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SEPTEMBER 2018

APPRECIATING OUR MERDEKA GENERATION New three-in-one Jurong Central Plaza, including market to open soon

MPs Gan Thiam Poh & Ong Teng Koon on how they encourage their residents to help themselves.

Minister Indranee Rajah on the characteristics of Singapore Identity

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pg27&28

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INSIDE: WOMEN CAN INFLUENCE FAMILY MEMBERS TO EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY


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 Benjamin Tay Teo Lin Lee Adrian Liew EDITOR Chung Sang Pok EDITORIAL AND DESIGN Focus Publishing Limited (Tel: 6319-2392) PRINTER KHL Printing Co. Pte Ltd PHOTOS Singapore Press Holdings, istockphoto.com

MCI (P) 169/03/2018 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 Government. All rights reserved.

PAP Headquarters Block 57B, New Upper Changi Road, #01-1402, PCF Building, Singapore 463057 Telephone: 6244-4600 Telefax: 6243-0114 Internet: www.pap.org.sg Please send feedback, suggestions and comments to paphq@pap.org.sg.

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SEP 2018

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COVER STORY

Government’s new programmes for housing and healthcare Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced initiatives on housing and healthcare to tackle bread-and-butter issues during the National Day Rally speech.

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CONVERSATION

The essence of the Singapore Identity

GROUNDWORK

YP members talk about their concerns, ™Š‹…Š”ƒ‰‡ˆ”‘Ƥƒ…‹ƒŽ•‡…—”‹–›ƒ†Œ‘„• to healthcare at a dialogue.

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YOUNG PAP

Two MPs give advice on how to build an ‡‰ƒ‰‹‰’”‘ƤŽ‡‘•‘…‹ƒŽ‡†‹ƒǤ

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PAP POLICY FORUM

Transport Minister wants to turn more road spaces to public use Mr Khaw Boon Wan champions a car-lite Singapore to enhance Singaporeans’ quality of life.

BRANCHING OUT

New Jurong Central market is housed in three-in-one building Jurong Central constituency’s new market is housed in the Jurong Central Plaza, which ™‹ŽŽƒŽ•‘Šƒ˜‡ƒ…‘ơ‡‡•Š‘’ƒ†ƒƒ…–‹˜‡Ǧ ƒ‰‡‹‰Š—„‘‹–•—’’‡”ƪ‘‘”•Ǥ –™‹ŽŽ‘’‡ƒ– the end of 2018.

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YOUNG PAP

Let’s hear from the youths

Building an effective social media presence

Ms Indranee Rajah, newly promoted ‹‹•–‡”‹–Š‡”‹‡‹‹•–‡”ǯ•ƥ…‡ǡ discusses the characteristics of the Singapore Identity.

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Leading by example “People help People” is Sengkang South MP Mr Gan Thiam Poh’s mantra, which he also encourages among his residents.

28 WOMEN’S WING

Getting women involved in Smart Nation development Everyone should be involved in the Smart Nation drive so that no group is left behind, says WW chairperson Ms Grace Fu.

BACKBENCHER'S BITE

BACKBENCHER'S BITE

Fighting for the underdog Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Mr Ong Teng Koon roots for the under-privileged.


COVER STORY

“With what we now have, we can achieve so much more together. 100 years from now, Singapore should stand out not just for its modern skyscrapers and world rankings, but for being a nation of boundless opportunities.”

Government’s new programmes for housing and healthcare The Prime Minister addressed bread-and-butter issues at this year’s National Day Rally during which he announced initiatives to tackle these concerns. The Rally was held at the Institute of Technical Education College Central campus

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“Very few countries can make such long-term plans, and anticipate needs and opportunities into the distant future. But in Singapore, we can, and we will. This Government believes it owes it to you to look ahead, share our thinking with you, pool our ideas, and work with you to make it happen.”


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his National Day Rally speech during which he addressed cost of living pressures, healthcare and housing concerns.

rime Minister Lee Hsien Loong devoted the bulk of his National Day Rally on August 19, 2018 to address Singaporeans’ concerns about cost of living pressures, public housing and healthcare. He assured them the Government will do all it can to provide support in these areas to ease their worries, especially the lower-income groups. With more people feeling the strain of rising costs, Mr Lee promised that the major expenditure items – HDB housing, healthcare and education – would remain ƒơ‘”†ƒ„Ž‡Ǥ The Government will also help keep costs low by building more hawker centres – 13 more are in the pipeline – with stalls required to provide economical meals that cost $3 or less. “While the Government will do its part to alleviate people’s cost of living concerns, each of us also has a responsibility to ‘look after our own wallets’ – save water, save electricity, and at the same time, shop around for the best prices and be a smart consumer,” he said. Turning to healthcare, Mr Lee gave his

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commitment to the nation and promised that “no one should be denied medical …ƒ”‡„‡…ƒ—•‡–Š‡›…ƒ‘–ƒơ‘”†‹–dzǤŠ‡

‘˜‡”‡–™‹ŽŽ•’ƒ”‡‘‡ơ‘”––‘Š‡Ž’ citizens, he said. With Singapore grappling with a rapidly ageing population, he announced that the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic ailments, regardless of their income. There was also good news for those „‘”‹–Š‡ͥ͜͝͡•ƒ•–Š‡›™‹ŽŽ•‘‘„‡‡Ƥ– from a Merdeka Generation Package, a scheme similar to the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) that will give them extra support to meet their medical expenses.

Keeping housing estates liveable On housing, Mr Lee pointed out that Singapore’s housing policies have been uniquely successful. He said: “We are the only major city in the world where nearly every young couple getting ƒ””‹‡†…ƒƒơ‘”†–‘„—›–Š‡‹”Ƥ”•–Š‘‡ immediately.” Addressing the growing concern about –Š‡†‹‹‹•Š‹‰˜ƒŽ—‡‘ˆ ƪƒ–•ƒ•–Š‡‹”

99-year leases run out, the PM announced two new initiatives – a second round of —’‰”ƒ†‹‰ˆ‘”‘Ž†‡”ƪƒ–•ƒ•–Š‡›”‡ƒ…Š–Š‡ 60- to 70-year mark, and the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers) for older precincts. Earlier in his speech, Mr Lee also gave an update on Singapore’s relations with its two closest neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia. The fundamentals of Singapore’s relationship with Malaysia have not changed, despite a historic change in government during Malaysia’s general election earlier this year that saw Dr Mahathir Mohamad take over from the Barisan Nasional coalition. Singapore has wide-ranging and —–—ƒŽŽ›„‡‡Ƥ…‹ƒŽ…‘‘’‡”ƒ–‹‘™‹–Š Indonesia and the PM said he will discuss ways to do more together when he meets President Joko Widodo at their annual Leaders’ Retreat in October. “In an uncertain world, Asean is all the more important to us. We have to strengthen Asean and work on our relationships with all our Asean partners,” he said. SEP 2018

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COVER STORY

HOUSING HDB flat owners will enjoy a second round of upgrading under the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) – once around the 30-year mark of their 99-year lease, and again when their flat is 60 to 70 years old. This second round of upgrading comes under the new HIP II, which will begin in about 10 years’ time. Mr Lee also said the existing HIP, which currently covers flats built up to 1986, would be extended to those built up to 1997. This will benefit another 230,000 flats in towns such as Jurong, Tampines and Pasir Ris. When the new multi-billion-dollar Vers is rolled out about 20 years from now, residents in eligible precincts can vote to have the HDB take back their flats when their lease is around the 70-year mark. Mr Lee said the intent is to allow progressive redevelopment of older estates over two to three decades, instead of doing so only when their leases expire. Vers ensures that future generations of Singapore will continue to have affordable homes.

