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PM’s National Day rally: Points for discussion

The following is a letter from a TOC reader on issues raised during Prime Minister's National Day Rally 2011 speech in English

Bill Tng/

I like to raise some issues that I like all Singaporeans to discuss that are pointed out by the PM during his National Day Rally Speech in English. I will keep my points short.

Pt 2: "Took bold decisive move with several measures such as the Resilience Package and the Jobs credit."

The Resilience Package was enacted with funds from the National Reserves. Why was it that previous packages did not touch the reserves at all? How were the previous attempts funded? How much is the drawdown on our reserves now after the application of the funds for the Resilience package?

Jobs credit policy. Good to have however this Jobs credit policy is applied across the board so that companies can hire either P.Rs, work permit holders and local Citizens. How much can this Jobs Credit help locals then and if this Jobs Credit is only applicable to locally owned businesses or does it include foreign owned ones too? We depend on foreign companies too and foregin talents so yes, this policy should not discriminate but i just feel that it disadvantaged local citizens again from getting jobs.

Pt 10: "Government will reach out to all segments of society?"

Question is, does the Gov really listen and debate with us? So far they have started to do so and I sincerely hope they continue as well. More importantly, the Government needs to be transparent in their dealings. I urge the Government to have a Freedom of Information act like so many civilised coutnries does.

Pt 12: "Engagement online... unfortunately medium lends itself to many negative views and ridiculous untruths"

Very true that online tends to create monsters of lies and untruths. Yet the Government's tendency to be tight-lipped about their explanations, reasons and lack of transparency in many issues and the lack of the Freedom of information act lends itself to such creations of negative views and untruths. So it is really on the ONUS of the government to be honest and open with us as citizens to counter such negativity and untruths rather than outright censorship.

Pt 15: "Yellow Ribbon Project" (The project to rehabilitate ex-offenders and lower re-offence rate)

Nothing mentioned about the death penalty in Singapore. I know we had such debates before but we still need to have it. Just because we had debated before does not mean the book is closed.

Pt 21:"Look forward to many more examples of active citizenship"

Yes, after this GE, you can  very much bet on us being more active. But at the same time, Government must realize not every citizen will be on the PAP side.  There will be much activity going on the opposition side so the establishment must be civil and work together with opposition groups.

Pt 22 - 24: "Singaporeans first", Äll our policies are to benefit Singaporeans", "Will not repeat explanations"

Again, there is a failure on the part of the Government for empathy. Yes the net result of the immigration policies is of some benefit to Singapore as it does top up the population since our baby population fails to catch up with rate of death but  the Government should repeat explanations and debate it further. Again, just because it was debated before does not mean we should not close the books on it.

Pt 25 - 30: "Housing"

HDB flats are getting to be at near parity with market rates. Building more HDB flats is a component to reduce that spike but the having private property fluctuations for what is essentially a government ministry built flat is wrong. There should be serious considerations for what is essentially tax payer funded housing projects being sold on the market like private properties.

Pt 31 - 39: University education

It is good to have lots of foreign students but please make sure that the professors are well-trained and not censored as well to provide good, all aorund education that is free from Government/ religious propaganda. I like to have the number of Polytechnic graduates going to Universities increased because i think Poly grads are just as smart and intelligent enough to make it in University.

Pt 40 - 50 : "Jobs"

We need foreign workers because lets face it, how many Singaporeans are willing to work as menial workers? We also need highly skilled foreigners as VPs, Managers because they bring in needed outside experience and knowhow. We do need middle scale foreign talents too. The key issue here is that we Singaporeans realize very much so that we do need foreigners. But as we do not have any form of minimum wage to level the playing field or some other ways, Singaporeans are viewed as more expensive to hire. Even the workers levy is not enough to compensate because in a financial year, the foreign worker levy only makes a small dent in the employer compared to a more expensive citizen as a worker. If we can implement some policy like minimum wage or some other alternative that can level the playing field, then we Singaporeans can compete based on merits alone and not how much wages we demand compared to a foreign talent.

This is one key issue that is touched on by many other articles elsewhere and in TOC so I will not elaborate here.

Pt 57: healthcare or rather Outpatient Medical Treatment"

Seniors needs lots of help here. yes the families are helping but they can only do so much in these tough economic times. Yet I do realize we should not become like the welfare states either. Still, the government I feel can afford to subsidized further medical and healthcare costs not only for the seniors but also make it more affordable to a broad segment of the population, not just lower income groups too.

Lastly, Pt 65 - 73: "Building our Singapore"

Especially Point 72 about building the sense of being Singaporean, or ownership and belonging. For us to feel that we belong, we have to have the sense of enagagement, that our voices are heard. Having a vibrant and diverse political scene instead of a one party system can allow us to have that otherwise it always feels like a dictatorship. reducing the power of the Seditious Act, the Internal Security Act to allow more free speeches and diverse political opinions to be aired can allow us to feel like we can chart Singapore towards a future together. So again, I urge all Singaporeans to make sure that we continue to vote in greater number of opposition candidates so that we can have greater freedoms and a greater say in our future as Singaporeans.