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The forum was a message to show the public that the party is well and alive.

Reform Party Budget Forum

In his opening speech, the vice chairman of Reform Party Gopal Prabaharan told the audience that the forum was to show the public that the party is "well and alive."  The SINGAPORE BUDGET 2009 – THE ALTERNATIVE POLICIES Forum, organized by Reform Party, was attended by about 70 people. These included members of the opposition parties such as Mr Steve Chia from the National Solidarity Party (NSP), Mr Sin Kek Tong from Singapore People's Party (SPP), Mr. Gandhi Ambalam, Ms Chee Siok Chin, Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party and members from the Workers' Party (WP), including Mr James Gomez who is back in Singapore for a short visit.

Before the start of the forum, Mr Seelan Palay played a video dedicated to the late Mr JB Jeyaretnam and the audience observed a moment of silence to show their respect to the late opposition giant.

Mr Seelan, co-founder of World Without War, Singapore , spoke up against the defence budget, which was increased to $11.5 billion this year. Instead of of this, Singapore should relook its arms trade with the Burmese junta and he called on Singapore to build peaceful relationship with its neighbouring countries instead.

The second speaker, Mr Leong Sze Hian, started his speech focusing on the issue of transparency regarding  Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (see also Reserves - more or less?). Mr Leong focused also on various policies including the new HDB rental flat restrictiions ( Providing affordable housing – HDB should re-look policies), CPF Life scheme ( Think carefully before opting for ‘no refund’), and measures to help PMETs, and retrenched workers to upgrade (See also The Budget).

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Following Mr Leong, Mr Tan Kin Lian shared his insight on the budget from the survey results collected from his blog. (See also Give your views on budget 2009, Survey: Jobs Credit Scheme, Measures to stimulate the economy)

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When Mr Ravi Philemon took the stage, he focused his speech on three issues: unemployment benefits (Governing a ‘First-World’ Country with ‘Third-World’ Mindsets), elderly care needs and the potential of the silver industry (Alternative Healthcare Economic Policies ), and a green economic policy ( The Alternative Green Economic Policy)

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Dr Chee Soon Juan joined the panel and picked up on the minimum wage and retrenchment topics mentioned by other speakers. Following that, he reiterated his party's position that the budget is not transparent ( Budget spending not transparent) and stressed that bread and butter issues must be addressed with political rights.

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The last speaker was Mr Ng E-Jay who gave the audience a picture of the current economic downturn with a list of news headlines followed by his take on the budget, the economy and the long term issues Singapore faces.  (see also A consolidation of my views on Budget 2009)

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When the forum resumed after a short break with the Q&A session, only a few questions were raised about the Budget.  The focus soon diverted to the anticipated general election, opposition development and the lack of unity among the opposition.

While the speakers provided a wealth of views and insights into the budget and what the government can do to benefit Singaporeans more, there was no opportunity for the speakers to debate and exchange views or draw up a comprehensive alternative policy at the gathering.

Additional photo from the forum

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