HEALTHCARE About half a million Singaporeans, mostly in their 60s, will benefit from the new Merdeka Generation Package, in recognition of their contributions during Singapore’s early years of independence. With this package, they will get extra financial support for their healthcare needs such as outpatient subsidies, MediSave top-ups, MediShield Life premium subsidies and payouts for long-term care. Mr Lee said the Merdeka Generation Package benefits will not be as generous as that of the Pioneer Generation Package, as the pioneers had less advantages in life. Still, this package will “go some way” to relieve the 1950s generation’s healthcare worries, he pointed out. He also said that more polyclinics will open across the island over the next few years – four in Sembawang, Eunos, Kallang and Bukit Panjang by 2020, and two in Nee Soon Central and Tampines North by 2023. “We will make sure there are affordable, accessible, high-quality primary care all over Singapore,” he said.

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Pemerintah umum program baharu berkenaan perumahan dan penjagaan kesihatan Perdana Menteri Lee Hsien Loong memperuntukkan sebahagian besar masanya di Rapat Hari Kebangsaan pada 19 Ogos 2018 membincangkan keprihatinan rakyat Singapura tentang tekanan kos hidup, perumahan awam dan penjagaan kesihatan. Beliau memberi jaminan bahawa Pemerintah akan menangani ketigatiga perkara ini dengan sebaiknya demi mengurangkan kebimbangan mereka, terutamanya untuk golongan berpendapatan rendah. Dengan lebih ramai orang merasai tekanan kos kehidupan yang meningkat, Encik Lee berjanji tiga perbelanjaan utama – perumahan HDB, penjagaan

kesihatan dan pendidikan – akan kekal dimampui. Beralih kepada soal penjagaan kesihatan, Encik Lee memberi komitmen kepada rakyat dan berjanji bahawa “tiada •‹ƒ’ƒ’—›ƒ‰ƒƒ†‹ƒƤƒ’‡Œƒ‰ƒƒ kesihatan hanya kerana mereka tidak mampu membiayainya.” Pemerintah akan berusaha gigih dalam membantu rakyat, kata beliau. Dengan Singapura kini berdepan dengan keadaan penduduknya yang semakin tua, beliau mengumumkan bahawa Skim Bantuan Kesihatan Masyarakat (CHAS) akan diluaskan kepada seluruh rakyat Singapura yang menghidapi penyakit kronik, tanpa

mengira pendapatan mereka. Ada juga berita baik untuk mereka yang lahir dalam tahun 1950an – kirakira setengah juta orang keseluruhannya – bakal dapat memanfaatkan Pakej Generasi Merdeka, sebuah skim serupa Pakej Generasi Perintis (PGP) yang akan memberi mereka sokongan tambahan bagi menampung perbelanjaan perubatan mereka.

Menjadikan estet perumahan selesa didiami Encik Lee menekankan bahawa dasar perumahan Singapura mencatat kejayaan dengan uniknya. Beliau berkata: “Kita adalah satu-satunya negara bandar SEP 2018

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COVER STORY dalam dunia ini yang mana hampir setiap pasangan muda yang baru berumahtangga mampu membeli rumah pertama mereka dengan serta-merta.â€? Menjawab keprihatinan yang semakin Â?‡Â?‹Â?‰Â?ƒ––‡Â?–ƒÂ?‰Â?‹Žƒ‹ĆŞÂƒÂ– ›ƒÂ?‰ Â?‡Â?—”—Â?ƒ’ƒ„‹Žƒ–‡Â?’‘Š’ƒŒƒÂ?ƒÂ?ĆŞÂƒÂ– mencapai 99 tahun, PM mengumumkan dua daya usaha baharu – mempertingkat ĆŞÂƒÂ–„—ƒ–Â?ƒŽ‹Â?‡†—ƒƒ’ƒ„‹ŽƒĆŞÂƒÂ–Â?‡Â?…‡…ƒŠ usia 60 hingga 70 tahun, dan Skim Pembangunan Semula Awal Secara —Â?ƒ”‡ŽƒČ‹Â‡Â”Â•ČŒ—Â?–—Â?ĆŞÂƒÂ–ÇŚĆŞÂƒÂ–ŽƒÂ?ƒǤ ‡Â?‹Ž‹Â?ĆŞÂƒÂ– ’ƒ†ƒÂ?ƒ•ƒ‹Â?‹ Â?‡Â?‹Â?Â?ƒ–‹’‡Â?‹Â?‰Â?ƒ–ƒÂ?ĆŞÂƒÂ–Â?‡”‡Â?ƒ apabila ia mencecah usia 30 tahun, dalam tempoh pajakan 99 tahun di bawah Program Peningkatkan Rumah (HIP). ‡Â?‰ƒÂ?’‡Â?‰—Â?—Â?ƒÂ?‹–—ǥĆŞÂƒÂ–ƒ™ƒÂ? akan dipertingkat buat kali kedua apabila ia mencecah usia 60 hingga 70 tahun. Kerja-kerja peningkatan kali kedua ini

adalah di bawah HIP II yang akan bermula dalam tempoh 10 tahun dari sekarang. Encik Lee juga berkata HIP sedia ÂƒÂ†ÂƒÇĄ›ƒÂ?‰Â?‡Ž‹’—–‹ĆŞÂƒÂ–ÇŚĆŞÂƒÂ–›ƒÂ?‰†‹„‹Â?ƒ sehingga 1986, akan diluaskan kepada ĆŞÂƒÂ–ÇŚĆŞÂƒÂ–›ƒÂ?‰†‹„‹Â?ƒ•‡Š‹Â?‰‰ƒÍ?ͼͼͣǤ Â?‹ ƒÂ?ƒÂ?Â?‡Â?ƒÂ?ˆƒƒ–Â?ƒÂ?Žƒ‰‹ÍžÍ&#x;ÍœÇĄÍœÍœÍœĆŞÂƒÂ–†‹ bandar-bandar seperti Jurong, Tampines dan Pasir Ris. Apabila Vers mula dilaksanakan kirakira 20 tahun dari sekarang, penduduk di kawasan perumahan yang layak boleh mengundi untuk menentukan sama ada HDB akan mengambil balik ĆŞÂƒÂ–Â?‡”‡Â?ƒƒ’ƒ„‹Žƒ–‡Â?’‘Š’ƒŒƒÂ?ƒÂ? mencecah 70 tahun. Encik Lee berkata, tujuannya adalah untuk membolehkan pembangunan semula secara bertahaptahap dalam masa dua hingga tiga dekad, dan tidak melakukannya hanya apabila tempoh pegangan mereka luput.

