4G LEADERSHIP COMMITTED TO STRONG PARTNERSHIP WITH NTUC
Taking care of our Merdeka Generation pg17
Womenâ€™s Wing chairman Josephine Teo on its priorities pg28
Zaqy Mohamad about the challenges of looking after two different wards pg20
INSIDE: KEMBANGAN-CHAI CHEE BRANCH LEAVES NO STONE UNTURNED TO CARE FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED RESIDENTS
Contents PUBLICITY AND PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE Lawrence Wong (Chairman) Desmond Lee Chee Hong Tat Seah Kian Peng Lim Wee Kiak Baey Yam Keng Zaqy Mohamad Janil Puthucheary Chiang Heng Liang Diana Pang Dexter Chan Theodora Lai Teo Lin Lee Adrian Liew EDITOR Chung Sang Pok EDITORIAL AND DESIGN Focus Publishing Limited
(A subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings)
PRINTER KHL Printing Co. Pte Ltd PHOTOS Singapore Press Holdings, istockphoto.com
His promotion marks a major step in the leadership succession.
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DPM Heng reaffirms symbiotic relationship between PAP and NTUC He pledges the PAP will never abandon the working man and woman in his May Day Rally speech.
Budget 2019 shows the “Singapore Way” to success Finance Minister: Singapore families benefit from every one of Singapore’s budgets.
All-round support for needy residents The underprivileged in Kembangan-Chai Chee Branch receive holistic help.
WW’s priorities: advocacy, outreach and communications Its new chairman, Mrs Josephine Teo, discusses Singapore women’s role in nationbuilding.
The Magnificent 7
Petir reproduces an extract from the book Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story.
Take control of your own health
Merdeka Generation Package takes effect from July 2019
Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong tells Singaporeans to stay healthy, which will in turn reduce their healthcare costs.
About 500,000 Singaporeans born in the 1950s will gain from it.
20 MCI (P) 121/03/2019 Petir is published by the People’s Action Party Central Executive Committee. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the prior consent of the publisher. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the PAP or the
Heng Swee Keat becomes Deputy Prime Minister
Tale of two constituencies Minister of State Mr Zaqy Mohamad talks about the differences in outreach approaches in Keat Hong and Marsiling wards.
Helping senior Singaporeans cope better with life It has a host of recommendations to help seniors live healthily and with purpose.
PAP POLICY FORUM
Going beyond MPS
Speaker of Parliament Mr Tan Chuan-Jin says the last mile is where the breakthroughs can occur in helping the vulnerable.
PAP POLICY FORUM
Collaborative conversation 4.0 New chairman Ms Theodora Lai says the PPF can serve as a platform for policymakers and the ground to communicate in trust.
Heng Swee Keat becomes Deputy Prime Minister The promotion of Mr Heng, who continues to be Finance Minister, marks a major step in leadership succession BY JANE NG
r Heng Swee Keat has been promoted to Deputy Prime Minister as part of Singapore’s ongoing leadership renewal. Mr Heng, who assumed the post on May 1, 2019, remains as Minister for Finance and continues to chair the Future Economy Council and National Research Foundation. He will be appointed Acting Prime Minister in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s absence. Mr Teo Chee Hean and Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam have relinquished their appointments as Deputy Prime Ministers and remain in the Cabinet as Senior Ministers. Mr Teo continues as Coordinating Minister for National Security. 6
Mr Tharman, who was Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, has been re-designated as Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and continues to advise the Prime Minister on economic policies. He has also been appointed deputy chairman of GIC from May 1. In a Facebook post following the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office on April 23, Mr Lee said the next generation leadership is taking shape, and
A strong crew in Cabinet. Prime Minister Lee remains at the helm, with Mr Teo Chee Hean and Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam as Senior Ministers. Mr Teo (left), taking a welfie with Mr Tharman (centre) and DPM Mr Heng two years ago at a National Day observance ceremony.
is progressively taking over from him and his older colleagues. “The team is working closely together, building up public trust and confidence in their leadership,” he pointed out. In a separate media interview on April 29, Mr Lee said that Mr Heng will play a greater role in the next general elections and carry “more of the political responsibilities”. “That means setting the agenda, pitching the Government's stance and policies to the public, building the younger team, and being ready in all respects to take over from me and my older ministers as soon as possible," he said. Responding to his promotion, Mr Heng said he is honoured by PM’s trust and will do his very best, together with his colleagues, to fulfill the responsibility to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. “All of us in this team are excited to work together and forge ahead for you. We look forward to partnering with all Singaporeans for Singapore, and to strengthening our relations with our partners in Asean and around the world,” he said in a Facebook post. Mr Heng also said: “I am grateful that DPMs Teo and Tharman will stay on as Senior Ministers to share their wisdom.” “We have a strong and united team in place – not only in the Cabinet but as a whole Singapore society.” At a community event a few days later, Mr Heng said he would be supporting PM Lee to review longer-term policies on issues, including ageing population, economic restructuring and social issues that may arise as Singapore’s economy develops amid global changes. He will be studying the greater use of technology and innovation to drive Singapore’s future economy. Pledging support to the 4G team as it progressively takes over, both Senior Ministers Mr Teo and Mr Tharman said they would do their best to ensure a smooth leadership transition, continuity and stability. In his statement following the Cabinet changes, Mr Teo said: “This is
“This is the Singapore way of ensuring smooth leadership transition, continuity and stability. Senior leaders make way in good time for the next generation, share their experience, and help the next generation of leaders to succeed.”
“Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives, and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant, so that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence.”
the Singapore way of ensuring smooth leadership transition, continuity and stability. Senior leaders make way in good time for the next generation, share their experience, and help the next generation of leaders to succeed.” Mr Tharman, in a Facebook post after the announcement, said the changes marked a “major step in leadership succession, and it is a plus for Singapore’s future”. He said Mr Heng “has exceptional ability, mettle and the confidence of the 4G team”. “We have avoided sudden change. It may be unexciting and predictable, but it works for Singapore,” he pointed out. “We will have a strong crew in Cabinet, with PM Lee at the helm, Teo Chee Hean and myself staying engaged as Senior Ministers and, together with our other senior colleagues, providing support to the 4G team as it takes over.” Mr Tharman said the 4G team would have to respond to new challenges as the region and world around us would be less
predictable. Singaporeans’ views and aspirations are also changing, with younger Singaporeans growing up with new ideals and hopes that we must help them achieve, he said. “Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives, and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant, so that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence,” he said. He added the 4G team must carve their own way as leaders, individually and as a team, and progressively leave their own imprint. “Our system of political renewal in government only succeeds if we complement each other and play as a team, work with Singaporeans, and never let success get to our heads or assume that all that worked in the past will work in the future,” said Mr Tharman. “It is how the Singapore story keeps going.”
- Senior Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean
- Senior Minister & Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam
DPM Heng reaffirms
symbiotic relationship between PAP and NTUC
Every worker matters. This is Mr Heng Swee Keat’s pledge to workers to better their lot, in his first speech as DPM
he “close symbiotic relationship” between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will continue well into the fourth generation (4G) leadership and beyond, pledged Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at the May Day Rally on May 1, 2019. He used the 50th anniversary of the NTUC’s first Modernisation Seminar in 1969 as the backdrop to “renew the pledge” that the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made to workers. “In Malay, there is the saying: ‘Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh!’ (United we stand, divided we fall). Truly, the PAP and NTUC have gone through thick and thin together over almost 60 years,” said Mr Heng in a speech to more than 1,600 people, including Cabinet ministers, unionists and business leaders at Downtown East. Mr Heng said the Labour Movement “has always been the PAP’s most important partner”, with ties going back to the postwar years when the PAP and NTUC did not even exist. “NTUC backs the PAP because the PAP is pro-people. It has kept faith with the unions. The PAP treasures its relationship with the NTUC because the NTUC is pro-worker. It remains committed to the self-respect of every working man and woman,
and believes that the purpose of economic development is to improve the lives of all in the workforce,” he said. Mr Heng noted that many members of the 4G team have also been closely involved with the Labour Movement in one way or another, including Ministers Chan Chun Sing, Ng Chee Meng, Ong Ye Kung, S Iswaran and Josephine Teo. There have been many Labour MPs in Parliament since the beginning – from Mahmud Awang and Eric Cheong in the 1960s, to stalwarts like Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Othman Harun Eusofe and Halimah Yacob in recent years. The DPM said the 4G leaders are aware of the importance of what they are inheriting – a shared sense of responsibility that the PAP and the NTUC owe to Singaporeans and the nation. “My generation of leaders is ready to take up the baton and carry forth the mission to create a brighter future for all Singaporeans,” he said, stressing that this is the enduring legacy of the pioneers who gathered 50 years ago at that historic 1969 Modernisation Seminar. “We are confident of achieving our mission. Building on our partnerships, we will take NTUC, our workers and Singapore to the next level. There is still so much we can achieve together,” said Mr Heng, adding that the work to build Singapore is far from done.
