this decision could be reversed as it is difficult to navigate the app, among other reasons
Published February 5, 2023

SINGAPORE — Since 2015, Ms Choy Haw Me, 70, and her husband have been using Kopitiam's stored-value cards when they go to their nearby Kopitiam in Yew Tee for a meal or to eat their favourite dessert, ice kacang.
They use the card to get a 10 per cent discount at the food court. The top-up machine has become a familiar routine, with the duo remembering what to press from mostly muscle memory.
So when they found out that the card will be discontinued come June 30, they were disappointed.
FairPrice Group, which runs the Kopitiam chain of food court, coffee shops and hawker centres, said on Thursday (Feb 2) that it will be doing away with the card. Users will be able to get a cash refund on any stored value starting March, or can transfer the amount to the FairPrice mobile application in the form of Linkpoints.
However, it is not doing away with the 10 per cent discount — users simply need to pay for their meals at Kopitiam outlets through the FairPrice mobile app.

FairPrice added that seniors who may have difficulty using the app or do not have debit or credit cards and are under the ComCare scheme for low-income individuals and families may get the 10 per cent discount by showing their Pioneer Generation or Merdeka Generation identifier cards.
For senior citizens like Ms Choy who are not as digitally savvy, switching to the FairPrice app poses a challenge. Of the 11 seniors who spoke to TODAY on Sunday, only two were confident about learning to navigate the app.
"There are so many applications already and I don't really know how to use my phone aside from making calls and watching some shows," said Ms Choy in Mandarin.
"I'll have to trouble my family members, but what they say sometimes I might not remember."
A woman in her 80s who declined to be named said she fears being scammed if she uses her smartphone for anything money-related.
"You have these scammers asking for your name, age, address and OTP (one-time password), I don't want to take any risk," she said.

"I wish (FairPrice) would not do away with the card since it's easy to use it. Why not keep it?"
She has decided that she will stop visiting the Kopitiam and opt instead for a coffeeshop near her home once the card is discontinued.
Another hurdle the elderly cited was the language barrier, as the FairPrice app is currently available only in English.
Retiree Lee Gui Heng, 75, who frequents Pasir Ris West Coast's Kopitiam about four times a week, downloaded the application after finding out on Friday that the card will be discontinued. He said it was confusing to navigate.
"Do I need to top up? What do I need to scan if I use this app? And how do I get the discount? It's much simpler to just use the card as you just need to tap once and the top-up machine is straightforward to use," he said in Mandarin, adding that his English-language skills are "not that good".
Nuria Ling/TODAYAn advertisement for the FairPrice app seen at an outlet in Yew Tee on Feb 5, 2023.
"It's easy for younger people, but for people my generation who grew up without this technology or who don't speak English, it's very difficult."

When TODAY showed a man in his 70s the payment button located on the top right of the app, he said it was "too small" that he did not notice it earlier.
"I was already confused by all the buttons and icons, how can I find this QR code on my own? I'm just going to hog the line (trying to pay)," he said, adding that he would rather pay with cash.
Bus driver Ang Chit Teck, 65, is taking the news in stride, saying he will "figure out" how to use the app once the card gets phased out. He hopes the app will be translated into his mother tongue by then, so it will be easier for him to navigate it.
"I used to top up S$50 into my card at a time, but now I'll just top up about S$10 so that I won't have too much left in the card before it is discontinued," added Mr Ang, who goes to the Kopitiam outlet at Pasir Ris West Coast every week.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Don’t forget students in switching from Kopitiam card to app​

Feb 27, 2023

I applaud the FairPrice Group for taking steps to help members of the public, especially senior citizens, switch from using physical Kopitiam cards to using the FairPrice app (Digital buddies at 15 Kopitiam outlets to help patrons transition from card to app, Feb 20).
Students who patronise Kopitiam outlets are also a group that will be affected. They may not have credit cards or debit cards, which makes it difficult for them to use the app, as it has to be linked to their credit or debit cards.
One solution is to continue to allow the physical cards to be used, alongside the mobile app. Another way is for students’ ez-link cards to be linked to purchases at Kopitiam outlets.