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SEP 2018

9


CONVERSATION BY TAN KEE WEE

The essence of the Singapore Identity Newly promoted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms Indranee Rajah discusses the Singapore Identity and her new ministerial responsibilities

e sometimes ask when we will achieve a Singaporean Identity but I think we already have one. Although it is still evolving, the fundamental elements are there, says Ms Indranee Rajah. “We don’t realise that many of the things that we do are not only uniquely Singaporean, but also quite exceptional. We assume that everybody else does it like this. But they don’t. So we are unique. We Šƒ˜‡•’‡…‹ƒŽ“—ƒŽ‹–‹‡•–Šƒ–†‡Ƥ‡—•Ǥ† we must always keep it that way,” she said in an interview with Petir. Ms Indranee, who spoke about the Singapore Identity during the debate

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on the President’s Address in May 2018, elaborated on it during the interview. She was promoted to full minister in the ƒ„‹‡–”‡•Š—ƫ‡ƒ‘—…‡†‹’”‹Žǡ making her the third woman minister in the cabinet. She is also the Second Minister for Education and Finance. She observed: “There are a number of things that I see as very Singaporean characteristics, which contribute to the Singapore Identity.”

When we “chiong” together One of them is “unity or how everybody chiong (rush in Hokkien) together whenever a problem happens.”

That’s when Singaporeans unite to resolve the problem, she pointed out. While we may treat it as a given and are almost nonchalant about it, foreigners have noticed this element of unity in the Singapore Identity. When Ms Indranee meets her foreign counterparts, they sometimes express amazement at the speed at which we are able to resolve issues through collaboration. In their countries, they told her, it’s ‘ˆ–‡†‹ƥ…—Ž––‘‰‡–†‹ơ‡”‡–‰‘˜‡”‡– departments or sections of the population to work together. “But to us, that is expected, right? If something is to be done, we will ask


“No matter what the challenge is, we will try and overcome it. We will try different ways and methods. We will try and sometimes we may fail. But we will keep at it until we succeed.”

INDRANEE RAJAH Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Age: 55 Family: Single Interests: Health and wellness

another department or another person to help and they are usually very helpful and cooperative.” Another aspect of the Singapore Identity is our perseverance, said Ms Indranee. “No matter what the challenge is, we will try and overcome it. We will try †‹ơ‡”‡–™ƒ›•ƒ†‡–Š‘†•Ǥ‡™‹ŽŽ–”› and sometimes we may fail. But we will keep at it until we succeed.”

Next big challenge: tackling inequality For instance, when the SARS epidemic hit in 2003 or when haze shrouded Singapore in recent years, Singaporeans pulled together. Longer-term issues like water supply and the housing shortage

were also tackled together with successful outcomes, she pointed out. “Our next big challenge is inequality – how to reduce the gap between those who ƒ”‡„‡––‡”‘ơƒ†–Š‘•‡™Š‘ƒ”‡‘–Ǥ‡ haven’t solved it yet but we are setting our minds to it. It is built into our Singaporean DNA that we want our people to do better. “It’s also in our Pledge, a promise to each other, that we are going to build a society that is more equal, more just, where we all progress together. So we must Ƥ†™ƒ›•–‘”‡†—…‡–Š‡‹‡“—ƒŽ‹–›‰ƒ’Ǥ ‘—™‹ŽŽ‡˜‡”Ƥ†ƒ…ƒ•‡™Š‡”‡‡˜‡”›„‘†› is exactly equal. But you also don’t want the gap to be so wide that we have a very unequal society. “That will be our continuing task, now and in the future,” she said.

Ms Indranee: Singaporeans “chiong” (unite) together whenever a problem occurs to resolve it.

FOCUS ON PRE-SCHOOLS, SPECIAL NEEDS EDUCATION The education portfolio is not new to Ms Indranee Rajah, having been Senior Minister of State at the Ministry between 2012 and 2015. Then, she looked after the two bookends – preschools and institutes of higher learning such as the Institute

of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics and universities. This time round, she told Petir that she is, together with Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, overseeing special needs education, general education, as well as pre-school education.

On special needs education, she said: “The main objective is for children with special needs to be able to have as normal a life as possible within school, and thereafter when they leave the school system and become adults, to also live as normal a

life as possible.” In this regard, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been collaborating more closely with special education schools. MOE is reviewing how to resource special education optimally in both SPED and mainstream

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CONVERSATION schools and will share its findings in due course. Her second area of focus covers general education, in particular “how to get the right balance between the pursuit of academic excellence and the other things that are also important in life.” There is a perception that it is only a select number of schools that offer a better education and, therefore, give the students a better headstart in life. Ms Indranee wishes to dispel this perception. While there will always be certain very popular schools, Ms Indranee said the MOE has, for some time, been moving to create a landscape where each school has its own area of excellence, which will allow students who have interests

in these areas to pursue their strengths and passions, while developing them to their fullest potential. “It’s a multi-pathway world now” Discussing the ongoing debate between academic and non-academic pathways, she pointed out: “It should not be the case where there’s only one path and that if you did not go through that path, you are not a success. “The world has changed and it’s a multi-pathway world now. By the same token, there are also different measures of success.” The Singapore education system, too, has evolved to equip students for the changed world and has mapped out different paths for different strengths. The

more academically inclined can pursue the JC route while the ITEs and polytechnics are for students who want to pursue a more applied path with more practical skills. Through these pathways, they can become specialists in their own right in their chosen field or craft and also have outstanding careers. “There are many permutations but all the paths are intended to get you to the place that is right for you, depending on your interest, passion and skillsets,’’ she added. While the MOE’s efforts to encourage parents and their children to seek non-degree pathways have been promising, more still needs to be done to overcome their mindsets that the academic track is the only route to success. She identified three factors which would go some way towards changing mindsets

GREATER ROLE FOR WOMEN In her last interview with Petir in 2015, Ms Indranee Rajah said that she would like to see more women play a greater role in society. When asked if she was satisfied with the progress of women thus far, she said a lot of progress has been made but added she would still like to see more women coming forward. “It is not for want of ability. They have just not been spotted, or for various reasons have not come forward.” For instance, she would like to see more women directors on the boards of Singapore companies, she said. Leading a healthy lifestyle is one of her other abiding interests, and her current interest is in human microbiome and how this affects health and diet. Research in this area indicates that the kind of bacteria found in our gut can influence our weight and health. Accordingly, if obesity and poor health are to be avoided, we should eat a variety of foods that are fresh and natural. So whenever there’s an opportunity to indulge in some cooking, which she finds therapeutic, she would stick to the diet suggestions that would encourage a healthy microbiome. Chocolates remain an occasional indulgence, though. 12

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towards non-degree pathways: earning a decent income, deriving a sense of fulfilment in their chosen field, and the way society perceives their vocations. “Society must accord respect to different career fields and acknowledge the importance of what they do.” Citing the pre-school sector as an example, she said more people have been attracted to join as pre-school teachers after its wages and career prospects were given a lift. Over at the Finance Ministry, one of Ms Indranee’s focus areas is to ensure that money is spent “in the correct way” on the different sectors to meet their objectives. For instance, in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, the Ministry needs to assess if schemes designed to help them are indeed achieving the intended objectives. And if not, then how to re-design them.