“In Singapore, constructive and cooperative unions, together with enlightened employers and a supportive government, have delivered better incomes for workers and steady progress for the country. We must stay on this path, and strengthen trust and cooperation among the tripartite partners, so that despite the uncertainties and challenges in the global economy, we can continue to thrive and prosper together as a nation.” -Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong in his May Day Message
“The Labour Movement can be assured that the PAP will never abandon the working man and woman.”-Deputy Prime Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat
“Let us always put workers at the heart of everything we do — take action, innovate, train. So that they can be more ready, relevant, resilient for the future economy. If we do this, we will be ready to seize new opportunities and work towards the 3Ws – better wages, better welfare and better work prospects.” -NTUC Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng
The strong symbiotic relationship between the PAP and NTUC on full display at this year’s May Day Rally, as the 4G leadership takes over.
KHAW BOON WAN RECEIVES NTUC MAY DAY TOP AWARD NTUC honours a total of 117 individuals and organisations for their contributions in helping workers achieve the three Ws – better wages, welfare and work prospects
EXTRA FUNDS FOR FIRMS
Unionised firms that make the effort to improve their workers’ lives can get an extra 10 per cent funding support from the Labour Movement from April 2020. The funds will come from the Enterprise Development Grant, which currently provides firms funding for up to 70 per cent of the project costs to help them innovate, go abroad or upgrade workers’ skills. To qualify, companies must set up a Company Training Committee (CTC), and commit to raisin the salaries of their low-wage workers or reskilling. A CTC allows the NTUC to embed itself in companies to help workers and employers, taking broad-based national strategies to the company level. The NTUC will set up 1,000 CTCs over the next three years to benefit around 330,000 workers. The relationship between companies and workers is a mutually reinforcing one, Mr Heng noted. “More competitive companies provide better jobs and higher pay for workers, and higher-skilled workers make companies stronger and more productive. Unions are well-positioned to strengthen both.”
Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Secretary-General of NTUC (left), and Ms Mary Liew, NTUC president (right), present Mr Khaw Boon Wan with the top May Day award this year. Past recipients of the Medal of Honour include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (1999) and Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean (2014) and Tharman Shanmugaratnam (2017).
Minister for Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan was accorded the 2019 May Day Medal of Honour by NTUC for his contributions to Singapore's workforce and tripartism, which have left an indelible mark on the lives of our workers. Mr Khaw, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, received this year’s top honour at NTUC’s May Day Awards ceremony on May 3, 2019, held at the University Cultural Centre in Kent Ridge. NTUC president Mary Liew, in her speech, said Mr Khaw stood with healthcare workers during the Sars crisis in 2003 when he was heading the Sars combat team in the Health Ministry. "You walked the talk, you held them together, and you fought their battle, and you uplifted their lives as well," she said. He also promoted productivity so that Singapore workers can be "world class", and enjoy the gains from productivity improvements, pointed out Ms Liew.
In its citation for the Medal of Honour, the Labour Movement said that under Mr Khaw's leadership, centralised academies such as the Singapore Rail Academy and Singapore Bus Academy were established to train public transport workers. To improve rail reliability, he started the "early closure, late opening" initiative to give rail engineers and technicians more time to safely complete repairs, maintenance and renewal work on MRT lines. With the advent of private hire car services, the Transport Ministry and Land Transport Authority worked with the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association to help drivers keep up with the changing landscape. As People's Action Party chairman from 2011 to 2018, Mr Khaw also "affirmed and nurtured" the longstanding symbiotic relationship between the PAP and the NTUC, the citation said. Commenting on his award, Mr Khaw said on his Facebook post: “I am blessed to have worked alongside people who work not for themselves, but for the larger good. The NTUC and the unique Singapore way to the Labour Movement have allowed me to make a small difference to Singapore during the past 41 years.”
王瑞杰重申行动党和职总 将延续紧密的共生关系 每个工人都至关重要。王瑞杰首次以副总理 身份发言时承诺，将让工人的生活更美好。
DPM Heng ulangi jaminan hubungan simbiotik antara PAP dan NTUC Setiap pekerja penting. Encik Heng ikrar tingkat mutu hidup mereka, dalam ucapan sulung sebagai DPM ‘Hubungan simbiotik yang rapat’ antara Parti Tindakan Rakyat (PAP) dan Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Kebangsaan (NTUC) akan diteruskan melewati kepimpinan generasi keempat (4G), demikian ikrar Timbalan Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Kewangan Heng Swee Keat di Rapat Hari Pekerja pada 1 Mei 2019. Beliau menjadikan ulang tahun ke-50 Seminar Modenisasi pertama NTUC sebagai latar “untuk memperbaharui ikrar” yang dibuat perdana menteri perintis, Encik Lee Kuan Yew, kepada para pekerja, ketika itu. “Dalam Bahasa Melayu, ada pepatah: ‘Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh!’ Sememangnya, PAP dan NTUC telah mengharungi jerih payah bersama selama hampir 60 tahun,” kata Encik Heng semasa berucap kepada lebih 1,600 orang, termasuk menteri Kabinet, anggota kesatuan sekerja dan pemimpin perniagaan di Downtown East. Encik Heng berkata, Pergerakan Buruh “merupakan rakan paling penting PAP”. Dengan hubungan terjalin sejak tahun-tahun pascaperang bila PAP dan NTUC belum lagi wujud. “NTUC menyokong PAP kerana PAP adalah prorakyat. Ia terus kekal mempercayai kesatuan sekerja. PAP amat menghargai hubungannya dengan NTUC kerana NTUC adalah propekerja. Ia kekal komited kepada rasa hormat ke atas
setiap pekerja lelaki dan wanita, dan percaya tujuan pembangunan ekonomi adalah untuk meningkatkan kehidupan semua dalam tenaga kerja,” katanya. Encik Heng berkata, ramai anggota pasukan 4G juga terlibat dengan rapat dalam Pergerakan Buruh dalam satu cara mahupun yang lain, termasuk Menteri Chan Chun Sing, Ong Ye Kung, S Iswaran dan Josephine Teo. Terdapat ramai AP Buruh dalam Parlimen sejak awal lagi – daripada Mahmud Awang dan Eric Cheong pada tahun-tahun 1960an, sehinggalah kepada Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Othman Harun Eusofe dan Halimah Yacob dalam beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini. “Pemimpin generasi saya kini bersedia mengambil alih teraju dan meneruskan misi selanjutnya untuk mewujudkan masa depan lebih cerah untuk warga Singapura,” tambah Encik Heng. Beliau menekankan ia merupakan satu legasi yang akan dikekalkan seperti yang ingin dicapai perintis di Seminar Modenisasi 1969 yang cukup bersejarah itu. “Kami yakin dalam mencapai misi kami. Dengan mengukuhkan hubungan kami, akan membawa NTUC, pekerja kami dan Singapura ke tahap selanjutnya. Masih banyak lagi yang boleh kita capai bersama,” kata Encik Heng, yang juga menambah, usaha membangunkan Singapura masih belum selesai.
袖说： “有句马来话说：团结强 大，分裂必垮。行动党和职总 同甘共苦了近60年。 ”
他 表 示 ，职 工 运 动“ 一
动党珍视和职总的关系，因为 职总亲工人，始终致力于让每 个工人自重，并相信经济发展
旨在改善劳动队伍中所有人 的生活。 ”
层中的多名成员和工运关系 密切，如陈振声、王乙康、易华 仁和杨莉明。从一开始，国会
代的马穆亚旺和张润志，以及 近年来的符喜泉、欧思曼和哈 莉玛。
导 班 子 已 准 备 好 接 班，为 所
有新加坡人创造更光明的未 来。 ”他强调，这是于1969年聚
高度。我们还可以一起实现很 多目标。”他也补充，建设新加 坡的工作远未完成。 MAY 2019
மசெக-வுக்கும் தேசிய த�ொழிற்சங்கக் காங்கிரஸுக்கும் இடையிலான ஒன்றியமான நல்லுறவை மறுஉறுதிப்படுத்தினார் துணைப்பிரதமர் ஹெங் ஒவ்வொரு த�ொழிலாளரும் முக்கியம். திரு ஹெங் சுவீ கியட் துணைப்பிரதமராகப் பதவியேற்றபிறகு ஆற்றிய முதல் உரையில், த�ொழிலாளர்கள் அனைவருக்கும் இந்த உறுதிம�ொழியை அளித்தார்.
