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MCYS SPEECH NO: 12/2007 DATE OF ISSUE: 08/03/2007

Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts at the Committee of Supply Sitting 2007, 8 March 2007, 3.50 pm

Introduction

1. Sir, the primary focus of my Ministry’s mission is to

ensure that our society remains united, cohesive and

resilient as we face the full impact of globalisation.

Consequently, in 2006, we paid special attention to

those who are most vulnerable, i.e. the families of low-

income Singaporeans, senior citizens and persons with

disability. In the interest of brevity, I would like to refer

members to the handout (Annex 1) summarising the key

initiatives and projects undertaken by MCYS last year. I

hope

it

shows

that

we

have

delivered

on

all

our

commitments made during last year’s COS debate.

MCYS Key Initiatives in 2006

Helping the Low-income and Needy

2. My Ministry is guided by four basic principles of

social

assistance.

First,

we

must

never

have

a

permanent, unconditional, needs-based social safety net.

Such a system will erode our work ethic and bankrupt us

in the long run. Second, our social assistance packages

have very few entitlements. Instead, we emphasise a

sense of mutual obligation, role of the family and self

reliance. Third, we must pay special attention on our

children because they are our future. Fourth, work

remains the best form of social security. That’s why we

empower people to take charge of their lives, enabling

them to fish in the sea of opportunities rather than

merely providing them with stale fish.

3. Mr Sin Boon Ann has quite rightly focused on the

outcomes of ComCare. For FY2006, the ComCare Fund

expects to disburse about $43 million to help some

64,000 needy cases. It serves three distinct groups of

people.

4. Firstly, under ComCare Self-Reliance, my Ministry

launched the Work Support programme in July 2006 to

help needy Singaporeans find employment. Since then,

more

than

4,400

families have

received

assistance

under this scheme. One in two job-seekers finds work

within six months of being on the programme. The

scheme has also helped them increase their monthly

income by about $560 on average.

5. Next, under ComCare Grow, we enhanced the

kindergarten and childcare financial assistance schemes

in July 2006 to encourage low-income families to send

their children to pre-school. These programmes have

helped more than 15,000 children each year to attend

pre-school. Some 95% of children of kindergarten age

now attend pre-school. MCYS is working closely with

MOE to ensure that the number of children not attending

pre-school will be halved over the next five years.

6. Finally, under ComCare Enable, the number of

households on Public Assistance has remained stable at

about 3,000 for the past five years. My index of success

will be to keep this number as small as possible.

7.

Mr

qualifying

Sam

Tan

criteria

has

asked

about

the

stringent

for

the

Home

Ownership

Plus

Education (HOPE) Scheme. We liberalised the criteria in

April 2006 to include those who despite having post-

secondary

qualifications,

continue

to

have

poor

employment prospects. An Appeals Committee chaired

by Minister of State Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon was also

set up to consider families who marginally miss the

HOPE criteria. After saying this, we cannot change the

focus of this scheme. HOPE is an incentive scheme, not

an

assistance

scheme.

So

while

we

can

exercise

flexibility, we cannot go too far, such as the criteria to

stop at two kids.

8.

In

August

2006,

we

appointed

five

Voluntary

Welfare

Organisations

(VWOs)

and

the

Self-Help

Groups to reach out more effectively to eligible families.

For FY2006, we expect to see about 230 families sign

up for HOPE. Under HOPE, each family can receive up

to $100,000 in benefits. We expect to pay out about $9

million in HOPE benefits for FY2006, reflecting the

Government’s commitment to the scheme. At the end of

2006, we have 706 beneficiary families. As such, we do

not think that it is necessary to revise the HOPE criteria

at this juncture.

Empowering and Integrating Seniors

9.

To date, 32 of the 39 recommendations proposed

by

the

Committee

on

Ageing

Issues

have

been

implemented by various government agencies, while the

remaining seven recommendations are being studied

seriously by agencies with the view of implementing

them.