FEATURE

Being Singaporean Petir highlights some key points from the speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, during the debate on the President’s Address in May 2018

“No matter what our background, each of us has a role to play; each has something to contribute to make Singapore a better place. As in an orchestra, each instrument taken alone may not sound very musical, but together they produce a soaring symphony.” “And we will succeed because of who and what we are – Singaporean.”

Strong sense of selfdetermination

Our commitment to build a better life together

“Our independence was hard won. We will preserve and protect that inalienable right.”

“We are a committed people. When we say we will do something, we will.”

Multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious “To be Singaporean is to accept that all can practice their faiths – as long as you don’t do harm to others. To be Singaporean is to be able to have your own distinct racial identity while at the same time being part of a larger Singaporean family, and sharing a broader national identity with many other races.”

Excellence and exceptionalism (examples) Sports: “Joseph Schooling ™‘‘—”Ƥ”•–Ž›’‹…‰‘Ž† medal in 2016; Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh won gold and bronze medals at the 2016 Paralympics; Jason Chee won table tennis gold at the Asean Para Games in 2017.”

Caring about others: “Singaporeans are a caring people. We have big hearts.” Social: “We have expanded our social networks, increased social programmes and increased social expenditure.” Health:Dz‡ƒ”‡–Š‡Ƥ”•–‹ the world for life expectancy at birth, for both sexes.”

Warts and all “We are by no means perfect. We are champion complainers. And yes, we are kiasu, and we are impatient. But overall, our positive attributes far outweigh our negative ones.”

Unity “We are exceptional – we have achieved extraordinary things – because of our unity, the way in which we pull together.”

Food “We love, love, love our food! ‡ˆ‘”‡™‡Šƒ˜‡Ƥ‹•Š‡†‘‡ meal, we are discussing the next! We have our traditional hawker food but young Singaporeans are coming up with creative new concepts.” SEP 2018

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BRANCHING OUT BY JANE NG

JURONG CENTRAL NEW MARKET Where: Blk 493, Jurong West St 41 Special features: Wider aisles, non-slip tiles, accessible toilets and a sheltered drop-off porch. Cost: $6.2 million Operational: End 2018

Jurong Central MP Mr Ang Wei Neng says the new Jurong Central Plaza will give his residents a place to meet and share good times together.

New Jurong Central market is housed in three-in-one building Strong “can-do” community spirit in efforts to build Jurong Central Plaza

esidents in Jurong Central will get a new market by the end of this year, to replace the one that was †‡•–”‘›‡†‹ƒƤ”‡–™‘›‡ƒ”• ago. It will be housed in a new two-storey building called Jurong Central Plaza, which ™‹ŽŽƒŽ•‘Šƒ˜‡ƒ…‘ơ‡‡•Š‘’‘ –Š‡Ƥ”•–ƪ‘‘”ƒ†ƒƒ…–‹˜‡Ǧ ageing hub on the second – a

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three-in-one concept. The active-ageing hub will be a boon, as seniors make up 14 per cent of the population in Jurong Central – one per cent above the national average. There has been growing demand for more eldercare places in the constituency. The hub will have a day care, an activity centre and a community garden where

health checks, nutrition talks and physical activity classes will be conducted. Work on the new building, on the same site as the razed market, started soon after the 30-year-old market was set ablaze in 2016 by an odd-job worker. Mr Ang Wei Neng, MP for —”‘‰‡–”ƒŽǡŽ‡†–Š‡‡ơ‘”–• to build a temporary market as

The charred remains of the coffee shop and wet market at Block 493, Jurong West Street 41, after the blaze was put out on October 11, 2016. A nearby coffee shop was also damaged, and residents from surrounding blocks were evacuated at the height of the fire.

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BRANCHING OUT well as plan for the permanent one simultaneously. He said –Š‡Ƥ”‡™ƒ•ƒ•ƒ†‘……—””‡…‡ but he was determined to build something bigger, better ƒ†‘”‡‹…‘‹…–‘…ƒ–‡”–‘ the growing needs of the residents. Dz –™ƒ•ƒ…Šƒ…‡–‘„‡––‡” —–‹Ž‹•‡Žƒ†ƒ†„—‹Ž†ƒ’Žƒ…‡ ™Š‡”‡”‡•‹†‡–•…ƒ•Š‘’ǡ”‡•–ǡ eat and gather,” he pointed out.

Six weeks was all it took to build temporary market The immediate aftermath ‘ˆ–Š‡Ƥ”‡•ƒ™ƒŠ‡…–‹… ’”‘…‡••‘ˆŽ‹ƒ‹•‹‰ƒ†‰‡––‹‰ approvals from various ‰‘˜‡”‡–ƒ‰‡…‹‡•–‘•–ƒ”– building the interim market. Mr Ang spent many nights ‡‡–‹‰ƒơ‡…–‡†•–ƒŽŽŠ‘Ž†‡”•ǡ ƒ…–‹˜‹•–•ƒ†‰”ƒ••”‘‘–•Ž‡ƒ†‡”• to hash out the requirements before meeting the various ‰‘˜‡”‡–ƒ‰‡…‹‡•ˆ‘” their support. At that –‹‡ǡƒ”…Š‹–‡…–•ǡ„—‹Ž†‹‰ …‘–”ƒ…–‘”•ƒ†‰‘˜‡”‡– ƒ‰‡…‹‡•™ƒ”‡†–Šƒ–‹–™‘—Ž†

take at least six months to build the temporary market. Mr Ang and his team were not daunted. Š‡‹”‡ơ‘”–•’ƒ‹†‘ơǤ Instead of six months, the temporary market was built in a mere six weeks! It was built on the site of a yet-to„‡‘’‡‡†„ƒ•‡–„ƒŽŽ…‘—”– in front of Blk 498. It was a stone’s throw from the razed ƒ”‡–ǡ™Š‹…ŠƒŽŽ‘™‡†–Š‡ •–ƒŽŽŠ‘Ž†‡”•–‘…‘–‹—‡™‹–Š their livelihoods. ” ‡”› ‘ǡ˜‹…‡ …Šƒ‹”ƒ‘ˆ–Š‡ —”‘‰ ‡–”ƒŽ”ƒ…Šǡ•ƒ‹†–Šƒ– half of the $600,000 needed to build the temporary market was raised in under a fortnight. Most of the funds …ƒ‡ˆ”‘–Š‡…‘•–‹–—‡…›ǯ• supporters, with the rest raised „›•…Š‘‘Ž•ǡ–‡’Ž‡•ƒ†‘–Š‡” organisations. Š‡…‘—‹–›•’‹”‹– ™ƒ•ƒŽ•‘‘—–‹ˆ‘”…‡™Š‡ƒ resident, Mr Ronnie Oh, who ‹•‹–Š‡…‘•–”—…–‹‘„—•‹‡••ǡ •—’’Ž‹‡†–Š‡•–”—…–—”‡ˆ‘” the temporary market.

