Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Bryan Lim Boon Heng took to his Facebook on Friday (22 May), saying that the money spent on National Day Parade (NDP) can be better utilised in providing the retirement scheme for the elderly during this trying time of COVID-19.
Echoing TODAY’s article about using NDP’s funds in dealing the public health crisis, Mr Lim agreed with the writer’s opinion that the taxpayer money can be better utilized during this pandemic, instead of fireworks and 1.2 million fun packs.
To strengthen his point, Mr Lim cited the data from Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on the past years’ expenditure of NDP as he does not have this year’s final expenditure.
“In 2016, about $40 million was spent on NDP. Let’s just assume that only one-tenth ie. $4 million was spent this year (for simplicity’s sake, let’s remove factors like inflation & the likely increased cost of production & goods & services in this pandemic),” he wrote.
Quoting the remark of Brigadier-General Frederick Choo, who is a chairman of the NDP2020 Executive Committee, NDP’s committee are unable to provide any details on expenditure mainly because the procurement process is ongoing as spoken, Mr Lim noted in his post.
Mr Lim added, “This means that not everything has been cast in stone yet so there is still an opportunity to pull the horses back.”
He suggested that if the amount of money is used to fund the SDP’s Retirement Insurance Scheme for the Elderly (RISE), saying, “Instead, 65-year-old & above retirees from the lowest income strata will be able to tide through these difficult times for at least a year, to begin with.”
“Wouldn’t this be more beneficial & meaningful for our retirees who have slogged through their lives to build this nation & who would like to have some form of financial security & piece of mind at this juncture of their lives?
“Wouldn’t their children be thankful & heave a sign of relief, especially if they have lost their jobs or have their pay cut, if RISE is passed as a law to alleviate their financial burden?” he stressed in his post.
While confessing that he has not been watching NDP for a period of time, Mr Lim explained that it was not because he is “unpatriotic”.
But in fact, he said, “I have completed my National Service & reservist training with great dignity & pride- coupled with a few NS Excellence Awards.”
“It is just that I view the current NDPs as an annual masquerade of PAP self-glorification, especially when the unsightly PAP marching contingent comes on screen,” he added.
The SDP member then reiterated his concerns on providing retirement scheme to the elderly, saying, “However, if we have the opportunity to do the right thing now by providing retirement income to our elderly, lessen their burden & put the smiles back on their faces in one of the most stressful & expensive countries in the world, then we jolly well do it.”
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong,” he concluded his post by quoting James Bryce, a British academic.
NDP’s committee should review their cost wisely and prudently
On Thursday (21 May), TODAY’s reader Crimson Toh Luan Chun wrote an article titled, “Funds for NDP funpacks, fireworks can be put to better use to fight Covid-19 outbreak” to call on NDP’s committee to review their moves such as making funpacks and fireworks displays, so that the money can be better use amid this global health pandemic.
Mr Toh noted that NDP will display fireworks at more than ten locations in the country while distributing about 1.2 to 1.3 million funpacks to every Singaporean and permanent resident household.
He continues, “There is no question that these will come at a substantial cost. Are these moves necessary, given that the pandemic has dealt a blow to Singapore’s economy? The money can be put to better use to fight the health crisis. Fireworks displays and funpacks are not essential.”
Noting that he is also looking ahead to NDP every year, he said, “And yet, as we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I cannot help but wonder if the costs of this year’s parade were reviewed wisely and prudently.”
Mr Toh said he convinced that Singapore residents will be willing to “forgo” funpacks and fireworks for at least a year, with the concern of this year’s economy may face recession.
“It is not too late to do these next year or whenever the economy rebounds,” he added.
Concerning of forming crowds during this period of time, he suggested to call off fireworks displays during NDP because it will be difficult to ensure safe distancing among the people, even with more staff members deployed to enforce the rules.
He also recommended that the funpacks should consist only a handheld Singapore flag and low-cost essentials items, such as vitamin C or hand sanitiser.
Before producing the funpacks for all resident households, Mr Toh said that the NDP executive committee should provide an option for households to accept or reject the funpacks.
“This will prevent wastage, should some households find no use for them. This will also demonstrate financial prudence on the committee’s part,” he explained.
He concluded his article, saying, “Ultimately, unless the costs can be made public and justified despite the bleak economic outlook, I suggest that the committee review these moves or do away with them altogether if necessary.”
Netizens find NDP2020 Funpack is a “waste of resources”; over 4,000 people signed petition to opt-out receiving Funpack
According to the NDP’s official website, NDP2020 Funpack includes “family-friendly activity items” such as pledge cards and other celebratory items like handheld flags and torch filters that Singaporeans can use to participate in the show.
It will be distributed to every Singaporean and permanent resident household to “encourage participation” both during and off-broadcast.
Nonetheless, it seems that the NDP2020 Funpack concept did not receive well-response from the netizens as the netizens find it as a “waste of resources” during this period of time.
At the same time, a petition was created by a NUS student, Kaushik Ilango, on Change.org for Singaporeans and PRs who do not wish to receive the Funpack.
It was more than 70,000 people have signed the petition to opt-out from receiving the funpacks at the time of writing.