Building a Robust Charity Sector

10.

In response to Mr Zaqy Mohamad and Mr Baey

Yam Keng’s concerns, I wish to highlight the transfer of

the

Commissioner

of

Charities

(COC)

to

MCYS

in

September 2006 the amendment of the Charities Act to

strengthen the Commissioner’s regulatory oversight of

the charity sector. Yes, these measures are a reaction

to an unpleasant situation. But as the Government also

provides funding to charities and VWOs, we share the

responsibility in ensuring they have good governance. In

the end, our key objective is to restore public confidence

and trust in this sector.

11.

Nonetheless,

the

Government’s

regulatory

approach is not “one-size-fits-all”. Large Institutions of a

Public Character (IPCs) and charities that raise funds

from the public are subject to more stringent rules and

accountability. Smaller charities that do not conduct

public

fund-raising

have

a

less

onerous

regulatory

regime. However, as Ms Denise Phua has mentioned,

all the regulations in the world would not prevent abuse

and there is still a need for strong board members to

ensure proper accountability and governance. Hence I

ask Members not to pre-judge the new rules as being

too onerous and give them some time to work.

12. The removal of the 80/20 spending rule, which also

applies to foundations set up by companies, will give

charities greater flexibility in managing their funds. Mr

Zaqy

Mohamad

has

charities

may

lose

expressed

concern

out

to

international

that

local

charities.

However, we believe that our local charities will become

more sophisticated and professional. Ultimately, donors

would want to know where their money goes, especially

if it is going to overseas causes. In any case, we expect

the charity pie to grow overall and benefit all of us in the

end.

Strategic Trends

Income Inequality

13. Let us now consider the strategic trends that set

the context for my Ministry’s work in the future. First,

globalisation. While globalisation has enabled Singapore

to progress and prosper, the key challenge will be the

widening income gap among Singaporeans.

14. As Singapore is an open economy, we cannot

avoid the impact of globalisation.

But we must ensure

that increasing number of Singaporeans do NOT feel

unfairly and permanently left out of the party.

15. Consequently, we have now made Workfare a key

pillar of our social safety net. We will provide more

assistance for the needy to cope with higher cost of

living. We will invest more in their children to enable

them to break out of poverty.

Demographics

16.

Second,

demographics.

We

are

an

ageing

population compounded by a low total fertility rate of

1.25. The proportion of seniors in our population will

increase from about 10% in 2006 to 19% in 2030.

It is

projected that we will have more than 800,000 seniors in

2030. Since we are all politicians, let me give you a

sense of the size of this significant electorate group. It is

about five to eight times the size of a GRC. This is a

constituency we have to be mindful of.

17.

However, we must not view the old merely as an

electorate group or a burden to society. In fact, they will

be

a

significant

consumer

group

and

part

of

the

workforce, driving demand for new lifestyle products and

services. Minister Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of the

Ministerial

Committee

on

Ageing,

will

outline

the

strategic thrusts where seniors are an integral part of

our families, society and the economy.

Racial and Religious Harmony

18.

Third,

racial

and

religious

harmony.

Terrorism

continues

to

be

a

potential

threat

to

Singapore.

Camouflaged under religious extremism, it seeks to

undermine relations between different communities. A

terrorist incident in Singapore will put great strain on our

social cohesion. Yes, sometimes trying to increase the

interaction

between

the

communities

can

be

quite

contrived, but better to be contrived and build up trust

than to scramble in the morning following a terrorist

incident.

Community Participation

19.

Fourth,

community

participation.

More

Singaporeans are stepping forward to donate time and

money to worthy causes. Here I do not fully agree with

Ms Denise Phua regarding the state of volunteerism in

Singapore. My own feel is that increasingly, people do

want to step forward and do something, and they are

willing to speak up on issues. Hence what is needed is

to open up more space and opportunities for people to

participate within the community.

Key Initiatives for 2007

20.

Let me now look forward. I refer to Annex 2, which

lists the key initiatives in the year ahead.