Mr Henry Ho, vice-chairman of Jurong Central Branch (third from left, seated), said half of the $600,000 needed to build the temporary market was raised in a fortnight.

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The temporary market took only six weeks to put up, thanks to great support from the community.

MP Mr Ang with his Jurong Central branch secretary, Mr Wilson Tan, in front of the soon-to-open Jurong Central Plaza.


WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING AT JURONG CENTRAL

Community Leadership Programme

Student leaders brainstorm ideas on how to help the community.

Started: June 2018 He introduced a German technology that allowed the structure to be completed in a couple of weeks. And he only asked for a token sum of $1. Amid the initial †‹ƥ…—Ž–™‡‡•™‡”‡•‘‡ heartwarming moments, recalled Mr Ang. Strangers he met outside Jurong told him they were rooting for the community, something which surprised and warmed the cockles of his heart. Support aside, the most

“I wanted to turn adversity into an opportunity to re-build, re-brand and rejuvenate the place for residents to gather, to share good food and to share good times together.” - Jurong Central MP Mr Ang Wei Neng

heart-wrenching moment for Mr Ang was when the stall owners were allowed to visit the razed market. Many broke down when they saw that their livelihood and belongings were destroyed overnight.

“Homecoming” with a difference With the temporary market up and running on January 1, 2017, many stallholders, ‹…Ž—†‹‰Ƥ•Š‘‰‡”ƒ†ƒ May Low, 54, decided to set up stall there. But she is excited about moving back to the original location by this yearend, where there will be more customers. “I’m looking forward to the newer and better space. And most importantly, there is no change in rental,’’ Madam Low said. Residents like housewife Lim Geok Chan, 57, said

while she was thankful for the temporary market, it will †‡Ƥ‹–‡Ž›„‡‘”‡…‘˜‡‹‡– and pleasant to shop when the Jurong Central Plaza opens. The year-long construction saw residents having to put up with the noise and dust but Mr Ang said he received nothing but support from the understanding residents. Dz‡‡˜‡”™ƒ–‡†–Š‡Ƥ”‡Ǥ But since it had happened, I wanted to turn adversity into an opportunity to re-build, re-brand and rejuvenate the place for residents to gather, to share good food and to share good times together. It was an opportunity to appeal to the ordinary but kind-hearted Singaporeans to donate generously, to build camaraderie and more importantly, to showcase the ‘can-do’ spirit of the community,” he said.

Aim: Nurture leaders who will contribute to the community. Student leaders, guided by mentors who are Lim Boon Heng scholarship holders, will work with VWOs. About the programme: It began with 60 student leaders spending one day at various VWOs in Jurong to understand their needs. They had a brainstorming session and presented ideas on how students can serve the community. The year-long programme includes mentorship and a career talk by Lim Boon Heng scholarship scholars who are working adults or undergraduates. Students involved: 15 student leaders from each of the four secondary schools : Fuhua, Hua Yi, Jurongville and Hong Kah.

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WOMEN'S WING he PAP Women’s Wing (WW) is urging its members to promote inclusivity in Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation. WW chairperson and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu, said that by ensuring technological …Šƒ‰‡„‡‡Ƥ–•‡˜‡”›‘‡ǡDz™‡…ƒ‘˜‡ in an inclusive way, and not have only a small group race ahead, leaving the others behind”. She made this point in her keynote address at the 6th Annual Conference of the PAP WW on August 25, 2018. She especially urged the WW advisers and Exco members to make a concerted ‡ơ‘”––‘Š‡Ž’‘—”‡Ž†‡”Ž›ˆ‘Ž•‡‡’—’–‘ date with new mobile apps and devices. By encouraging seniors to embrace digital technology and social media, they can become more socially engaged with extended family members, friends and neighbours, she explained. In line with the theme of this year’s conference, "Smart Women for a Smart Nation”, Ms Fu also encouraged more women to take an interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics

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(Stem) industries. Then, a panel of women business leaders and professionals shared their experiences with the 400-strong audience at the event, which hosted a smart technology fair. Reinforcing Ms Fu’s message, Ms Ong Chin Yin, of ride-hailing company Grab, said women are in a good position to enhance inclusivity as they have empathy and can relate to other people better. Ms Janet Ang, vice-president of Learning Solutions and Business ‡˜‡Ž‘’‡–ǡ •‹ƒƒ…‹Ƥ…ǡ‘„•‡”˜‡† the “growing concerns of job loss” with –Š‡ƒ†˜‡–‘ˆƒ”–‹Ƥ…‹ƒŽ‹–‡ŽŽ‹‰‡…‡ǤŠ‡ stressed the importance of “restlessly re-inventing yourself” and said that while ƒ”–‹Ƥ…‹ƒŽ‹–‡ŽŽ‹‰‡…‡–ƒ‡•ƒ™ƒ›Œ‘„•ǡ‹– creates “new collar jobs.” Agreeing, Ms Feon Ang, of social media platform company LinkedIn, pointed out there is a skills gap in Singapore, with top talent in the three most in-demand skills ȅƒ”–‹Ƥ…‹ƒŽ‹–‡ŽŽ‹‰‡…‡ǡ„‹‰†ƒ–ƒ and cloud computing ȅ being lost to organisations overseas. She suggested getting more people to acquire these

Getting women involved in Smart Nation development They can ensure technological change benefits all groups in the community

Women have empathy and can relate better to other people, so they are in a good position to enhance inclusivity in Singapore’s Smart Nation drive.

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“We must develop the skills to do things machines can’t.” - Ms Feon Ang, vice-president of Talent and Learning Solutions for Asia-Pacific, LinkedIn.

“Empathy is key and as women, we are used to understanding and listening deeply to the needs of another person.” - Ms Ong Chin Yin, Head of People, Grab.


specialised skills. Ms Reena Rajasvari, Associate facilitator of learning and development consultancy Rohei Corporation, talked of her “re-invention”. She was a teacher when she became blind at the age of 28. She overcame the odds and is now an inspirational speaker on topics related to adversity quotient. A lifelong learner, Ms Reena has a diploma from –Š‡…ƒ†‡›‘ˆ‡”–‹Ƥ‡†‘—•‡ŽŽ‘”• in Specialist Counselling and now counsels at Changi Women’s Prison. She also co-founded a disabled and under-privileged orphanage in Malaysia.