மக்கள் செயல் கட்சிக்கும் (மசெக) தேசிய த�ொழிற்சங்கக் காங்கிரஸுக்கும் (என்டியுசி) இடையிலான “நெருக்கமாக ஒன்றிய நல்லுறவு”, நான்காம் தலைமுறை தலைமைத்துவத்திலும் அதற்குப் பிறகும் சீராகத் த�ொடரும் என துணைப் பிரதமரும் நிதி அமைச்சருமான ஹெங் சுவீ கியட் 2019 மே முதல் தேதி நடைபெற்ற மே தினப் பேரணியில் உறுதிம�ொழி அளித்தார். என்டியுசி 1969-ஆம் ஆண்டில் நடத்திய முதல் நவீனமாக்கல் ஆய்வரங்கின் 50வது ஆண்டு நிறைவைப் பின்னணியாகக் க�ொண்டு, மறைந்த முன்னாள் பிரதமர் லீ குவான் இயூ த�ொழிலாளர்களுக்கு அளித்த “உறுதிம�ொழியைப் புதுப்பித்தார்” திரு ஹெங். “மலாய் ம�ொழியில் ஒரு பழம�ொழி உண்டு: “பெர்சாத்து டெகு, பெர்செராய் ர�ோப�ோ!” (ஒற்றுமை நம்மை உயர்த்தும், பிரிவினை நம்மை வீழ்த்தும்). மசெக-வும் என்டியுசி-யும் கிட்டத்தட்ட 60 ஆண்டுகளாக எல்லா வகையான சிரமங்களையும் ஒன்றாகக் கடந்து வந்திருக்கின்றன என்பதே உண்மை,” என்று திரு ஹெங் கூறினார். ட�ௌன்டவுன் ஈஸ்ட்டில் நடைபெற்ற பேரணியில், அமைச்சர்கள், த�ொழிற்சங்கவாதிகள், த�ொழில் உரிமையாளர்கள் உள்ளிட்ட 1,600க்கும் மேலான�ோரின் முன்னிலையில் அவர் உரையாற்றினார். த�ொழிற்சங்க இயக்கம் “மசெக-வின் ஆக முக்கியமான பங்காளியாக எப்போதுமே இருந்து வந்திருக்கிறது” என்றார் திரு ஹெங். மசேக-வும் என்டியுசி-யும் அமைக்கப்படுவதற்கு முன்பாக, ப�ோருக்குப் பிந்திய ஆண்டுகளிலேயே இந்த நல்லுறவு நிலவியது. “மசெக மக்களின் நலனுக்காகச் செயல்படுவதால் மசெகவை என்டியுசி ஆதரிக்கிறது. த�ொழிற்சங்கங்களுடனான நம்பிக்கையை மசெக கட்டிக்காத்து வருகிறது. என்டியுசி த�ொழிலாளர்களின் நலனுக்காகச் செயல்படுவதால், அதனுடனான நல்லுறவை மசெக ப�ோற்றிக்காத்து வருகிறது. வேலை செய்யும் ஒவ்வோர் ஆண், பெண்ணின்
சுய மரியாதையையும் கட்டிக்காப்பதில் மசெக த�ொடர்ந்து கடப்பாடு க�ொண்டுள்ளது. த�ொழிலாளர் அணியிலுள்ள அனைவரது வாழ்க்கையையும் மேம்படுத்துவதே ப�ொருளியல் மேம்பாட்டின் ந�ோக்கம் என்றும் நம்புகிறது,” என்றார் அவர். நான்காம் தலைமுறை அணியிலுள்ள பலருக்கும் த�ொழிற்சங்க இயக்கத்துடன் ஏதாவத�ொரு வழியில் அணுக்கமான ஈடுபாடு இருந்திருப்பதாகத் திரு ஹெங் சுட்டிக்காட்டினார். அமைச்சர்கள் சான் சுன் சிங், ஓங் யி காங், எஸ் ஈஸ்வரன், ஜ�ோசஃபின் டிய�ோ ஆகிய�ோர் இதில் உள்ளடங்குவர். ஆரம்பத்திலிருந்தே பல த�ொழிற்சங்க நாடாளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர்கள் நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் இடம்பெற்று வருகின்றனர் – 1960களின் மஹ்முத் அவாங், எரிக் சிய�ோங் முதல் அண்மை ஆண்டுகளின் யூ-ஃபூ யீ ஷூன், ஒத்மான் ஹருன் யூச�ோப், ஹலிமா யாக்கோப் ப�ோன்றோர் வரை. “எனது தலைமுறை தலைவர்கள் ப�ொறுப்பை ஏற்றுக்கொண்டு, சிங்கப்பூரர்கள் அனைவருக்காகவும் ஒளிமயமான எதிர்காலத்தை உருவாக்கித்தரும் லட்சியத்தைச் செயல்படுத்த தயாராக இருக்கின்றனர்,” என்றார் அவர். ஐம்பது ஆண்டுகளுக்குமுன், வரலாற்றுச் சிறப்புவாய்ந்த 1969-ஆம் ஆண்டின் நவீனமாக்கல் ஆய்வரங்கில் ஒன்றுகூடிய முன்னோடிகளின் க�ொள்கையும் லட்சியமும் இன்றுவரை நீடித்து நிலைத்திருப்பதாக அவர் வலியுறுத்தினார். “இந்த லட்சியத்தை அடைய முடியும் என நம்பிக்கை க�ொண்டிருக்கிற�ோம். எங்களது பங்காளித்துவத்தை அடிப்படையாகக் க�ொண்டு, என்டியுசி, நமது த�ொழிலாளர்கள், சிங்கப்பூர் ஆகியவற்றை அடுத்த நிலைக்கு முன்னெடுத்துச் செல்வோம். நாம் ஒன்றுசேர்ந்து சாதிப்பதற்கு இன்னும் நிறைய இருக்கிறது,” என்றார் திரு ஹெங். சிங்கப்பூரை நிர்மாணிக்கும் பணி இன்னும் முடிவடைந்துவிடவில்லை என்றும் அவர் கூறினார்.
shows the “Singapore Way” to success
he key principles of Budget 2019 reinforce the “Singapore Way” of getting things done, said Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat in Parliament, as he wrapped up a lively three-day Budget debate on Feb 28, 2019. This involves putting Singaporeans at the centre of the Government’s plans, strategies and programmes; planning for the long term while taking an adaptive approach to respond to changing circumstances; and working together with the people as a team. “These principles reinforce each other, and have allowed us to do more with less. For instance, in the areas of education, healthcare and policing, we have achieved very credible outcomes despite spending less than what other countries do,” said Mr Heng.
Singapore empowers its people through education, with a good environment for families to grow, and help them earn and save enough for retirement. The best way to take care of people, said Mr Heng, is not via a Robin Hood style of social transfers, but rather to build capacity. For the young, this means giving them a good education and exposure to let them have the knowledge, skills and values to chase their dreams. For workers, they will have access to skills upgrading and reskilling, and be able to operate in an economy that gives them opportunities. There are stronger support systems for those who have fallen behind and need extra help, while seniors can be assured they will get help to age gracefully.
PLAN FOR THE LONG HAUL
Mr Heng cited ageing, climate change and changing economic trends as some of the issues that Singapore has been preparing for over the years. The Government’s plans span many years, as these involve putting in place the right infrastructure, and gradually building up capabilities. “Operating in challenging environments has always been our lot in life, which has taught us to plan carefully. Back in the 1980s, when we were building Changi Airport Terminal 2, we also faced regional and economic uncertainties. But we persevered and overcame these challenges,” he pointed out.
PARTNERS WITH ALL
“We plan for the long term, because we plan for Singapore to be here in the long term.” - Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance
Singapore has done well because it works in partnership with all stakeholders, be it businesses, the community or the people. Singapore seeks to be friends with all to build strong international partnerships for mutual benefit, said Mr Heng. "Having a strong and united Singapore sends a signal that the country can be taken at its word, and will not cycle back on its commitments. It also demonstrates the will and resolve to defend Singapore’s sovereignty and safeguard vital interests, he added”
BUILDING ON FOUNDATION OF EARLIER BUDGETS
Mr Heng stressed the need for Singaporeans to not look at any single Budget in isolation, but rather, how each year’s Budget builds upon previous ones. He said: “We must not see the Budget as simply a bag of benefits that serves some people in one year or the other. It is our strategic financial plan for the future.” The Government has a multi-year plan that tackles the priorities as systematically as possible, he added. Singapore plans ahead for everything, such as what needs to be done to tackle climate change, as well as to grow the economy so that there are resources to do more for current and future generations.
