The Progress Singapore Party (PSP)’s Talks Series returns with its second installment, this time featuring a talk by veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon.
The talk, titled “Politics & Planning – The Future of Singapore”, will be held on Mon (16 Dec) from 7.30 pm. to 9.30 pm at Village Hotel Katong, 25 Marine Parade Road.
Members of the public keen to attend the talk are urged to register and secure their seats here as places are limited, according to PSP in a Facebook post on Tue (3 Dec). The event is free.
For those who are unable to make it to the talk, a livestream will be aired on PSP’s Facebook page during the event.
In “Politics & Planning – The Future of Singapore”, Prof Tay will trace Singapore’s formative politics, as far back as from the Cold War period — in which “independence was predicated on alignment with the consolidating Anglo-American global order, while tackling the local Hard Left by the Soft Left” — to the present period, according to the talk’s description on EventBrite.
Prof Tay, an Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture of the National University of Singapore, will also examine how meritocracy in Singapore has purportedly evolved into elitism, which is heightened by formal education whereby such education is “confined to skill and competency”.
The veteran architect will also invite the audience to challenge “standardised methods of governance and planning” by “thinking beyond the limits of current imagination”, in a bid to possibly become the “Boston of Asia” by being the education centre for the region’s best and brightest to live and learn with ours.
“Only then can this little red dot cast its glow to benefit the region and also itself. Casting aside the minority complex, Singaporeans will thus regain our authentic selves to make use of all our strengths, financially, scientifically, educationally innovative, compassionately to make a brand new world all around us,” according to PSP.
Previously, all tickets to PSP Speaker Series’ inaugural talk, titled “Poverty in Singapore & Policy Gaps in our Social Safety Nets”, were taken up in just under two hours.
The talk, which featured former GIC chief economist and managing director Yeoh Lam Keong and was moderated by lawyer Khush Chopra, was held at The Working Capitol on 10 Sep.
The talk was livestreamed from the Party’s Facebook page.
Chopra echoed Yeoh’s view that it was a major policy error that has led the country’s failure in properly addressing poverty. Singapore’s reliance on cheap foreign labour and similar immigration policies have been particularly difficult on those at the bottom rung of the Singapore socioeconomic pyramid, he added.
Regarding the working poor, Chopra reiterated the veteran economist’s message that while wages are rising, it is rising too slowly. As for the elderly poor, the numbers are set to triple as Singapore’s society ages.
Singapore is also inadequately prepared for the impact of technological disruption, Chopra noted in relation to the unemployed poor, adding that the displacement of workers via technological developments and automaton thus becomes inevitable in the future.
Referring to Yeoh’s presentation on the necessary reforms that the Singapore government can eminently afford to undertake, Chopra asked “In 2017 in a FB post you said — and you said it again today –what on earth are we waiting for?”
“To be fair I think the government has moved in the right direction,” Yeoh replied, citing the increase in payouts through programmes such as the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and Silver Support Scheme (SSS), the introduction of MediShield Life for hospital-based acute care, CareShield and ElderShield, and other social support schemes.
However, Yeoh contended that such schemes are not enough in the face of a widening poverty gap and how far so many Singaporeans are from earning a living wage, to the extent that the government might not be cognisant of the scale of the gap.
“I’m not sure they know how far it is above because it hasn’t been measured properly. If you don’t know where it is, you’re thinking you’re making progress but are you doing enough to make a difference to the lives of 250,000 people, is my question.”
Yeoh also challenged the popular misconception that giving people money will make them lazier.
“This isn’t about laziness, this is about survival. If you don’t survive, there’s nothing to talk about,” he stressed.
Touching on its aim for organising the talk in Sep, PSP said that it is an attempt at participating in “the important national conversation on social inequality and poverty which remains a great challenge for both our society and our Government”.
“While many schemes have been introduced to help the poor and bridge the social divide, our social safety net still does not appear to be adequate in meeting the challenges many citizens face,” said PSP.
PSP was set up by former presidential candidate and former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Tan Cheng Bock and several other ex-PAP cadres. The new opposition party received formal approval from the Registry of Societies on 28 Mar.