Government tightens grip on workplace safety
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is reviewing the penalties and the legislative framework under the Workplace Safety and Health infringements, as Singapore registered 19 workplace fatalities in the first quarter of the year, five more compared to the same period last year. While the overall workplace fatality rate has decreased from 4.0 per 100,000 employees in 2005 to 2.1 last year, the construction sector itself saw an increased from 5.5 in 2011 to 7.0 last year.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was quoted by media as saying, “The situation is unacceptable, and we cannot let it continue. While construction firms face genuine operating challenges, such as worker shortages in some areas and pressure to complete projects on time, the safety and health of workers must be the foremost priority for everyone.” He noted a need to send a stronger deterrent message to employers to arrest the situation.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the studio apartment scheme helps senior citizens with their retirement needs. The scheme allows senior citizens to cash in on their larger Housing and Development Board (HDB) units by selling their current flats for sale proceeds of about S$200,000 each, pay off outstanding loans and purchasing the smaller units in full. Writing on his blog, Mr Khaw noted the need for these senior citizens to have family and community support, hence the Ministry of National Development is “determined to help families who want to stay near to each other realise their dream.”
Singapore third in global education rankings
Singapore’s education system came in third in terms of cognitive skills and educational attainment index compared to 40 other systems around the world. The Learning Curve report, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and published by education firm Pearson, pushed the Republic up two places from the last study done two years ago, where Singapore was ranked fifth behind Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.