SOMETHING FOR EVERY CITIZEN
Young people, for example, have benefited from stronger support in education, public housing and parenthood over the years, in addition to the opportunities that a vibrant economy brings. Among them: •
The Government provides up to $80,000 in grants for new Build-To-Order flats, and $120,000 for resale flats. It will invest even more later when HDB estates undergo upgrading.
Parents receive a maximum of between $18,000 and $32,000 in marriage and parenthood benefits for each eligible child, and get paid maternity and paternity leave, tax benefits as well as pre-school subsidies.
Middle-income families who may feel “sandwiched”, as they support both retiree parents and school-going children, benefit from other schemes, including significant education subsidies. Without these subsidies, families would have to pay more than 60 times the current fees for their schoolgoing children, said Mr Heng, who added that university fees would also be four times what Singaporean students currently pay for a world-class education.
The Pioneer and Merdeka Generation packages help ease healthcare costs for the parents of the sandwiched class and therefore help with their families’ overall expenses.
Many of the sandwiched class will receive topups this year-for example, to their children’s Edusave account.
“Even if there is nothing new for you this year, you and your family have certainly benefited from every one of our Budgets,” said Mr Heng.
“We must be focused on exploring what works, discard what does not, and execute effectively, so as to achieve better outcomes for Singapore and Singaporeans.” - Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance
Merdeka Generation Package takes effect from July 2019 $6.1 billion committed for package to benefit nearly 500,000 Singaporeans for life
ome June 2019, about 500,000 citizens will receive their Merdeka Generation cards which, in the words of Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat, is a "gesture of our nation's gratitude" to them. The aim of the Merdeka Generation Package is to thank these seniors — those born in the 1950s — for their contributions to Singapore's growth over the years, and to provide them with the necessary support to age actively and purposefully. It also gives them greater
assurance to cope with their future healthcare costs. In his Budget speech on Feb 18, 2019, Mr Heng revealed that the cost of the MGP will be over $8 billion — in current dollars — over the recipients' lifetimes. A total of $6.1 billion has already been set aside for the new Merdeka Generation Fund. With interest accumulated over time, Mr Heng said this will be enough to cover the full projected cost of the MGP. Among the many benefits, MG seniors will be entitled to more subsidies
"This is a significant commitment by the Government. It is important that the government of the day continues to monitor the patterns and cost of healthcare utilisation, and life expectancy over the next 30 years or more, so that the Government is able to meet this commitment." - Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat in his Budget 2019 speech.
at Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) general practice and dental clinics from November 2019. They will receive annual subsidies for chronic illnesses, capped at $340 for simple conditions and $520 for more complex cases. They will also get dental subsidies of between $16 and $261.50, dependent on procedure. “The Merdeka Generation will enjoy many key healthcare benefits for life,” said Mr Heng. “It will provide them better peace of mind over future healthcare costs, while helping them to stay active and healthy.”
Merdeka Generation Package: What you need to know WHO'S ELIGIBLE? •
Singaporeans born from Jan 1, 1950 to Dec 31, 1959 Those born on or before Dec 31, 1949 and did not receive the Pioneer Generation Package All beneficiaries must have obtained citizenship by Dec 31, 1996
WHEN WILL THE MGP START?
All eligible seniors will be notified by April 2019, with the MGP cards sent to them in June.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? •
From July 2019, a one-off $100 PAssion Silver Card top-up Annual MediSave top-up of $200 from 2019 to 2023, starting from July 2019 From July 2019, extra 5 per cent subsidy for annual MediShield Life premiums From Nov 2019, an extra 25 per cent off subsidised bills at polyclinics and public Specialist Outpatient Clinics Special CHAS subsidies at CHAS GP and dental clinics, which are higher than CHAS Blue card subsidies Extra $1,500 incentive to help MGP seniors join CareShield Life when the scheme becomes available for existing cohorts in 2021. This is on top of the previously announced $2,500 sum
- Yaacob Ibrahim, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, on the "burden of history" that the Malay community still carries to this day.
"It is time for us to move on and recognise that academic streaming places self-limiting beliefs on students who think they are only as good as the stream they are in." - Intan Azura Mokhtar, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, on the downside of academic streaming in the education system.
What MPs say about Budget 2019 This year's Budget and Committee of Supply debates saw Members of Parliament file nearly 500 cuts during the nine-day session from Feb 26 to March 8, 2019. Here is a snapshot of what some MPs said.
"While it's important to honour the Merdeka Generation's contributions to Singapore with the Merdeka Generation Package, we in this House also take the opportunity to disabuse the notion that each succeeding generation would automatically be entitled to a package too, over and above the needs that have to be taken care of by the Budget." - Murali Pillai, MP for Bukit Batok SMC, on why future generations of Singaporeans should not expect to receive similar healthcare packages.
"We cannot continue on this path of racing to the last dollar for value of contracts, asking for more productivity from (low-income) workers without paying for tools that aid their productivity improvement, and assigning more tasks to them when we can do some on our own, even something as simple as clearing our own plates or trays after a meal." - Cheryl Chan, MP for Fengshan SMC, on ways to boost productivity.
"Initially, buying local may mean paying a higher price. But we must continue to support local suppliers and vendors so that when volume picks up, prices can drop correspondingly." - Chong Kee Hiong, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, who asked consumers to buy more local produce to boost Singapore's food resilience.
"If the low fertility rate is an existential threat to the nation, then it should be given the highest priority. Singapore has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this problem. Perhaps it's time to throw the kitchen sink." 18
"We need to acknowledge that different communities have different historical experiences and memories. If we are to commemorate the Bicentennial, we must also recognise the less savoury aspects of it -- practices and ideas designed to meet the needs and maximise the profits of the empire at the expense of the indigenous population."
- Ong Teng Koon, MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, who urged the Government to do more to subsidise the cost of raising children.
Tale of two constituencies Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who entered politics 13 years ago, shares his thoughts on his unique position of looking after two wards in two GRCs, social media’s impact on politics and his departure from the private sector
aqy Mohamad, 44, is currently the only PAP MP who is grassroots adviser to two wards, spread across two different GRCs. When Madam Halimah Yacob resigned as MP for Marsiling to contest the presidential election in 2017 (she became President of Singapore in September 2017), Mr Zaqy was tasked by the Party to take over her ward, which is part of MarsilingYew Tee GRC. Mr Zaqy, who is the Minister of State (National Development and Manpower), was struck by how different it was from Keat Hong ward (Chua Chu Kang GRC), which he has been overseeing since 2006. “It is a big contrast in terms of demographics and profile. Keat Hong comprises mostly middleincome residents, living in 4-room, 5-room and executive flats. In Marsiling, the estate is older, with more lower-income households, an estate with one of the highest number of rental flats in Singapore, and the minority population making up about 40 per cent, which is much higher than the national average,” said Mr Zaqy. “The way you engage residents, the work you do on the ground, the kind of activities and outreach you do, is very different. So I work with our grassroots and agencies in the two
divisions quite differently, to cover the very different demographics.”
More sustained approach for Marsiling At Keat Hong, much fewer residents needed or qualified for social welfare schemes. Their concerns were over bread-and-butter issues as well as town developments, estate upgrading and new programmes. They were more concerned about their living environment, well-being and vibrancy around them. The picture was very different at Marsiling. Recalling one of his first home visits, Mr Zaqy said: “In the rental flat, only one light bulb worked and it was in the kitchen. Basic things like this, which are usually taken for granted, was lacking.” While he had worked with lower-income households from rental flats when he was a grassroots volunteer assisting former MP Mr Mohamad Maidin Packer Mohd in Kampong Ubi, this was his first experience looking after rental flat households as an MP. “As an MP, you really have to think through from the systems perspective. What can we do to structure the engagements and
Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Manpower; MP for Keat Hong in Chua Chu Kang GRC Age: 44 Family: Lovely wife, who is a COO at an international law firm, a wonderful daughter aged 18, two awesome sons aged 15 and 9 Trivia: While mostly known to have played rugby, I was also a Grade 8 pianist but I have not played since. At university, I completed a research paper in French but am really rusty in the language now!
assistance to the residents better?” Rather than provide piecemeal assistance, he introduced more sustainable, ongoing programmes to Marsiling residents. At the core is Marsiling Cares, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in March 2019. Marsiling Cares strings together a series of programmes such as Community Scouting (confidence building), Progress Class (mentoring and tuition), M3’s KelasMateMatika (pre-school development) and Community Link (uplifting families with young children), which will also establish two social service hubs for underprivileged families in the estate. He hopes that beyond financial support, the holistic and family-oriented approach can help uplift our underprivileged and bring about social mobility. Mr Zaqy said: “I often ask myself: Why are some families still living in rental flats after 15, 20 years? How can we uplift them? Perhaps we have been looking at these issues from a single dimension, but there’s more that we have to think of. What we then need is a multidimensional approach, with help from the community, government agencies, VWOs and corporate volunteers, to strengthen the families and to help them succeed. Ultimately, I hope to be able to help more of these families ‘graduate’.”