Lui Shing Cher, 15
Secondary 4 Student


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Help tissue paper sellers find other ways to earn a living​

Apr 15, 2023

I’ve been seeing more tissue paper sellers in crowded public places, where they’ve become a nuisance. The public does not need this service, as tissue paper is cheap and readily available.
I gave a few of these sellers $2 each, and started talking to them. One divulged that he was from Malaysia. I spoke to another in Little India, who told me she was from Hougang, but stationed herself in Little India because of the better footfall.
I reported three tissue sellers stationed at the exit of City Hall MRT station. The authorities followed up and said that one of the sellers had a licence.
I hope the authorities will do more to help the less fortunate engage in better activities to earn a living. They can be referred to seniors’ centres or agencies offering simple jobs or free food, or given financial help to eradicate this practice of selling tissues, which is akin to begging.

Henry Ong Kok Seong


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Don’t hold job seekers’ age against them​

MAY 31, 2023

I refer to the article, “What we get wrong about ageing and work” (May 29).
I retired in December 2019, three months before I turned 68, and it was a challenge looking for part-time jobs.
The food delivery company to which I applied for a driver’s position rejected my application over the phone. The person who answered the call asked for my age and said “too old”. The fact is, I’m still driving almost daily.
I was also rejected for a part-time job as a petrol station attendant because the “cut-off age” was 67.
I applied to be a part-time packer with a supermarket chain, but received no reply apart from an acknowledgement of receipt, though I understand only shortlisted candidates would be notified.
I managed to get a part-time job shelving books in the National Library only in April 2021, and have been in two other jobs since then.
Seniors who are healthy and still want to continue working need more help.

Leng Kok Meng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Healthcare Consider language abilities of elderly patients​

JUN 5, 2023

The healthcare system needs to be mindful of the language abilities of elderly patients.
My mother, who can speak only Cantonese, visited a National Healthcare Group polyclinic recently. She was assigned to an English-speaking nurse.
When my mother indicated that she was unable to comprehend the conversation to the attending nurse, another nurse who speaks only Mandarin was brought in.
My mother, who is not fluent in Mandarin, tried her best to understand the medical terms, but she was still unable to fully make out what was required of her.
To the credit of the nurses, they tried their best to communicate with my mother, who was too polite to tell them that she did not fully grasp what they were saying.
Is there a system in place for patients to indicate their preferred language so that a healthcare professional with the appropriate language ability is assigned?

Edward Lee Chee Weng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Spare a thought for the elderly on tray return rule​

June 6, 2023

I read with dismay that an 80-year-old man was one of the first people issued with a warning ticket for not returning his tray after a meal at a hawker centre (At least one written warning issued on first day of stricter enforcement to return trays, June 2).
By inference, when caught the next time, he will be fined.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has said that “those able to bring the trays and food to the table on their own should likewise be able to return their trays and used crockery”.
What NEA failed to consider is that the elderly would usually sit nearest to the stall they patronise because of their difficulty in balancing a laden tray.
In fact, I have also often seen stallholders take food orders to elderly customers.
Instead of punishing seniors who may have difficulty making their way to a tray return station that could be several metres away, we should take their physical condition into consideration and help them.
Isn’t this the inclusive, kind society we want to encourage?

