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Alleviate further the burden of the Pioneer Generation

Alleviate further the burden of the Pioneer Generation

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Published by Ravi Philemon
In a media release responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally Speech, National Solidarity Party expressed that it is heartened by the strategic shift of the government, in response to the voice of the people, academics and the opposition parties.

Among other measures, the Party asks the Government to do more for the Pioneer Generation of Singapore, and consider implementing an inflation-indexed retirement allowance for these who have worked hard to build this nation.
In a media release responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally Speech, National Solidarity Party expressed that it is heartened by the strategic shift of the government, in response to the voice of the people, academics and the opposition parties.

Among other measures, the Party asks the Government to do more for the Pioneer Generation of Singapore, and consider implementing an inflation-indexed retirement allowance for these who have worked hard to build this nation.

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Published by: Ravi Philemon on Aug 22, 2013
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03/26/2014

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Alleviate further the burden of the Pioneer GenerationIn a media release responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong'sNational Day Rally Speech, National Solidarity Party expressed that it isheartened by the strategic shift of the government, in response to thevoice of the people, academics and the opposition parties.Among other measures, the Party asks the Government to do more forthe Pioneer Generation of Singapore, and consider implementing aninflation-indexed retirement allowance for these who have worked hardto build this nation.The following is the full text of NSP's media release.
 
Acknowledgement
The National Solidarity Party is deeply heartened by the strategic shift presented by thegovernment in the recent National Day Rally message. Many of the policy directions putforth in the message addressed concerns pertaining to bread and butter issues that havebeen on the minds of Singaporeans for several years. It is encouraging to note that thevoices of the people and the viewpoints put forth by academics and the oppositionparties have not been made in vain.While the measures announced are moving in the right direction, the National SolidarityParty would also like to recall earlier alternative recommendations proposed in recentyears, which we believe would also help serve the greater needs and interests ofSingaporeans.
Healthcare
We thank the government for heeding the call made by the National Solidarity Party’sNCMP representative Steve Chia in Parliament in 2004: to recognize the nation-buildingefforts and alleviate the burden of burgeoning healthcare costs of the PioneerGeneration. This is a generation of Singaporeans who have played a critical role in theearly days of modern Singapore. It is thus right that they should be taken care of in theirtwilight years.While the measures announced is encouraging, especially for eldercare and lowerincome groups, we encourage the focus to be drawn to the sandwiched class – specifically, Singaporeans who face the burden of supporting both their children andparents.The National Solidarity Party’s 2011 General Election manifesto earlier made therecommendation to propose a Comprehensive Medical Insurance scheme, which willentail:- Coverage to include hospitalization and outpatient treatments at private orrestructured hospitals, polyclinics and affiliated private clinics.- Coverage of all pre-existing medical conditions of children
 
- Mandatory coverage with government contributing at least 20% of payablepremiums, with full undertaking of premiums for citizens under public assistance- Coverage of all approved hospitalization treatments with predetermined costing,but excluding rental of hospital beds to discourage extended or unnecessarystays- Coverage of medicine costs based on pre-determined drug list- Encouraging the use of generic drugs which are comparatively economicalApart from the above CMI proposal, the NSP would like to urge the government toconsider the implementation of an inflation-indexed retirement allowance for the PioneerGeneration who has worked hard to build this nation.Indeed, Singapore may learn from Hong Kong's Old Age Living Allowance scheme forold people who are aged above 65 years. Similarly, the Economic Society of Singaporealso supports establishing a targeted, basic, inflation-indexed retirement allowance. Wecan expect our government to do more for our pioneer generation, especially for thosewith little to no CPF savings. It is the duty of the government to help them cope withSingapore’s burgeoning standards of living.
Education
The National Solidarity Party agrees with the mandate to “teach less, learn more”.The announced changes to the PSLE bring welcome change in the form of reducedemphasis on numerical scores.However, it has not been explained how secondary school admissions will beimplemented with the wider scoring band. The expansion of the Direct SchoolAdmissions scheme may also cause additional pressure for students to build extra-curricular portfolios in order to gain admission.Additionally, it is crucial to steer learning attitudes towards the value of learning throughprocesses and failures, than getting clear-cut answers through rote learning. Theresilience of a workforce in an ideas-driven global economy will depend less on technicalcompetencies, and more on the ability to solve problems in a creative and proactivefashion. We need to encourage a stronger growth mindset. Otherwise, we will continueto foster a workforce reliant on foreign companies for jobs instead of building domestic,homegrown job opportunities.We also highlight the need for a streamlining of the operational procedures of the wayschools are currently run. With only anecdotal evidence of how teachers suffer burnoutand are subjected to alphabetical grading systems as well as high turnover rates, it is notpossible for us to ascertain the extent of how the ministry intends to lessen the workloadof teachers, and subsequently, to fill the gaping demand for this profession.We urge the ministry to consider a fundamental shift in the professional scope ofteachers, rather than to alleviate workloads through symptomatic tactics such as theintroduction of co-form teachers.
 
Public Infrastructure
The announcement of building more infrastructure is welcome. However, it is only onefacet of many other factors which contribute to quality of life.There has been no mention made of the 6.9 million target population espoused in theWhite Paper earlier this year. The blueprint addressing how we intend to address thisinevitable population crunch via housing supply, road networks, and public transportationnetworks, have not been addressed fully.
Social spending
It is encouraging to note that the government has done much for the lowest percentile ofthe needy in Singapore. However, as our Gini co-efficient rises and social inequalitybecomes a pressing issue worldwide, it is imperative for Singapore to take the lead inlessening this inequality and creating a successful case for other countries to emulate,as they have with our economic success story.This can be approached two ways. First, Singapore has earlier espoused a SwissStandard of living promised to Singaporeans in the early 1990s. It is now time for us todefine what a Singapore Standard of living should be. The government needs to lookinto re-defining a poverty line that is unique to Singapore, to ensure that no citizen will beleft behind as our country becomes richer in its pursuit of economic growth.Secondly, more can be allocated to social expenditure.NSP's budget 2013 response earlier raised this issue, citing that developmentexpenditure versus operating expenditure has been dropping. While the population hasgrown by 45% from 1996–2012, development expenditure has only increased by 34%.We call on the government to adjust the development budget to invest even further insocial spending and public infrastructure such as housing, healthcare and transportation.We strongly believe that the government can afford to spend more on its people, and itcan most definitely afford to do so without falling into the welfare trap.
Politics and Civil Society
Politics has to be done right in Singapore, otherwise we will not be a fully functioningdemocracy in which people are empowered to make a stand on issues that affect them.Unfortunately, unsavoury tactics such as gerrymandering, the ruling’s party ties with thePeople’s Association and other legislations such as the Political Donations Act, the MDALicensing Scheme and the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, the Defamation Act,et al., prove that the ruling party continues to maintain an iron fist and comparativepolitical advantage over any other entrants from parties of other affiliations.Separately, while it is encouraging that the government wishes to see more activecitizenry and has thus initiated a Youth Corps, it must be acknowledged that we do notneed another institutionalized system to encourage a concept as organic as bottom-up

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