Smart Technology fair offerings included: GPS FOR THOSE USING WHEELCHAIRS AND PERSONAL MOBILITY DEVICES Has accessibility routes for wheelchairs and PMDs. GOOGLE HOUSE Smart home innovation that acts on voice commands. ASSISTED LIVING PLATFORM Empowers caregivers and vulnerable people with seamless monitoring.

WW members celebrate Singapore’s 53rd birthday.

Food, the people connector There’s nothing like food, especially dishes that are lovingly prepared to foster friendship and camaraderie. That’s exactly what more than 100 Women’s Wing (WW) activists did when they met at their 3rd quarterly gathering on July 21, 2018 at NTUC Centre. The event also celebrated Singapore’s 53rd National Day in advance. They were attending the “Share-A-Dish” gathering, which celebrated the culinary talents of the female activists. Ms Grace Fu, chairperson of PAP WW and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, described the gathering as unique. She said it enabled WW to reach out to female activists. She thanked them for constantly looking out and caring for branch volunteers and residents. Some of them even go the extra mile to take on a “motherly” role in the PAP branches that they serve. Female MPs who attended included Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Home Affairs and National Development); Ms Rahayu Mahzam, MP for Jurong GRC; and Ms Cheryl Chan, MP for Fengshan SMC. And they tucked into a feast that featured, among various dishes, fresh salad with tomato sauce, dry mee siam, longan grass jelly and bubur hitam.

Try my dishes -- WW members bond over food.

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YOUNG PAP BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

Let’s hear from the youths Healthcare, jobs and financial security issues take centre stage at YP dialogue

oung PAP chairman Dr Janil Puthucheary asked Young PAP (YP) members to be “full” and “frank” with their concerns in order to help the Government formulate policies. Go The T Senior Minister of State at the t Ministry of Transport, and Communications and Information C made the remarks to participants at m the h YP Y bi-monthly dialogue on “What worries Singaporean youths today.” About 170 YP and Young NTUC members as well as invited guests of several YP branches were at the dialogue held at PAP headquarters on June 23, 2018. The participants broke up into six groups to discuss their concerns about healthcare, Œ‘„•ƒ†Ƥƒ…‹ƒŽ•‡…—”‹–›ǡ™‹–Š–™‘ groups focusing on each topic. In their presentations, representatives from the groups highlighted their concerns about the high cost of living, healthcare and career stability in an age

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of disruptive technologies. They also wondered if people are “over-insured” with both government and private medical insurance. Other issues raised include the stigma of mental illness and enhancing the •‘ˆ–•‹ŽŽ•‘ˆ‡†‹…ƒŽ•–ƒơǡ‡•’‡…‹ƒŽŽ›‹ communicating with patients. Certain –‡ƒ•ƒŽ•‘Š‹‰ŠŽ‹‰Š–‡†–Š‡†‹ƥ…—Ž–›‘ˆ Ž‘…ƒŽ™‘”‡”•Ƥ†‹‰Œ‘„•ǡƒ†•—‰‰‡•–‡† lengthening internships so that job seekers will have more experience.

Viewpoints from MPs and YP advisers Several MPs and YP advisers were on hand to add to the discussion. Ms Tin Pei Ling, a YP vice ce chairman, commented thatt although the participants are young and in the prime of their lives, she could see that they are concerned about rising healthcare costs, which are ƒơ‡…–‹‰–Š‡‹”’ƒ”‡–•ƒ†‰”ƒ†’ƒ”‡–•Ǥ The MacPherson SMC MP also pointed out that not everyone requires additional private insurance coverage with its high premiums. MediShield Life is enough to cover the hospitalisation cost of most people, she said. On the issue of mental health, Mr Amrin Amin,, MP for Sembawang GRC and and Senior Parliamentary Secretary, (Ministry of Se ‡ƒŽ–Šƒ† ‘‡ơƒ‹”•Ȍ and a also a YP vice chairman, said saii that some people are sa reluctant to seek help from l t the Institute of Mental Health because of the stigma associated with mental health problems. To rectify this situation, treatment has been “decentralised” with health counsellors located at schools and mental health clinics at polyclinics and hospitals. He added the authorities are looking at policies to ensure the cost of medical treatment and medicine remain ƒơ‘”†ƒ„Ž‡Ǥ Mr Christopher De Souza, MP M for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said he had T suggested to Parliament s

to implement measures for the continuing training and career progression of allied healthcare workers. Mr De Souza, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Health, explained –Šƒ–‡†‹…ƒŽ–”‡ƒ–‡–‹•ƒ–‡ƒ‡ơ‘”–ǡ with doctors at the forefront, supported by allied healthcare workers. Another MP, Mr Liang A Eng Hwa, (HollandEn Bukit Timah GRC) and B cchairman of the GPC for Finance and Trade fo said the most and Industry, I practical way to tackle the rising cost of living was to uplift the income level. He pointed out that this had risen by around four per cent in the last 10 years. He said more than 20,000 jobs were created last year, and that the lower-income group is being helped by subsidies for education and housing. He also said that certain costs go up because of rising wages as businesses pass these added expenses to customers. On the cost of homes adding to the high cost of living, Mr Liang observed that HDB Š‘‡•ƒ”‡’”‹…‡†ƒ–Ƥ˜‡–‹‡•‘ˆƒ—ƒŽ income compared to 16 to 17 times for homes in Hong Kong.

Local vs foreign workers, longer internships Commenting on the observation that companies prefer to hire hi foreigners, Mr Teo Ser Luck, MP for Pasir S Ris-Punggol GRC, and R founder of several startfo ups, ups explained: “I have an e-commerce business and the operations need to start at 5.30 am. I have tried to ’Žƒ…‡Ž‘…ƒŽ™‘”‡”•Ƥ”•–„—–Šƒ˜‡‘– been successful in hiring. Currently, the majority of the workers in the production line are foreign workers. It’s not just costs. It’s about who’s willing and who’s not.” Mr Teo also urged Singapore’s youths to continually acquire the relevant skills to keep pace with emerging technologies. For instance, those doing bookkeeping should Ž‡ƒ”–‘—•‡ƒ†˜ƒ…‡•‘ˆ–™ƒ”‡‡ơ‡…–‹˜‡Ž› and understand the implications of ƒ”–‹Ƥ…‹ƒŽ‹–‡ŽŽ‹‰‡…‡ƒ†ƒ—–‘ƒ–‹‘Ǥ He said: “These have not been implemented yet but such knowledge will †‡Ƥ‹–‡Ž›„‡Šƒ†›Ǥdz On the suggestion by some YP members to extend internships p from six months to at least a year, Ms Sun Xueling, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Senior Parliamentary Secretary ȋ‹‹•–”›‘ˆ ‘‡ơƒ‹”• and National Development), said id internships are important because interns can judge for themselves how relevant their skills are in the marketplace. It is also an opportunity for interns to get a sense of working life, envision applying their skills to a job and expand networks. Ms Sun shared: “Internships should be as long as it takes for you to get a good sense of the industry and how suitable you are for the industry.” She encouraged YP members to discuss with their Institutes of Higher Learning regarding internship tenures and opportunities. SEP 2018

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YOUNG PAP ocial media is an avenue to let others know who we are and what we do. It’s a platform for self-expression and outreach, to inspire, mobilise and leave an impression. We discussed “Building a Social Media Presence for Impact” at the Young PAP Exco Meeting on April 7, 2018. The guest speakers at the bi-monthly event at PAP headquarters are two MPs who are active social media users: Baey Yam Keng and Amrin Amin. They pointed out that social media is very much about making a personal connection, so content has to have a more ’‡”•‘ƒŽ–‘—…Šǡƒ†„‡Ž‡••‘ƥ…‹‘—•‹ style and tone.