Established relationship with Keat Hong residents “My relationship with Keat Hong residents is more
established, over 13 years. One feature of the relationship has been about consensus. Residents have given very positive feedback about our Makan Kaki engagements. We organise meals – breakfast, lunch, dinners – where residents eat with their families and neighbours. What’s unique is that apart from social programming, we discuss topics of the day, gather their views and even co-create solutions such as re-designing the parks, setting themes for playgrounds or options to make our roads safer.” “This has also helped our agencies translate meaningful developments to fulfil Keat Hong residents’ needs. They are excited about what’s in store up till 2025. We just opened our new Keat Hong CC, which is well-patronised 24 hours, and the new bus interchange. With Jurong Region Line adding an additional MRT station, the upgrading of Sunshine Place shopping mall to enhance F&B options, as well as SAFRA Chua Chu Kang, which will bring a covered swimming pool to the area in a park setting - all contribute to make Keat Hong more vibrant, with greater lifestyle and food options." Mr Zaqy observed that a lot of time is spent engaging with residents because he believed that Singaporeans want to have a say, and that by engaging them, it shows we are supporting active citizenry.
STRONG GROUND PRESENCE NEEDED
A lot more ground presence -- and knowing the ground well -- is needed by politicians to better engage with residents these days, points out Mr Zaqy.
Mr Zaqy has so far contested in three general elections, in 2006, 2011 and 2015. Viewing the changes over the years, he feels that the advent of social media has had the biggest impact on politics in Singapore and, consequently, how the general elections are conducted. “What social media has enabled is how far, wide and quick information travels and how quickly people react to posts – true or otherwise,” he observed. “I still remember the days prior to social media, and MPs or politicians would have two to three days to respond to issues. Today, you need to provide a response within 24 hours. It puts more stress on the whole of Government.” “Your ground presence plays a bigger role, too, or someone would say: 'I didn’t see my MP for the past five years', or This guy is not doing his work.’ There is a lot more ground presence that is required as a result. This is where social media has also helped politicians expand
CONVERSATION their outreach and share updates with constituents, and widened our connections too.” Increasingly vocal and fragmented demographic groups, empowered by social media, is another trend that the Government has to take into account. The response is to, in Mr Zaqy’s words, “do a lot more retail”. “We have to find ways to outreach and go door-to-door to reach residents, almost like selling our policies and connecting door-todoor.” He points out that each PAP MP will have to do his or her part in “representing the diverse interests of society”, by championing their own areas of expertise and concerns, and knowing the ground very well. “As a Government, we need to cover all our bases,” he said. “But it’s also important not to over-tilt. Sometimes the right things to do may not be the most popular things.”
FAREWELL TO 19 YEARS IN PRIVATE SECTOR
Since his graduation from Nanyang Technological University in 1999 with an engineering degree, Mr Zaqy had always worked in the private sector. In April 2018, he quit his last private sector job as a partner in professional services firm Ernst & Young to become Minister of State. He talks about the switch to become a public office holder.
ONE WORLD, NOT TWO
“When I was in the private sector, it was always about balancing time and delivering results as there were no synergies in the roles. Working for the benefit of the nation and the community was fulfilling, but like others who are involved in community service, you just need to balance the two worlds. The advantage today is that there are more synergies in my work, as I am now more focused on community and country everything is within one sphere.”
A GREATER BURDEN “As a backbencher, there is more latitude in terms of what you want to champion, and
being able to criticise policies. Today, there is greater expectations from the community, being given the chance to improve lives and our environment. I can feel more weight on my shoulders as a result of expectations from the public and the community in delivering outcomes.” “I used to joke with my private sector colleagues that the difference between being in the public service and the private sector is, if I messed up, only they, my boss or clients know. I mess up in the public sphere, everyone knows. Thus, I have always respected our public figures, knowing that every decision made has weight and burden attached to it. Each decision will have a great impact on people’s lives and our nation’s future.”
“I used to enjoy rugby and soccer in school. Games like Parliament soccer team’s match versus the Civil Service team in April are a welcome break and a way to bond, including with our opposition MPs. You’ll never walk alone – says this diehard Liverpool fan. “I’m pretty much a movie buff, whether it’s blockbusters, indies or foreign films. Netflix has been my late night buddy when I work late after MPS or late night commitments. I am also a big Game of Thrones fan. Otherwise, my kids influence my music playlists. “If I had a magic wand, I’d wish to slow time down after work to spend more time with the family. I feel that I miss out on a lot that goes on with my other half and kids, and wish I could be there for them always. Sometimes, people say that being in politics takes a lot of sacrifice. On reflection, the real sacrifices for me being in politics are from my other half and children.”
Helping senior Singaporeans cope better with life One in four Singaporeans will be seniors (about 900,000) by 2030, double the number from 2015. Speaker of Parliament and PAP.SG chairman Tan Chuan-Jin, vice-chairmen and Members of Parliament Henry Kwek and Joan Pereira, as well as former MPs Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon and Dr Chiang Hai Ding presented a paper to the Government on how to help seniors live healthily, with purpose and with dignity. The paper, entitled “Empowering Us to Live with Purpose and Dignity in Our Senior Years”, issued in Jan 2019, has recommendations that cover a senior’s physical, mental and financial well-being. Here are the main suggestions:
PHYSICAL WELL-BEING •
Dedicate more resources such as sports facilities, gyms, programmes and instructors to cater to seniors’ needs.
Increase subsidies and accessibility of these subsidies for both generic and non-generic drugs.
Build more integrated housing, which collocates senior housing with healthcare, transportation, shopping and childcare amenities.
Promote more affordable Assisted Living services within public housing, including supporting facilities for seniors at void decks.
Legislate a new strata-title category for the establishment of senior Group Homes with Assisted Living facilities in the private sector.
Provide some allowance for full-time caregivers of frail seniors as well as consider legislation of caregiver leave or offer flexible work arrangements.
Appoint prominent seniors from all walks of life to serve as SG Care Ambassadors to rally fellow seniors to volunteer their time.
Create more and better working opportunities by redesigning jobs to suit seniors, such as the introduction of more flexible work arrangements.
Support ground-up communities of seniors pursuing different interests.
Build more 3G flats with dual-key access so that more seniors get to live with their children without intruding on their privacy. To support intergenerational 4G living, the HDB can consider building units for seniors, with a shorter lease, within the same block as the 3G flats.
The national SkillsFuture programme should put in place more programmes which strengthen older workers' employability, even in their later years.
Review MediSave withdrawal limits for seniors in their late 70s, as well as MediShield Life claim limits and premiums to stay abreast of changing medical cost.
Review the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) per-capita income criteria regularly to match the changing cost of living.
Raise CPF contribution rates for older workers beyond 55 so that all members contribute the same rate of CPF contributions, regardless of how old they are.
Voluntary welfare organisations and selfhelp groups to enlist senior volunteers to establish 24-hour help lines to provide a listening ear to lonely seniors and those in distress.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Successful Ageing to include a workgroup of medical professionals to advise on the psychological needs of seniors.
