There were many good news for Singaporeans delivered through the mainstream media today (23 Jun).
First of all, more upgradings have been announced for the various constituencies in Singapore. Jalan Besar GRC, Chua Chu Kang GRC and Hong Kah North SMC have unveiled their 5-year masterplans for the residents (‘Five-year masterplans unveiled for two GRCs, Hong Kah North SMC‘, 23 Jun).
Elderly friendly amenities such as ramps, lifts and additional fitness corners as well as more parks, sports hubs, wider cycling tracks and footpaths, new hawker centres, communal and entertainment facilities have been announced. “In our town, we have many seniors. We want them to age actively, age successfully and age happily. This is something we want to put effort in,” MP of Jalan Besar GRC, Heng Chee How, said.
There’re also plans for more community gardens, covered walkways and upgrades to existing communal facilities like community halls in Jalan Besar GRC. More than 150 projects are in the pipeline.
“In the next five years, you will see some of your ideas become a reality,” Lily Neo, another Jalan Besar GRC MP assured. “Let us work together to create an even more caring and inclusive Jalan Besar. A vibrant place to live, work, play and build our future together. A special place that embraces our stories, our hope, our home.”
And more than 9,000 ageing flats and 1,000 lifts will also be upgraded in Chua Chu Kang GRC and Hong Kah North SMC. Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Low Yen Ling said, “This is a place we can continue to build our hopes and dreams. Together, a better home for all.”
Bus operators to hire 1,200 Singaporeans as bus captains
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced last Thur (18 Jun) that the 4 bus operators, SBS Transit, SMRT, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead Singapore, are looking to collectively hire a total of 1,200 Singaporeans as bus captains this year. But the news appeared on Straits Times only today (‘Operators aim to hire 1,200 Singaporeans as bus captains this year‘, 23 Jun).
“We are targeting those who are already driving – let’s say, driving taxis, driving tourist buses and private buses. They have the skills,” Khaw said. He revealed that there are currently 10,000 bus captains in Singapore but did not give a breakdown. He only said the 10,000 comprised of a “healthy mix” of Singaporeans and foreigners.
Ex-Assistant Commissioner of Police and Tanjong Pagar GRC MP, Melvin Yong, who is also the union chief of the National Transport Workers’ Union said that the salary for bus captains has, in fact, increased by more than 20 per cent from about $1,650 in 2015 to just over $2,000 currently.
HR agencies to ensure fair hiring for Singaporeans
To help more Singaporeans get employed, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) has also introduced new rules to ensure that employment agencies recruiting candidates on behalf of employers consider Singaporeans fairly for job openings (‘New rules to ensure fair hiring by employment agencies‘, 23 Jun).
From 1 Oct, HR agencies will need to fulfil the new requirements in order to be licensed by MOM. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that discrimination must not be tolerated anywhere, especially at the workplace.
Under the new rules, HR agencies must make “reasonable efforts” to attract Singaporeans to the jobs they are trying to fill. They must also consider candidates fairly and turn down requests from clients to carry out discriminatory hiring. It’s not known how MOM is going to enforce such rules.
Agencies that fail to comply may have their licence suspended or revoked while those that help employers strengthen their Singaporean core will be recognised with a Human Capital Partnership Mark, said MOM.
Ms Alena Salakhova, who is the regional director for recruitment firm SThree and chairs the Singapore executive committee of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, said that although the new conditions will increase paperwork and may slow down the recruitment process, having such a clear regulatory framework provides a level playing field for employment agencies. Ms Salakhova herself used to work in Russia.
No ERP till end Jul with FairPrice freezing prices of daily essentials
Other good news for Singaporeans include NTUC FairPrice freezing prices of 100 daily essential items sold under the FairPrice house brand till end of this year. The items include rice, oil, beverages, poultry, batteries, toiletries and household cleaners (‘FairPrice freezes prices of 100 daily essentials till year-end‘, 23 Jun). On top of the price freeze, seniors’ discounts will also be extended till end of the year.
Marine Parade MP Seah Kian Peng, who is the NTUC Enterprise group chief executive, talked about helping Singaporeans during the current COVID-19 panademic. “In times like these, our resolve to serve Singaporeans has only deepened,” he said. “We reaffirm our commitment to moderate the cost of living for all Singaporeans.”
On top of the price freezing, a reduced-price breakfast set (toast, 2 eggs and 1 hot drink) at $1 for union members and $1.50 for the public will be available from July 3 to Aug 31 at all NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam foodcourts and coffee shops.
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Ng Chee Meng, who is the NTUC Chief, said, “We want to really be alongside Singaporeans as we combat Covid-19, and we will do this little bit for our fellow Singaporeans.”
And finally, no ERP charges will be imposed on vehicles till 26 Jul (‘No ERP charges for at least another month until July 26‘, 23 Jun).
With so many MPs from the ruling party suddenly making an effort to care for citizens, love is indeed in the air for Singaporeans.