Margaret Chong


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Digitalisation push causing seniors to be left out of CC events​

June 22, 2023

Several events organised by Hwi Yoh Community Centre (CC), such as the upcoming Fruits Fiesta on July 9, require scanning a QR code for registration and payment.
When my mother, a 77-year-old socially active senior, asked whether she could register directly with the CC without using the QR code, the answer was a firm no and that she should ask her own children for help.
While I am willing and able to help my mother with the registration, this digital process inconveniences seniors, especially those who are childless or not living with their children.
The QR code registration is a complicated process for many seniors who are not digitally savvy – they may not know how to scan the QR code, log in using their Singpass account at the directed website, and input credit card details for payment.
My mother said that due to the compulsory digital registration, many of her elderly friends exclude themselves from CC activities because they do not want to trouble their children over such trivial tasks.
The unintended social exclusion of these seniors goes against current policy emphasis on ageing-in-place and social connectedness among them.
The push for digitalisation is necessary to ensure Singapore meets its Smart Nation objectives, but it should not come at a cost to senior citizens’ independence and dignity. Some seniors may not want or are unable to bridge the digital knowledge and skill gaps.

A more balanced approach is needed to ensure that non-tech-savvy seniors are not left behind. Alternative non-digital registration methods must be made available to allow them to join in community activities without overcoming an avoidable digital hurdle.

Lim Aik Meng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Are seniors at risk of losing independence amid digitalisation push?​

JUN 27, 2023

The letter, “Digitalisation push causing seniors to be left out of CC events” (June 22), highlights the frustrations of many elderly people in a digitally demanding society.
The letter highlighted how QR code registration for a community centre event is complicated for many seniors. Such digital requirements would be even more challenging for those with early onset dementia or mild cognitive impairment.
A news article, “Asian dementia on the rise in S’pore” (June 18), reported that dementia can affect executive function, which involves planning, completing tasks independently, problem-solving, and making decisions. Affected seniors would find it problematic if day-to-day activities were to be transferred onto digital platforms.
And if more activities moved to the digital platform, would this lead in the future to seniors being misdiagnosed as having early onset dementia when it could be that they are just not digitally competent?
The article also mentioned that dementia in the Asian context affects one’s judgment about what is right and wrong, and had caused many in Asia to become victims of financial fraud. This is a matter of concern.
As one ages, one may experience some form of mental slowness or some form of cognitive impairment, and become less alert. However, performing tasks through digital means requires one to be very alert and precise to tap the right key.
How can policymakers make things simple for seniors instead of adding more layers to hinder them from being independent?

There are not going to be enough dependable young people to help the elderly to deal with different passwords to access different services, or to register for all sorts of day-to-day activities.

Grace Chua Siew Hwee


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Digital adoption too fast and furious?​

August 12, 2023

There have been too many reports of scammers, hackings into the cryptocurrency system, unauthorised credit card transactions, and malware and Trojan horses embedded in apps and the Internet.
Is the world pushing too hard and too fast for digital transactions, even as it is still not able to contain hackers and scammers?
I think the answer is yes. All the codes that have been adopted by vendors will always be targeted by hackers, and firewalls are not 100 per cent foolproof.
Even with two-factor authentication, victims still fall into the traps set by scammers. The current digital transaction structure must be redeveloped, such as Web 3.0 with its decentralised Internet and connectivity based on peer-to-peer network connections.
There needs to be a more secure and better authentication method. If there’s no plan B, then perhaps it is better to go back to using hard cash.

Gabriel Ong


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: More help needed for lower-income families affected by rising prices​

SEP 27, 2023

I understand that this year’s 7 per cent fare hike for bus and train rides is necessary to reflect the rising operating costs incurred by the providers of such essential public services.
Likewise, Singapore Post’s increase of 20 cents to mail a basic letter with effect from Oct 9 is necessary to recover rising costs.
On Jan 1, 2024, the goods and services tax (GST) will increase by 1 percentage point to 9 per cent, primarily to defray ballooning healthcare expenditure.
Singaporeans generally accept and trust that the Government will always act fairly in their best interests.
However, as most Singaporeans continue to struggle and cope with the higher cost of living, one wonders if the rising prices of goods and services might trap us in a vicious circle of unending price increases.
The transport fare and GST increases are likely to trickle down into higher operating costs for all businesses, including hawkers and coffee shop operators, who will then be compelled to pass on the incremental costs by raising their prices to remain profitable and survive.
When will this increasing price spiral end?