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Building an effective social media presence Two MPs who are active social media users share their thoughts on using social media to engage with their residents

Social media expands your audience Mr Baey, MP for Tampines GRC and Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Transport said: “Social media serves as our newsroom. Not everyone pays attention to notice boards or reads newsletters. Neither do they attend block parties, but they might follow social media. So we need to go to where these people are, by reaching out to them via social media. “When they are aware of what the PAP branch is doing, they get to know us better. If what we do resonates with them, it translates into a positive feeling. Social media helps to amplify what we are already doing on the ground. Ultimately, it is the authenticity that people like.” Mr Baey said even with our regular activities like Meet-the-People Sessions ȋȌǡ™‡…ƒƤ††‹ơ‡”‡–ƒ‰Ž‡•–‘ share about it on social media. This helps the public to understand how we are serving the community and how they could seek help. Adding to Mr Baey’s call to be creative, such as describing the attendance or atmosphere at MPS, as not many people are familiar with these sessions, Mr Amrin urged YP members “to be human, be yourself and be authentic”. Mr Amrin said: “Let people get to know ›‘—Ǥ‡ŽŽ–Š‡Š‘™›‘—ˆ‡‡ŽǤ‘ǯ–ƪ‘‘† ‹–™‹–Š‘ƥ…‹ƒŽ•–ƒ–‡‡–•Ǥ‡Š—ƒǡ„‡ yourself.” 24

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The MP for Sembawang GRC and Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the ‹‹•–”›‘ˆ ‡ƒŽ–Šƒ† ‘‡ơƒ‹”• advised the audience to distil the essence of the speech into three or four key points and add your take or reaction to it. Content must be curated with the audience in mind – who’s the intended audience and what interests them.

Pictures tell a thousand words Mr Amrin said good photographs never fail. They tell a good story and capture attention and imagination. On negative responses, he advised

activists that there is no need to react to every negative comment. Engage constructively. Keep cool, use humour. Another rule that helps is if you have nothing good to say, it's better to stay silent. Mr Daniel Kwang Wee Teck, a member of the Eunos YP branch and a computer science undergraduate, said that he now understands how social media can serve as an excellent platform for stronger community bonds as well as bonding with the MP. He added: “Social media is a very powerful and convenient tool, if used wisely.”


PAP POLICY FORUM

Transport Minister wants to turn more road spaces to public use Excellent public transport is key to a car-lite Singapore, says Mr Khaw Boon Wan at a PAP Policy Forum dialogue

n Singapore, 12 per cent of land is now being used for roads against 14 per cent of land to house Singapore’s 5.6 million population. Transport Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan said: “This is a heavy allocation of a scarce resource. If we can reclaim some road space for other purposes, for example, for community activities, I think it will enhance Singaporeans’ quality of life. My mission is to try to achieve this hence my championing a car-lite Singapore.” He was speaking to about 150 activists and union leaders at the PAP Policy Forum on the theme “Getting more moving quickly” at the PAP headquarters on July 7, 2018. He explained that making public transport the preferred mode is the most important ingredient to creating a car-lite ‹‰ƒ’‘”‡„‡…ƒ—•‡‹ˆ’‡‘’Ž‡Ƥ†‹–ƒŠƒ••Ž‡ using public transport, they will buy a car, —Ž‡••–Š‡›…ƒǯ–ƒơ‘”†‹–Ǥ DzŠ‡Ƥ”•–Ǧƒ†Žƒ•–Ǧ‹Ž‡…‘‡…–‹‘ is key. The trip to the bus stop or MRT

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station should be safe, comfortable and shaded by trees, preferably. We are not there yet, but getting closer,” he said.

Good transport enhances quality of life He said that transport is an important factor in one’s quality of life. Human beings are naturally social and curious. We like to explore and connect with other people. A convenient transport system

FEASIBILITY OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES Some of the participants had suggested more electric vehicles, and Mr Khaw said that further electrification of vehicles is the trend. But he noted that electric vehicles need to charge their batteries and we must be aware that charging batteries causes pollution too. The Government has issued a tender for 60 electric and 50 hybrid buses, which will allow it to test the use of such vehicles in our tropical weather conditions. Replying to a question about the “littering” problem caused by indiscriminate parking of rental bicycles, Mr Khaw said: “We are aware of the problem in China but decided to go for an initial light touch regulation, so as not to kill off the idea prematurely. Now that we have actual experience of such a problem, we are tightening the regulations. Such operators will need a licence, which comes with strict compliance rules. We have received seven applications for such a licence.”

ƒ‡•ƒŽ‘–‘ˆ†‹ơ‡”‡…‡–‘‘‡ǯ•‘—–Ž‘‘ and way of life. Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, said that transport is also a key enabler for our ‡…‘‘›Ǥ‘”‡‹’‘”–ƒ–Ž›ǡ‹–ƒơ‡…–• every one of us. Hence, it is such a politically sensitive subject. We have been investing heavily in transport, to meet Singaporeans’ rising aspirations and expectations. In this year’s Budget, transport has become the second most expensive ministry after defence. The Government spent $30 billion over the last Ƥ˜‡›‡ƒ”•ƒ†‡š’‡…–•–‘•’‡†–Š‡•ƒ‡ ƒ‘—–‹–Š‡‡š–Ƥ˜‡›‡ƒ”•‘–”ƒ•’‘”–Ǥ As the typical lifespan of an MRT line is 30 years, he said rapidly renewing and upgrading the 30-year-old North-South and East-West MRT lines is necessary. He said SMRT has been ramping up on maintenance, hiring more engineers and technicians, and intensifying preventive ƒ‹–‡ƒ…‡ǤŠ‡‡ơ‘”–•ƒ”‡’”‘†—…‹‰ results. The North-South, East-West and Circle Lines are achieving reliability results that they had not experienced before. And they continue to chalk up better reliability results. •–Š‡•‡‡ơ‘”–•ƒ”‡Ƥƒ…‹ƒŽŽ›‹–‡•‹˜‡ǡ Mr Khaw pointed out that we would have –‘Ƥ†ƒ•—•–ƒ‹ƒ„Ž‡‘†‡Žˆ‘”‹–Ǥ ‡•ƒ‹† the Public Transport Council will have to Ƥ†ƒ‰‘‘†„ƒŽƒ…‡„‡–™‡‡ƒơ‘”†ƒ„‹Ž‹–› and sustainability. As he sees it, reliability ‹•ƒŒ‘‹–‡ơ‘”–ƒ†ˆ—†‹‰Šƒ•–‘„‡ˆƒ‹”Ž› shared among the Government, transport operators and commuters.