All-round support for needy residents Sustainable assistance, complemented by a pro-active approach, are the hallmarks of Kembangan-Chai Chee Branchâ€™s help for the disadvantaged. Jane Ng learns that the Branch even has volunteers who attend funeral wakes to find out if the bereaved families need assistance
ABOVE Volunteers (from left) Madam Helen Yong, 59, Madam Cheam Tiew Lin, 72, and Dr Lai Yi Yang, 38, help to distribute eggs and bread to needy residents every Monday evening, rain or shine.
elp comes in various forms to the needy residents in the PAP’s Kembangan-Chai Chee Branch, from free groceries and socioemotional support to guidance on administrative procedures. The volunteers in the branch aim to provide a wide range of assistance to their neighbours. “We also want the help given to be sustainable over a long period, instead of it just being a ‘panadol solution’,” said volunteer Ms Rowena Bhagchandani, who is in charge of communications at the branch and has been a volunteer for the last three years. They are also pro-active, often going out of their way to search for residents who need help rather than wait for them to turn up at the weekly Meetthe-People-Session (MPS), she added. There are seven rental blocks with 1,600 flats in the constituency, more than what is typically found in other branches. Three main areas of support are given to residents:
Regular help with groceries to reduce their financial burden
Since 2011, volunteers have been working with voluntary welfare organisation, Food from the Heart, to provide a weekly bread distribution programme to dozens of residents who need a helping hand. Its original objective was to meet a basic need: ensure that children get a decent breakfast before going to school each day. The scheme has since been expanded to about 160 families, many of whom live in rental flats. Every Monday at 6.30pm, residents who meet the criteria will collect the bread and one other food item, including eggs, fruit and rice, at the void deck of the HDB block. To ensure the distribution goes smoothly, the volunteers would have already put in hours of work behind the scenes. Volunteers from Food from the Heart collect unsold bread from bakeries and hotels on Sunday night, then distribute them to a nearby community centre where branch volunteers deftly slice and repack the bread on Monday afternoon, in time for the evening distribution. Each resident gets a range of sweet and savoury items, while halal items are set aside for Muslim residents. Retired civil servant Ong Yong Hui, 77, a volunteer in the branch team who has worked
tirelessly on the scheme in the last eight years, said: “It is a meaningful outreach as we get to the heart of the problem. It is satisfying to go to the ground and to be able to help those who need it.” One of the Food from the Heart recipients is Miss Lim Leng Sie, 51, a cleaner who lives with her elderly mum. “Every bit counts when you don’t earn much. This means I don’t have to spend money to buy breakfast every day,” said Miss Lim in Mandarin. The second scheme is Project 100=50, a tie-up with Heartwarmers, a charity that works with Sheng Siong supermarket to help residents buy groceries at half the retail price, up to $100 worth of products a month. This programme helps the sandwiched group, or families who fall just outside the income criteria for most of the Government’s help schemes. While they may own their flat and have an income, many have a large family to feed or have family members who are ill and thus face higher expenses. So Project 100=50 was started in January last year where residents get to buy groceries at half price, ranging from food to daily necessities to cleaning products at a rented hall nearby. About 130 residents turn up each month to purchase the items.
Helping hoarders clear their space
The branch has volunteers who look out for residents who are at risk of hoarding behaviour when they make their block visits. They may also get tip-offs from neighbours about hoarders in their midst.
Ms Rowena Bhagchandani (right) with other Kembangan-Chai Chee Branch volunteers.
“Every bit counts when you don’t earn much. This means I don’t have to spend money to buy breakfast every day.” - Miss Lim Leng Sie, 51, a cleaner who lives with her elderly mum. MAY 2019
“By the time the residents come to MPS, the problem is a huge one. If we get to them early enough, we may be able to avoid the problem in the first place.”
- Ms Rowena Bhagchandani, volunteer
If the resident is receptive, the volunteer team then does the massive job of clean up and declutter, and gets them help for emotional issues associated with hoarding They work with a group of agencies, including the National Environment Agency, which does fumigation for cockroach-infested homes; family service centres, whose counsellors talk to the hoarders; doctors to check on their mental and physical health; as well as the Housing Development Board and town council. Regular volunteers shared with Petir anecdotes of cluttered corridors, residents who refused help, or homes infested with crawling cockroaches. Despite the challenges, what keeps them going are the small successes, like when a hoarder allows them to clean the home, and can have a comfortable sleep for a few nights. Mr Richard Toh, 70, feels a sense of satisfaction when he sees improvements to the living conditions of the hoarders. “Many will still hoard but not to the same extent. For the subsequent nights at least, the resident has a liveable place to sleep in,” he said.
of about 10 volunteers, said many residents face issues that start with the death of a family member, especially if the deceased was the sole breadwinner. They offer support and guidance on how to tackle the financial or emotional problems that ensue. “Some want to know how to pay the instalments for the flat. Others may have family or health issues, so we link them to the relevant agencies,” he said. In essence, the volunteers hope that bigger problems can be avoided if help is given to residents at an earlier stage. Said Ms Bhagchandani: “By the time the residents come to MPS, the problem is a huge one. If we get to them early enough, we may be able to avoid the problem in the first place.” For sure, the Kembangan-Chai Chee volunteers avoid “panadol solutions”.
Support in the wake of a death
A team of volunteers take turns to attend every funeral wake in the branch to reach out to the family members. A “network of eyes” on the ground helps them to look out for wakes. Mr Alvin Tan, 52, who leads the group
A grateful resident (second from right) after she has collected the eggs and bread. With her are volunteers from the bread distribution project.
The “declutterers”. (from left): Mr Steven Tay, 64, and Mr Richard Toh, 70, volunteer in the hoarding team to help residents declutter and clean their homes.
Women’s Wing chairman Comrade Josephine Teo shares her thoughts on Singapore women’s role in nation-building and WW’s areas of focus during her chairmanship. Mrs Teo is also the Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs
WW’s priorities: advocacy, outreach and communications 01
You co-chair the Singapore Bicentennial Steering Committee. What is your reflection on the role of our women in history and in the future? When we look back at our history in the last 200 years, it is clear that women contributed as much as men in building up modern Singapore. In particular, when I reflected on Singapore’s DNA, I realise our women often embody the three values that have taken us from Singapore to Singaporean - openness, multi-culturalism, and selfdetermination. In our families, we are often the first to welcome new additions, even if they come from different backgrounds. In our neighbourhoods, women break down barriers and can often be counted on to build relationships between strangers. In the workplace, as bosses and colleagues, we are often champions of diversity, because we too understand what it means to be the minority. There are also many things that bind us as women that can easily cross cultural barriers. Whether it is food, fashion, health and well-being, women build bridges that bring out the best in our multi-cultural society. What inspires me most is the determination that we often see in women. Adversity is not our enemy.
Instead, it brings out our tenacity, our unwillingness to accept defeat, and our willingness to try, and try until we succeed. So, in many ways, women are natural transmitters of the Singaporean DNA. We have a duty to pass on these values so that future generations will know what it is that make us tick and what it is that will keep Singapore going.
As the new chairman of the PAP Women’s Wing, what are your priorities? There are three: Advocacy, outreach and communications. In particular, we want to see more women progress in politics, at workplaces and in civic leadership. There’s always the question of why we don’t have more women Ministers, MPs or even on company boards. I believe there are two main reasons. First, women are more likely to be the main caregiver in families. Whether they exit the workforce or opt for less demanding careers, that would affect their progression. So, our foremost priority must be to enable women to reach their full potential at work. This means more family support and flexible work arrangements. Second, it’s hard to progress without
a track record. We should help more women build up their credentials in areas they may well have an edge, such as in voluntary organisations. That’s what I mean by civic leadership. If we can do these things well, more women can rise to prominence on the strengths of their proven abilities.
Three values – openness, multi-culturalism and a belief in self-determination – have defined the nation’s journey “from Singapore to Singaporeans”, said Mrs Josephine Teo at the PAP Women’s Wing celebrations to mark International Women’s Day. And many Singapore women embody these values, she pointed out. Second Finance Minister Mr Lawrence Wong also had a dialogue with the activists about this year’s budget and how women can benefit from it. Some 250 women activists attended the event, which was held on March 9, 2019 at PAP HQ.
How do you decide what women’s issues WW will champion? The Women’s Wing is not limited to championing women’s issues. The women we represent have broad interests. They want to engage on a range of issues. Our women MPs are therefore more than champions for women. For example, Comrade Denise Phua is a well-known voice for the special needs community. Comrade Intan Azura Mokhtar regularly speaks up for low-wage workers. Their passionate advocacy makes all of society more inclusive. That is why since 2013, the annual WW Conference has had a different focus. Last year, the spotlight was on Smart Women for a Smart Nation to showcase how women can be relevant in a digital future. In this term of Exco, I have appointed three resource persons to take a fresh look
at our areas of focus. Rachel Ong, Poh Li San and Nadia Samdin are all relatively new to WW but they have hit the ground running, heading projects in the branches where they serve. To help refresh WW, they will research and consult. I look forward to sharing their recommendations at the next edition of the WW Conference in September.