It is a sad truth that inflation unfairly hits the low-income families hardest, forcing them to endure much hardship and to make many sacrifices.
Meanwhile, the wealthy are probably less affected by inflation and perhaps even benefit from value appreciation of their properties and assets, resulting in a widening wealth gap and greater social inequality.
Although the Government has been rolling out support measures to help low-income families, we should be mindful that they are still most vulnerable, especially the children who might be deprived of some development opportunities as these families scrimp to stay afloat.
Life can become challenging and stressful in an inflationary environment. With reduced real income and purchasing power, some low-income families are prone to becoming dysfunctional, resulting in domestic conflict and disharmony.
In this context, there is the real danger that the children will fall further behind those from wealthy families.
Hopefully, our policy and decision makers, including political leaders, will bear in mind the struggles of those most adversely impacted by high inflation and find more ways to help them.

Ang Ah Lay


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Why ask the elderly to do Zoom call when simple call will do?​

OCT 3, 2023

My mother is 81, and recently had to undergo an operation at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
The hospital set the pre-admission financial counselling as a Zoom call, despite my mother telling the staff that she did not know what Zoom was or how to use it.
A few days before the scheduled Zoom call, she received two SMSes reminding her to join the call at the appointed time, and that a link would be sent to her in a separate SMS.
On the scheduled date, my mother had yet to receive an SMS containing the link, so I called KKH’s hotline to inform the hospital that we did not have access to the call. The hotline agent assured us that she would inform the clinic, which would assist us.
No calls came, and I had to make several calls again through the hospital’s hotline. After more than two hours of calling and waiting, I finally received a call, and the financial counselling was successfully completed over my mobile phone in five minutes.
I understand that Zoom calls can be productive for the young, but there are many seniors who are not tech-savvy, and will need their children or caregivers to take time off and be present to join and help with the Zoom call.
I asked the hospital why it needed to schedule a Zoom call if the counselling could have been done so easily with a phone call. The answer was that the Zoom call was necessary for signatures to be taken. I am not aware of how signatures can be collected via Zoom.

Better judgment should be exercised in the use of technology, and seniors should be offered other options that better meet their ability and needs. Technology should serve the elderly, not inconvenience them.

Ho Cheong Tong


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: How some people may feel left out amid digitalisation​

OCT 5, 2023

My family was watching the Community Chest: Uniting Hearts 2023 Charity TV Show on Sept 24.
My 87-year-old mother wanted to call in and make a donation to the Community Chest. There was no telephone number on the TV screen during the show for her to call to make a donation. There was a QR code instead.
As she needed an app to scan the code on screen, and then another to make online payment, I tried to show her the steps. In the end, she asked me to make the donation on her behalf.
This incident showed me how the digitalisation initiative may have left people like my mother behind. Without a telephone number to call, she felt that she had missed the opportunity to contribute. Worse, she felt left out.
The digitalisation drive should be better paced so that no segment of society is excluded from taking part in all activities.

Ng Yong Hwee


Alfrescian (Inf)

Cheque usage important to older business owners​

Oct 13, 2023

My bank informed me recently that it will charge a processing fee of 75 cents per cheque from Nov 1 and that it will stop providing corporate cheque services in 2025.

This is no small matter for older owners of small and medium-sized enterprises as they manage their cash flow mainly through the use of cheques.

Please give them a choice on this as many of them may not be competent in areas such as English, computers and mobile phones and are concerned about options for them in this age of technology and digitalisation.

