Feature Stories

A SIWA’s Thirst for Learning


Mr. Ramli Bin Puteh: A SIWA’s Thirst for Learning

IMDA and the Peoples’ Association Active Ageing Council (PAAAC) appoint new Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors (SIWA) every year. SIWAs are seniors in the community who lead a digitally savvy lifestyle and have a passion to impart that knowledge to their peers. In 2019, 36 new SIWAs were appointed, and over 200 have been appointed to date.

We caught up with one of 2019’s SIWA Appointments, 66-year-old Mr. Ramli Bin Puteh, to learn about his journey and what inspired him to share his knowledge with the community.


Tell us about your digital journey. How did you get started?

I got started when I graduated in 1976. IT wasn’t as popular as it is today, where you can see kids playing with their smartphones. Computers were not very affordable, but I managed to buy a PC for myself after I finished school.

I can’t remember the brand of the computer, but it was a very simple machine. I informally taught some people how to use it, so you can say that was my first experience training in IT.

That’s interesting. You were already digitally savvy early on and wanted to impart your knowledge onto others!

Fresh grads back then, we wanted to make an impact in the community. For me, I’ve involved myself in grassroots organisations since graduation. I went from informally teaching people in IT to more formal training when I got involved with Grassroots Leaders.

And this experience parlayed into your involvement with SIWA.

I actually moved to Australia for 12 years after I had heart surgery as I needed a slower pace of life. When I returned to Singapore, I decided to dedicate myself to community efforts once again, this time at Sengkang Community Club.


I was delighted to find out about programmes such as SIWA and SkillsFuture. We decided to use this to organise activities for the elderly at the Community Club. I was encouraged because I saw that the SIWA programme created a good learning environment. At the same time, all my experience can be imparted to the people.

What is your biggest takeaway as a SIWA?

What matters most for me is the elderly. We’re talking about making ourselves future-ready, yet there is a mismatch between expectations and skills that they have. Mindset-wise, there is the fear of the unknown. Once they get used to it, they will feel like they are part of our world.


If I can prove to them, at my age, that I can do it, there shouldn’t be any fear of whether they can master it. Their confidence can be enhanced by us holding their hand and guiding them towards the bigger picture. It must be outcome-based. When they see the results and the fruits of their labour, it will be worth it.

How do you continue to keep yourself updated digitally?

I have been participating in whatever courses that I can. Using SkillsFuture, I can only spend $500 so I’m hoping that next year there will maybe be a bigger top-up. (laughs)

I think we can learn so much online nowadays. The pursuit of knowledge can be ongoing as long as the desire is there. Personally, I think continually equipping ourselves will further enhance our mindset for the future.

What are some of the apps you use frequently?

WhatsApp is the communication tool I use. I’m also on social media apps like Facebook and Instagram.


I also use my phone for internet banking, transferring money can be done from the comfort of my home now. I also use my phone to book hotels, planes and make other online purchases!

What would you say to inspire your peers who are digitally challenged, and those who are hesitant to learn?

How are you going to be ready for the future, to be engaged with the world? You need to make the first step, which is always the hardest. How do we solve the problem of fear? Being an ambassador, it means that I am like you. We have lived through the same life experiences.


So together, doing something simple for the outcome we desire, we can build the roots of success. Again, the thirst for learning must be there. We must be able to look at the benefits and end result. If not, we will be stagnated, backdated and outdated. This comes from me, a 66-year-old man who aspires to be a better ambassador for the community.

The SIWA programme is helping seniors to embrace a digital lifestyle and this in turn encourages those around them to do the same. If Mr. Ramli’s story reminds you of anyone in your life, the next SIWA nominations will be held in the 2nd quarter of each year. To learn more, please visit here.

To find out more about some of our other 2019 SIWA appointments, please watch our video on YouTube.