Are Singapore women averse to politics?
No more than Singapore men! If you attend our bi-monthly gatherings where Ministers are invited to share political and policy insights, our women activists participate enthusiastically and ask great questions. They display such a thirst for knowledge and ability to understand complex issues - it’s hard not to be impressed. But women are still more likely to
pull back when it comes to taking up leadership roles at the branches and at other party platforms. When called to serve fellow Singaporeans, they willingly step forward. When called to lead, we hope more of them will step up.
How can men in Singapore better support women?
We are blessed in Singapore. Our fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and male colleagues are often our biggest cheerleaders. I do hope that our men, in their roles as bosses and decision-makers, can make a more conscious effort to understand and accommodate the needs of women, and include us in networking and advancement opportunities. Women are apt to repay your recognition many times over! MAY 2019
The Magnificent Unlike most political parties, the PAP has a unique leadership succession system that places heavy emphasis on meritocracy and stabilty. It started in the 1970s, when the party began to pay closer attention to succession. And after a few missteps, the outlines of a viable New Guard were becoming clearer in 1976. The media and the public called seven of the most notable young ones The Magnificent Seven, after the 1960 American Western movie. They were technocrats from the civil service and private sector, raw and new to grassroots politics. Most of them lacked political nous. Among them was a young, tall and somewhat bookish-looking Goh Chok Tong.
The Rise of the Magnificent Seven Beginning in 1976, the talent search pivoted to technocrats who blurred the lines of business and bureaucracy, usually with proven track records of success. Goh [Chok Tong], for instance, had already made a name for himself transforming NOL [Neptune Orient Lines] into a profitable outfit. On hindsight, the timing of their entries into politics was near perfect. They were entering a political cocoon of sorts, buffered from the usual vagaries and viciousness of politics in the developing world. Lee [Kuan Yew] and his Old Guard had banked more than 10 years of goodwill with the people after independence, delivering unbroken economic growth. The abdication of Barisan
Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Mr Goh Chok Tong said the reason for publishing Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story is to encourage younger Singaporeans to step up and serve the country. At its launch on Nov 21, 2018, $2 million was raised for two charities started by ESM.
SPECIAL [Sosialis] in 1966 had also handicapped the opposition’s momentum, clearing the deck of strong adversaries to the PAP [People’s Action Party]. The conditions were optimal. The Magnificent Seven1 would, largely, prove to be more suitable for politics than the batch of PhD holders before them. To the Hwang task force,2 it became clear fairly quickly that there was one among the pack who was the sharpest gunslinger. His stature helped. “Goh Chok Tong stood out, there was no doubt about it,” said Hwang [Soo Jin]. “First of all, he was very imposing physically because of his height. Then, his qualifications. He got a first class in economics and he had industry experience with NOL. Singapore was at a stage where economic development was the top priority. Third, his personality. He was very approachable and prepared to go down to the grassroots. He appeared very gentle, but you could also see that he was full of confidence. And despite the gentleness, I think there was certain firmness in him. He’s got all the attributes. He impressed us from the word ‘go’. By 1979, the Far Eastern Economic Review was calling him the “young managing director of Singapore Incorporated.”
Mr Goh interacts with residents of Bukit Merah estate during his walkabout in 1984. Mr Lim Chee Onn (first from right), MP for Bukit Merah, looks on.
Passing the First Test It helped that Goh was more hardworking and obliging than his peers when it came to clocking up mileage, literally. When the PAP started weekly walkabouts for the young ministers in the early 1980s, he was the most willing and eager to pound the streets, said veteran MP Ch’ng Jit Koon, the organiser of the visits. “Some of the others would find excuses to turn me down, but Chok Tong always said yes,” he recalled with a laugh. “And if I couldn’t find a young minister at the last minute, I would always turn to him because he would agree and was happy to do it.” It was tough work, recalled Goh. The walkabouts covered the entire day and ended only at night. “We had to walk the corners of the whole constituency. I started off by wearing one shirt. Then second time, I became wise and carried extra shirts. I was completely drenched,” he said with a grin, raising his eyebrows at the recollection of his mini learning journey. In the midst of the hustings, Lee announced to Singaporeans that four members of the Magnificent Seven had moved into the PAP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC). Ahmad was made
“First of all, he was very imposing physically because of his height. Then, his qualifications.“ - Mr Hwang Soo Jin
Warming the Fire in the Belly
Mr Goh on an official trip to China with Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1980.
second assistant treasurer; Lim, first assistant treasurer; Ong, second vicechairman; and Goh, second assistant secretary-general. Goh’s position was the highest among the young leaders. It was the first public sign that he was leading in the race to be the next Prime Minister of Singapore, although it was still very early days. Chan Heng Chee, a young political observer then, said there was little reading of political succession tea leaves at that point. “In those days, because there were so many of the Old Guard who were still around, it was not so critical for people who were going to take over. It was like long innings,” she recalled. The 1979 byelection went well for the PAP and it swept all seven seats with nary a hitch. Goh, it could be said, had passed his first test.
“I was stilted in the early years and trying to explain through facts and figures, which was not political. You must convince people. I was used to using facts and figures to convince people.” - ESM Mr Goh Chok Tong 1. The Magnificent Seven refer to the second-generation leaders of the PAP. They include shipping boss Goh Chok Tong, banking high-flyers Tony Tan and S. Dhanabalan, academic Ahmad Mattar, civil servants Lim Chee Onn and Bernard Chen, and architect Ong Teng Cheong. 2. The Hwang task force was set up in the aftermath of the 1976 general election on the request of Lee Kuan Yew. It aimed to monitor the 11 new candidates introduced during that election and identify the next Prime Minister.
Mr Goh’s debut election voting card to Marine Parade residents in 1976.
The Old Guard as Mentors But despite the stellar work he had achieved both on the ground with the party and in the Government, there were kinks which the Old Guard observed in the tall young man compared to his peers. For one thing, his public speaking skills were poor. His voice coach, Sue Greenwood, was not surprised Goh was stiff. Unlike Lee, who was a street fighter, Goh “never really had to sell in public,” she observed. Goh was aware of his own weakness. “I think they (his peers) were probably better,” he said. “Chee Onn was quite good; Tony was very scripted but he was very clear; Dhanabalan was quite a natural; and Ong Teng Cheong was good. I was stilted in the early years and trying to explain through facts and figures, which was not political. You must convince people. I was used to using facts and figures to convince people.” S. Rajaratnam began to pay closer attention to Goh’s speeches and turned up at several events where Goh was speaking. “He would sit there and listen, like a Cheshire cat,” said Goh. “At the end, he would give feedback about delivering speeches in a persuasive way. He would say, don’t give so many figures, people are not interested in figures unless I gave some startling numbers, out-of-the blue figures. Otherwise, the figures would be inconsequential. Giving numbers was what I was fond of doing. Because when you write a speech, what do you do? You look for figures and analyse. In the beginning, my speeches were very analytical, academic types and giving facts. So, he said do not do that.”
While these flaws were minor, the Old Guard took issue with the Magnificent Seven on a sharper and more important weakness. “In the early years, the biggest criticism against us was a lack of passion. Kim San, who was frank enough and who said, ‘You all can do your job, but there is no passion,said Goh, referring to housing czar Lim Kim San. “I think Rajaratnam put it as no fire in the belly. We came in, we were all technocrats. But to govern and to lead, you must have passion or fire in the bellies. This is not just doing a job. It was a criticism, but it was correct.” But Lim [Chee Onn] stressed that it was not true that the second generation lacked passion. It was simply in a different form. “We didn’t have that earth-shaking urge to go and change the world, because we are not built that way,” he said. “But if you tell me ‘Oh, you better go and get it done because Singapore needs it’, I think we were as passionate as anyone else.” For Goh, the fire in his belly took some time to heat up. “Organising secretary (in the PAP) — I organised. Ministry job — I did it. But later, you understood. To move people, to get them to follow you, you must have that passion for the job, to do something,” he said. “When we were put more and more in charge, some of us developed that passion. I certainly developed more passion than in the first few years. It came slowly. Mine must have been a slow ember, not a spark. And you grew into it and realised it was not just an ordinary job. The team itself, collectively, we began to show more understanding for politics.”
The above is an extract from Tall Order: The Goh Chok Tong Story and is reproduced with the courtesy of World Scientific.