Tay Boon Suat


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: QR code makes it easier for most donors to use e-payments​

OCT 16, 2023

We thank Mr Ng Yong Hwee for his letter, “How some people may feel left out amid digitalisation” (Oct 5).
We are grateful for his mother’s contribution to Community Chest, which supports over 200 critical social services helping individuals and families in need.
We regret that his mother was unable to use the QR code. Since 2020, we have used a QR code to make it easier for most donors to use increasingly common options such as credit and debit cards and PayNow. This approach also allows tax deductions to be provided to our donors automatically.
We recognise that some seniors may be less digitally savvy. Besides approaching their family and friends, seniors can also approach digital ambassadors at various community clubs and public libraries to learn digital skills, including how to handle mobile payments.
We look forward to the continued support from individuals and corporates to meet the current and future needs in the social service sector.

Charmaine Leung
Managing director
Community Chest

Forum: Try and cater better to less tech-savvy seniors​




I refer to the reply “QR code simplifies e-payment processes” (Oct 16) given by the Community Chest to the letter by Mr Ng Yong Hwee (How some people may feel left out amid digitalisation, Oct 5).
The issue he raised was that his mother wanted to donate to the Community Chest but could not, as she did not know how to donate via the QR code.
The Community Chest reply seemed to suggest it was the QR code or the highway. Those who do not know how to use the QR code have to ask their family or friends, or pick up digital skills to do so.
Perhaps a simple manual process, such as allowing phone-call donations for seniors, might be a better way.

Tan Peng Hoe


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: High cost of living creates a dent in dream of pursuing one’s passions​

Oct 23, 2023

In Singapore, prosperity and progress have long been lauded and are key tenets of our society.
Once obsessed with the 5Cs _ cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club membership _ have we now moved away from the era of unbridled materialism? A growing minority champion a departure from this consumer-driven dream, yet the majority still find themselves tethered to the pursuit of high-paying mainstream careers.
The relentless surge in the cost of living is a key disincentive to Singaporeans exploring their passions and interests outside of convention when deciding on life choices. I’ve seen friends opting for gap years or venturing into entrepreneurship, seeking to fulfil their passions. However, the harsh reality is that these non-mainstream career choices often involve arduous work and may come with lower salaries than those of white-collar professions.
More often than not, reality comes knocking, and the high cost of living in Singapore emerges as a formidable adversary. The dream of pursuing one’s passions frequently loses out to the necessity of securing a stable pay cheque. Singaporeans who choose alternative career paths are justified in harbouring some materialistic aspirations. There should not be a dilemma about making trade-offs between enjoying a comfortable quality of life and pursuing other career paths that may align with their passions and interests. Those opting for alternative careers simply desire to live comfortably, indulge in the occasional treat, and not have to worry about financial stability.
The Government’s emphasis on hard work yielding the fruits of our labour was a truism in past generations. I have older family members who, despite lacking a university degree, were able to purchase a three-bedroom condominium in their early 30s. Can the same be said for non-graduate Singaporeans today? The economic landscape has changed drastically, and even graduates today find themselves grappling with the challenge of acquiring a resale HDB flat.
While it’s true that salaries are on the rise, particularly in high-end jobs, the growth is sluggish for blue-collar workers and non-graduates. The economic pie must be more evenly distributed, allowing every segment of society to enjoy the prosperity that Singapore has worked so hard to achieve.
The Government must take measures to alleviate the burden of the high cost of living, ensuring that the dreams and aspirations of every Singaporean, regardless of their passions, interests or educational background, have room to flourish.

Ryan Ang


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Caregiving is different for those with fewer means​

NOV 10, 2023

It is heartening to know that more emphasis is given to understanding mental health issues (Parents take on caregiver role after son develops mental health issues, Nov 9). But it was also frustrating for me to read the article.
The caregivers mentioned seem to be fairly well-to-do, and can afford private healthcare for their child.
I am a single mother caring for three children below 16 who all have mental health issues at the moment. Two have been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with mood disorders, and the other is now having depression.
Sadly, I do not have the means to afford private healthcare for them and we have been referred to the Child Guidance Clinic at the Institute of Mental Health for the past year.
I find the support from public healthcare limited and there is not much collaboration between the psychiatrist or psychologist and schools and parents.
The waiting time is long and the session is short. I feel that I still need more answers and help after a session, and often leave frustrated.
If the long wait time is because IMH is short-staffed, more can be done to bring in more public healthcare staff.

