SINGAPORE – Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Mr Leong Mun Wai from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), addressed the Singapore Parliament on Tuesday (18 Apr), discussing the challenges faced by him and his colleague, Ms Hazel Poa.

He emphasized their dedication to advocating for policy changes in areas such as job support, public housing, and education.

Mr Leong’s speech was made during the parliamentary debate over President Halimah Yacob’s address at the opening of the second session of parliament.

Mr Leong focused on the urgent need to refresh the Social Compact, including providing more job support for Singaporeans, strengthening social safety nets, broadening the definition of meritocracy, and promoting a strong sense of shared identity among citizens.

He underscored PSP’s commitment to working with the Government and all political parties to empower the people, renew the social compact, and secure a brighter future for Singapore.

On the topic of job security, Mr Leong acknowledged the widespread anxiety among Singaporeans concerning their livelihoods.

He expressed disappointment with the Government’s response to PSP’s concerns during the previous parliamentary debate, which attempted to paint the party as xenophobic, nativist, and racist.

“We categorically reject such allegations. The PSP has always maintained that for Singapore to achieve greater economic success, we will always need the right foreign talent to complement our Singaporean Core. We welcome the right foreign talent.”

“However, when the quality, number and concentration of work pass holders affect the job security of the Singaporeans, we must speak out. Singapore is a global city-state. Unlike the Americans in New York or the Chinese in Shanghai, our countrymen have nowhere else to go if they cannot afford the cost of living or are displaced from their PMET jobs in Singapore. There is no hinterland for these Singaporeans to retreat to. They will have to leave Singapore and go to another country. We must treasure our citizens and cannot let this happen”

Mr Leong reiterated that the PSP is not against foreign talent, but rather, they are concerned about the job security of Singaporeans.

To address this issue, the PSP has proposed policies such as an Employment Pass (EP) levy of $1,200 per month, increasing the qualifying salaries for EPs and S Passes (SPs) in stages over three years to S$10,000 and S$4,500 respectively, and implementing diversity quotas that limit the total percentage of a company’s workforce from any given nationality.

In terms of housing, Mr Leong and Ms Poa have called for improvements in the financial security of Singaporeans, particularly with regard to the affordability and accessibility of public housing.

The duo has been actively involved in debates on housing policy, reflecting Singaporeans’ deep concerns on this issue. They have proposed two key policies: the Affordable Homes Scheme and the Millennial Apartments Scheme.

Both policies have been researched thoroughly and are considered rational alternatives for achieving affordable housing and family formation while de-linking retirement adequacy from housing prices.

Mr Leong said that Singaporeans are eager for government solutions to the lease decay issue. He finds it hard to understand why there has been no announcement regarding VERS or other solutions for lease decay in the past five years, especially for “a government which prides itself on efficiency and not shying away from politically difficult decisions.”

He stated that the PSP will continue to scrutinize the Government’s housing policies and examine their solutions for the lease decay problem. He hopes their proposed policies will not be dismissed as “raiding the reserves” or “crashing the housing market” simply because they challenge the government’s established policies and frameworks.

Mr Leong also urges the government to engage in more productive debates, allowing for a fair and inclusive discussion in Parliament.

Addressing the concept of shared Singaporean identity and the rights and privileges of citizenship, Mr Leong emphasized the importance of ensuring that all Singaporeans feel like “masters of their own land.”

He expressed empathy for Singaporeans who feel like “second-class citizens” and emphasized that the interests of Singaporeans must be prioritized in the labour and housing markets.

“During my walkabouts, many Singaporeans have expressed to me that they are aggrieved that many naturalised Singapore citizens who arrived in Singapore comparatively recently enjoy most of the benefits of citizenship, and can gain from the resources that past generations of Singaporeans have accumulated, without having to serve National Service or even volunteer service in the SAF Volunteer Corp,” said Mr Leong.

Furthermore, Mr Leong called for lowering the voting age to 18, echoing Workers Party MP Ms Sylvia Lim’s recent statement: “if you are old enough to fight, you are old enough to vote.”

The urgent need to refresh Singapore’s Social Compact may mean discarding many of the old policies to bring Singapore to greater heights, said Mr Leong.

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