Take control of your own health Healthcare costs are expected to rise over the years and, with a rapidly ageing population, there will be growing demand on healthcare services in Singapore. While the Government can subsidise healthcare costs and expand healthcare capacity, all of us need to play our part by staying healthy to minimise the demand on healthcare. Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong; Culture, Community and Youth Minister Ms Grace Fu; and Dr Chia Shi-Lu, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC and chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, met with more than 100 Young PAP members on April 6, 2019 in a dialogue on healthcare issues facing Singapore in the next decade. Here are some suggestions that came up during the dialogue on how people can take more responsibility for their own health.
Nation-wide voluntary fitness test
The Government has rolled out numerous programmes, many of which are free or heavily subsidised, to encourage Singaporeans to exercise more. Mr Gan said he has been thinking about the idea of starting a national fitness test that currently is compulsory for NS men. Such an annual test would be voluntary but anyone who achieves a certain level in the fitness will receive some form of recognition. “The idea is to raise the awareness of the importance of staying healthy and to make exercising a regular routine,” said Mr Gan. Ms Fu said her ministry would fully back this idea. Mr Gan pointed out that exercise does not always need to be done in the gym. “You can do something natural that is part of our daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the escalators or lifts or alight one bus stop earlier and walk to your destination.”
Less sugar but watch the salt intake as well
The Ministry of Health started the war on diabetes recently, encouraging people to consume less sugar. But a more challenging problem may be the intake of salt, which can lead to high blood pressure as well as heart and kidney diseases. Mr Gan said Singaporeans’ salt intake is significantly higher than the recommended level. But such a dietary habit may be more difficult to change because salt is already added in our cooked food diet, especially when we eat out.
Sufficient amount of sleep
A YP member raised the issue of sleep deprivation among Singaporeans. Citing studies, both locally and internationally, which found that we are not getting enough sleep, he pointed out the detrimental effects of the lack of sleep on one’s health. Both ministers agreed that sleep deprivation was an important health issue, which the Government was studying. But Mr Gan noted that there was very little the Government could do to solve this. “I can’t have the power off nation-wide after midnight or mandatory 4G network off so that we have no choice but to sleep,” he said. “All of us have to have self-discipline to ensure we sleep enough.”
“The real solution to our healthcare problems is that every one of us should do our best to stay healthy. In this way, if you’re healthy, no matter how expensive healthcare is, you won’t need to spend much on it. All of us should have a sense of responsibility towards our health.” – Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong
Innovative solutions needed? The rate with which Singapore is building healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics is increasing rapidly. “Even if we can build hospitals and clinics faster, we cannot train enough nurses and doctors fast enough,” said Mr Gan. And even though Singapore had a record enrolment of nursing in 2018, the country is still critically short of nurses. He said: “While we hope to encourage more to take up nursing, there is a limit. We can’t keep taking everyone into nursing, otherwise other sectors would be short of manpower.” "Therefore, we will need to continue to push for productivity and efficiency, as well as look for new and innovative ways to take care of our people’s health," he emphasised.
PAP POLICY FORUM
Going beyond MPS The last mile in helping the vulnerable is the most critical as it is where the serious breakthroughs can occur to close the gaps, says Speaker of Parliament Mr Tan Chuan-Jin at a PPF dialogue
o the extra mile to reach out to those who are most vulnerable in your immediate communities, to help them manage in society. The vulnerable include individuals such as isolated seniors, families who are financially challenged or are facing complex issues, members with physical or intellectual disabilities, and those with mental health concerns. They often lack the resources and support to integrate better with the rest of society, be it in the schools, workplace or communities at large. Speaker of Parliament Mr Tan Chuan-Jin encouraged Party members to actively reach out to the vulnerable in our communities during a fireside chat organised by the PAP Policy Forum (PPF) on April 13, 2019. The chat, themed “Building an inclusive society — societal norms and 36
pressures”, was held at party headquarters. Mr Tan, who is also an MP for Marine Parade GRC, was speaking to 42 activists from Central District branches. The activists also participated in pre-dialogue interactive simulation activity and sharing, discussing difficulties faced by vulnerable communities and related policies.
Walking the talk While the subject of inequality in society is much discussed in the mainstream and social media, Mr Tan observed that there is not always a clear understanding of what the issues are, and that many often talk about it but are not involved in actually helping those who are vulnerable. “It is not enough just to feel pity or to make passionate speeches -we need to be actively involved. In the dialogues I have, I often ask how many are involved and, at best, perhaps five per cent indicate they are. Should we have more talk than action or should we have more action than talk?” he asked. When we are involved, we will have a more intimate insight into the complex issues that abound. It is never straightforward. Many of
us, Mr Tan said, may also be lulled into a lack of action due to the availability of more government public assistance schemes and the presence of voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), giving rise to the perception that help is always at hand for the vulnerable. “We can and should befriend them (the vulnerable). Get to know their issues at the early stage. When we do so, we can begin to be pre-emptive. Working together with government agencies and VWOs, we can help improve lives. Because we are involved, it could make a difference to every family and child we help. We could help open up new, different and perhaps better pathways,” he pointed out.
Be emotionally invested “We need to go beyond the Meet-the-People sessions (MPS). It is not just about writing letters or appeals to the various agencies or ministries. How many of us do follow-ups? We need to know our people better and be emotionally invested in them. The last mile is where we can make the serious breakthroughs in early intervention to close the gaps and prevent the vulnerable from falling through the cracks,” he said.
Mr Tan also cited examples of enlisting corporate partners, which operate in the proximity of communities, to be involved in neighbourhood volunteer activities such as visiting those who are isolated, reading to young children, or even financial planning sessions. Such activities could be conducted on a more regular basis each week, instead of ad hoc, once-off commitments. Because of proximity, and if these activities are better organised, it could be a sustainable partnership. He hoped to see higher levels of community volunteerism and for everyone to get involved and not leave our social responsibilities to teachers, social workers and healthcare workers. “We can organise ourselves better, play our part and we will see society beginning to change for the better because we will also change in the process. Hopefully we no longer just see ourselves as our main reference point but also become more others-centric, and more aware of others’ needs,” said Mr Tan. One of the participants, Mr Fabian Yeo, 52 (Toa Payoh East-Novena), said: “What I have learned is that it is not just about the organisations or agencies, but that we ourselves can do it. We need to step up.”
PAP POLICY FORUM
Collaborative conversation 4.0 BY THEODORA LAI
The writer is chairman of PAP Policy Forum.
ne of the most critical things I have noticed as a source of the growing undercurrent is a lack of understanding of why government policies are implemented and how they actually benefit the people. And given the prevalence of fake news, those who seek this knowledge on their own can face difficulties. We could give a response to a question in an instant, but what is needed, particularly when reaching out to a diverse group, is greater engagement and empathy in approach. By enlisting more to share in the thinking, such a movement will have an effect of establishing deeper knowledge, and give people the latitude to explore and
experiment. Just as the pursuit of innovation is challenging for well-established organisations, how might Singapore today be adept at operating in the New Order? Having found ways to become effective and efficient, perhaps the answer lies in building flexibility and intelligence. Providing avenues to bring more people on board as “lab partners”, devoted to exploring and solving issues together, indifferent to rank and backgrounds, can form an intelligent, learning mechanism that is effective for feedback. In a complex environment, this process and mechanism can, over time, help us to innovate, and even help in our battle against fake
“As PPF celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, PPF aims to continue to facilitate the broadening and deepening of views on national issues, serving as a platform for policymakers and the ground to communicate and strengthen in trust.“ - Ms Theodora Lai, chairman of PAP Policy Forum. 38
news. A key factor of success that we have been fortunate to have is good leadership in Singapore, which brings the larger perspective, helps set the context, and connects the dots internally and externally. Communicating strategic change in an interactive, exposed fashion is never easy. In an environment of rapid change in the digital age, mobilising people to pull together and work hard, given uncertainty about the future, requires a common goal and vision. In addition, the young in particular, requires role models for guidance. Role models need to be personable and possess values that youths can share, to enjoy collectively charting a new path. No one's future is apart from another's. As PPF celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, PPF aims to continue to facilitate the broadening and deepening of views on national issues, serving as a platform for policymakers and the ground to communicate and strengthen in trust. My hope is that by cultivating collaborative conversations with people, and more importantly reach the middle ground, together we can create real impact.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat reaffirms the symbiotic relationship between NTUC and PAP at the 2019 May Day Rally.
Published on Jun 7, 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat reaffirms the symbiotic relationship between NTUC and PAP at the 2019 May Day Rally.