I have also attended the caregivers-to-caregivers programme for persons caring for those with mental health issues mentioned in the article but again, at the end of the day, I need physical assistance, not just empathy from support groups.
I have written to the authorities for better support in the public healthcare system, especially for mental health issues. There are many more like me who need more help in this area. Right now, it is just draining to anyone looking for help.

Lok Pei Ping


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Have more Safra clubhouse activities for retired NSmen​

Nov 30, 2023

I agree with Forum writer Richard Cheng that gyms in Safra clubhouses attract mainly the youth and young seniors (Mindef and Safra can help former NSmen stay fit, Nov 28).
There are also not many activities catering to retired national servicemen.
Most of the activities are for young operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) and their families such as holiday camps, family challenges and activities for children. Strenuous activities like rock climbing and other adventurous sports also attract younger members.
Safra could perhaps work with other stakeholders like the People’s Association and SkillsFuture Singapore to conduct more enrichment courses, activities promoting healthy ageing, leisure music lessons and computing for the retired.
These men could also be roped in as volunteers or part-time instructors to share their expertise, while continuing to socialise and remain active in their golden years.

Patrick Tan Keong Boon


Alfrescian (Inf)
$1.50 per school day....

Forum: Raise amount of bursaries for students​

Dec 9, 2023

I applaud the latest move by the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) to revise the income ceiling for its bursaries so that more needy students can qualify for them (New income ceiling for CDAC’s student bursaries; more needy families to get help, Dec 3).
In line with this move, can CDAC work with relevant agencies to increase the bursary amounts? With inflation, school canteen food prices have risen as well.
I have two primary school-going children, and food prices in the school canteen have gone up from $1.50 to $2 in the past two years.
Recipients of primary school bursaries of $300 per annum would find it hard to get a good meal with this amount.
There are 40 school weeks in a year and five school days in a week. This would work out to $1.50 per school day.
It would be good if the amount for primary school bursaries is increased to around $400. The amounts for secondary school and post-secondary school bursaries could also be adjusted.
The impending increases in the goods and services tax as well as water prices in 2024 would lead to a rise in food prices again.

If the intention is to help low-income families defray the costs of raising children in Singapore, some consideration should be given to increasing the bursary amounts.

Raymond Khoo Tin Wan


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Digitalisation should not come at the expense of the consumer​

JAN 20, 2024

Singapore’s moves to step up competitiveness through digitalisation are commendable. Yet, our zealousness to transform the economy leaves a lot to be desired.
At hospitals, customers who want to pay immediately are being turned away, only to be prompted to pay online via SMSes later, as if using credit cards for payment is any less cashless than direct bank deductions.
Barrier-free carparks, such as the one in Punggol Northshore, deduct parking fees without displaying the parking charge.
The initiative provides administrative convenience to the carpark operator, whose bank account is directly credited as soon as the vehicle leaves the carpark.
But the driver is clueless as to the cost of parking.
To monitor the expenditures, one has to spend extra effort digging through an app or bank statement.
With the SimplyGo initiative, commuters leave a bus or train without seeing immediately how much balance is left on their cards, and they also do not know whether there is enough value to carry on with their journey.

We must not have the impression that we have to forgo certain merits of travelling to achieve further benefits of technology.
We could have forgotten that the eventual goal of using technology is to improve public lives, and not solely to save costs for operators.
The manner by which some things have been digitised in Singapore has instead deprived the public of much of their required services.
Singapore’s institutions must move ahead with digitalisation without cutting costs at the expense of consumers by passing the workload to them or artificially trying to impress the authorities that they are functioning “digitally”, but are instead creating problems and not adding value.

Jimmy Ho Kwok Hoong