BACKBENCHER'S BITE WITH GAN THIAM POH BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

WHO: Gan Thiam Poh, MP for Sengkang South ward of Ang Mo Kio GRC. He entered politics in 2011 when he became MP for Pasir RisPunggol GRC. Currently, he is a member of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council and an adviser to Ang Mo Kio GRC grassroots organisations. Mr Gan is a senior vicepresident at DBS Bank.

Leading by example

WHERE: Coffeeshop at Block 684, Hougang Avenue 8. ON THE MENU: Popiah and kopi-O.

A staunch believer of scientist Albert Einstein’s tenet “Once you stop learning, you start dying”, Mr Gan Thiam Poh walks the talk. He encourages residents of his Sengkang South ward to keep on learning while doing the same himself. Always learning, even from those younger We all have to remain students all our lives. I make it a point to attend courses that are relevant to my job. I also tap on the experiences shared by my residents or seek the advice of my colleagues. To be abreast of and learn more about new technology, socially and at work, I turn to the youths or younger ones, including my two daughters who are adept at it. One is in her third year at university while the other is awaiting admission into varsity. It further creates another opportunity for us to bond, in addition to our weekly family get-together.

My mantra is “People help People”. I believe our residents can play a part in giving back to the community that they live in, regardless of their socioecological background.

“People help People” When I was in secondary school, I took part in sports activities at the community centre. Being involved in CC activities led to the realisation that I could do something to give back to the community. I became a member of various grassroots groups and also began helping at Meet-the-People Sessions. I started the “kepala” programme in our division that aims to match our less fortunate residents with various community projects. They take the lead in looking out for the community, either by looking out for damaged facilities or for our residents through the community café corner. For students who are receiving bursaries and study grants, I also encourage them to tutor the weaker students who are on our tuition schemes. My mantra is “People help People”. I believe our residents can play a part in giving back to the community that they live in, regardless of their socio-ecological background.

Fernvale Square, symbol of community spirit

Backbenchers’ contributions

Following residents’ feedback that there was a shortage of sports facilities in Fernvale estate in our division, I mooted the idea of building sports facilities like basketball, badminton, street soccer courts and a gym on a piece of land located next to the Jalan Kayu Joint Temple, which comprises three Taoist temples and one Thai Buddhist temple. Such a facility will also provide a platform for community bonding and enable residents of all ages, including the youths, to engage in healthy activities. I would like to thank the Jalan Kayu Joint Temple sponsors/donors, members, residents and volunteers for working hard at this project. It is a good example of what can be achieved with a strong community spirit. The sports facilities at Fernvale Square are expected to be ready by end 2018. In addition, in close proximity, there will be a community care hub for seniors and a childcare centre, which will be ready by end 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Backbenchers can and should try to contribute to the formulation of policies. I remember mentioning to our leaders about the importance of appreciating our pioneers for the sacrifices they have made for Singapore. On another occasion, I shared with our leaders about the long waiting times that our elderly residents have to go through at polyclinics, and mooted the idea that they could consult their own private doctors, albeit at polyclinic prices. I am happy that the Pioneer Generation Package and CHAS (Community Health Assist Scheme) launched by the Government have addressed and met the needs and concerns of the residents.

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BACKBENCHER'S BITE WITH ONG TENG KOON

Fighting for the underdog

WHO: Ong Teng Koon, MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. The twoterm MP entered politics during GE2011 and currently works at SP Group. WHERE: Huo Shi Xuan Food House at Blk 354A, Woodlands Avenue 1. ON THE MENU: Fish soup and coconut drink.

Having been involved in businesses where he has seen very qualified people lose their jobs to artificial intelligence and technological advancement, Mr Ong Teng Koon is very passionate about the Government’s efforts at SkillsFuture and lifelong learning to help people reinvent themselves for the new economy.

Helping displaced workers and their families I have seen people who lost their jobs and found it difficult to support their families. Their children get affected due to their families’ financial difficulties and, in rare instances, become marginalised and fall into a vicious cycle where social inequality gets entrenched. I am a big supporter of the higher number and quantum of Ministry of Education’s Edusave awards that have been disbursed over the last few years. Not only does it encourage the students, it also helps to defray their educational expenses and close the inequality gap. We have also set up a Woodgrove bursary to provide additional financial support to students facing hardship. My volunteers and I want to provide all the help that we can muster to displaced workers. We check on these residents regularly to offer encouragement, to help them upskill and get job placements through programmes offered by e2i and WSQ. Often, we write to charities to help them obtain funding to attend courses. In a few instances, my volunteers used their own contacts to help residents find jobs. I often remark to them that they too can find second careers as job consultants.

Soft spot for older folks I just have a soft spot for older folks. Our volunteers make sure that during festive occasions such as Hari Raya, Deepavali and Lunar New Year, the poor and elderly residents have a little bit extra to treat themselves nicely. We organise free celebratory dinners and performances to remind them of the warmth of home and community, and pack New Year goodies to bring some cheer to their lives. This gives me a lot of satisfaction and it is also something that motivates many volunteers to come and serve the community. Kindness is a great quality of the human spirit. As the ancient Greek writer Aesop would say, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

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Be genuine and go the extra mile I empathise with the underdog tremendously. Fighting to better their lot motivates me a great deal. Having watched my father (former MP Ong Ah Heng) work tirelessly over the years in politics, I have learnt that being genuine and going beyond the call of duty to help residents are essential qualities to winning their trust and friendship. Understanding the challenges they face, and marshalling all available resources to help them, one case at a time, are essential to building a long-lasting bond with residents. Being in a privileged position as an MP, I feel it is my duty to utilise the platform to help those who are in need. I recall a case early in my political career that left a deep impression on me. An 87-year-old grandmother needed a flat urgently. Her son had abandoned her and her daughter had committed suicide and left in her care, a special needs granddaughter. She was renting a room with a friend who wanted to sell the flat. At that stage in her life, she just wanted to make sure that her granddaughter had a place to call her own when she passes. I was very touched by the difficulties she was facing and petitioned extensively for her to get a flat at short notice. I remain very thankful to HDB for helping the grandmother in her time of need and demonstrating that this is a compassionate government.

“Being in a privileged position as an MP, I feel it is my duty to utilise the platform to help those who are in need.”


Appreciating our Merdeka Generation  
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