Seniors' Health

The Intellectual Octogenarian

Meet a man with a mind as sharp as a tack – this issue’s ‘poster boy’ for active ageing and a regular contributor to The Straits Times’ Forum page, 80-year-old Anthony Goh.


Anthony’s life reads like a novel. In his younger years, he worked in various jobs including a decade with Jurong Shipyard, during which he rose to the position of Production Controller. In 1973, he joined the family’s trading company, which specialised in marine equipment, as CEO. Thirty years later, due to a ‘perfect storm’ of unforeseen circumstances, the company was declared bankrupt. This sudden change of fortune forced Anthony to start a new chapter at the age of 65 as CEO of a Chinese restaurant in Thailand. Four years later he was discharged from bankruptcy and continued working in Thailand as a shipping consultant. In 2011 he returned to Singapore, and to this day works as the representative of a German port crane manufacturer – at the tender age of 80.

Anthony’s constant breakfast companion is a copy of The Straits Times. He recalls his father instilling this habit in him at the age of 10, when the front page carried the news of Mahatma Ghandi’s assassination. Every day, he watches television newscasts back to-back, and regularly reads health magazines and international news magazines, which he buys from city bookstores or reads at the National Library. He knows the Nobel Peace Prize winners of recent years by heart.

Proportionate to Anthony’s appetite for knowledge is his desire to share his views with his fellow Singaporeans, for which The Straits Times’ Forum provides an ideal platform. We learned that his primary motivation for airing and sharing his well-informed views is not ego, but duty. As a living witness to Konfrontasi and our nation’s challenges
during the early years of independence, Anthony feels both pride in, and responsibility for preserving our nation’s founding values.

“I have a duty to perform as our founding fathers have made Singapore a democratic and meritocratic society – multilingual, multiracial, and multi religious. As such, I am exercising my intrinsic right to share what I feel and to throw out what is detrimental to our national well-being.”

Anthony is saddened by the plight of the majority of Singaporean seniors and laments their under-utilised potential in the workplace. “Without doubt, seniors or elderlies can contribute much to nation building. Sad to say, most of them are being left on the shelves. And there is no demand for their services,” he reflected. “Furthermore, the elderly are not encouraged to voice their wishes.”

A product of more Confucian times, Anthony was taught to honour his father and mother in school and at home. With good humour, he reflects on the irony of today’s ‘typical’ youngsters, whom science and technology have made more ‘self-dependent’ and less prone to seeking counsel of their elders.

“Would they ask? And would they listen?,” asked Anthony, posing the rhetorical questions asked by every generation of parents since time immemorial. “However, this much I know – the young ones of today may not want to listen to their parents or elders, but they never fail to emulate them.”

A by-product of remaining actively engaged in current affairs is of course mental sharpness. However, Anthony takes care not to focus only on the mind at the expense of the body and spirit. He is a firm believer in holistic health, and the mind-body-soul connection.

“Neither body, mind or soul can live fully if one of the others is denied its full life and expression. It is not right or noble to live only for the soul and deny mind and body. It is wrong to live for the mind and deny body and soul. We are all acquainted with the loathsome consequences of living only for the body and denying both mind and soul,” shared Anthony.

Anthony lost his father to colorectal cancer and saw his late wife struggle with obesity and surrender to kidney failure at the young age of 57. He became particularly health-conscious after the age of 40, and to this day follows the
internationally acclaimed Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods and olive oil and light on protein. He regularly cooks breakfast and dinner for himself and his daughter, and makes careful choices when eating lunch outside.

Anthony urges senior Singaporeans to ‘listen’ to their bodies and regard food as medicine. He advises younger Singaporeans not to take their health for granted, as they too will soon grow old. He believes that you are never too young to eat well in order to avoid sicknesses and prolong life.

And taking Anthony as a role model, you are never too old to contribute meaningfully to society.

This article is taken from our My Alvernia Magazine Issue #34. Click here to read the issue on our website or on Magzter.