21.

In the last few years, the Government has been

steadily increasing its social expenditure. This latest

budget, with the GST increase and social transfers,

injects even more resources. Frankly, some of you have

come to me and said, 'We want to ask for more money

for MCYS'. Frankly, I'm not in the mood to ask for more

money. My focus will not be on how much more money

we will get to spend, but more on how we spend it. I told

my staff we

should be more concerned on how to

organise ourselves and how to deliver social assistance

more effectively.

Uplifting the Low-income and Needy

22. ComCare Fund programmes will be increased by

$6 million annually. The Government will also set aside

an additional $10 million over the next five years for the

Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs), VWOs and

Self-Help Groups to help families cope with the GST

increase.

23. We

will

increase

the

subsidies for low-income

families to send their children to kindergarten, childcare

and

student

care.

The

Kindergarten

Financial

Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) subsidy will be raised from

75% of kindergarten fees to 90%. The average subsidy

for each child will be increased to about $80 a month.

This means that for many families, they would pay only

about $10 to send their child to kindergarten. Money will

not be a limiting factor for children from low-income

families at pre-school age. 10,700 children will benefit

from this scheme annually. The Centre-Based Financial

Assistance Scheme for Childcare (CFAC) will also be

enhanced by up to $40 a month for each child. This will

benefit about 5,200 children annually.

24. Dr Lily Neo, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Ms Eunice

Olsen will be pleased to know that Public Assistance

(PA) rates will also be adjusted to help the needy with

the GST increase and higher costs of living. With effect

from July 2007, PA recipients can expect an increase of

between $30 and $115 a month depending on their

household type. Let me give a few examples. An elderly

recipient living alone will see his assistance increase by

12% from $260 a month to $290 a month. A recipient

family with three school-going children will see their

assistance increase by 14% from $825 a month to $940

a month. On top of this, PA recipients also have access

to free medical care and financial assistance for their

children’s education.

25. We can debate if these sums are too much or too

little. But the point is that there must be a substantial

difference in the money received by PA recipients and

working adults receiving Workfare. Here, I disagree with

Mr Seah Kian Peng’s argument that since the size of

PA recipients is only 3,000, we can be more generous.

Yes, we

can afford to

be more generous. But the

greatest

danger

there

is

that

you

take

away

the

incentive of the much larger number of Singaporeans

who are working hard, albeit in low-paying jobs. So

there will have to be a difference.

26.

MCYS will also top up the CCC ComCare Fund by

$5 million over the next five years to give grassroots

leaders

more

resources

to

help

needy

residents

requiring

urgent,

temporary

assistance.

This

should

address Mr Ang Mong Seng’s concern. As Dr Lily Neo

can attest to, constituencies with more

elderly can

request for more funds from MCYS. We will also provide

Self-Help Groups a $2 million grant over the next five

years so that they can assist families to cope with the

GST increase. Finally, as the GST increase will have an

impact on the operating cost of VWOs, my Ministry will

also commit an additional $3 million over the next five

years to government-funded VWO programmes.

27. With

the

GST

offset

package,

ComCare

Fund

spending is expected to rise from $43 million in FY2006

to $67 million in FY2007. Members would agree that this

is a significant increase in spending in one year. On top

of this, MCYS is expected to spend an additional $53

million on other social services in FY2006. All in, my

Ministry is projected to spend about $96 million on social

assistance to the low-income and needy in FY2006. We

expect this to increase to about $140 million in FY2007.

28. While help is available, we should focus on the way

we deliver social assistance to those who need help. But

there are some who are unable or unwilling to come

forward to request assistance. However, in seeking to

help

these

people,

we

should

be

mindful

not

to

inadvertently destroy their self-esteem and spirit of self-

reliance.

29. For example, last November, Mdm Lim Huai Mei,

wrote to ZaoBao to explain how she managed after she

was widowed with two young children. Through her own

efforts and support from her friends, community and

church, she

upgraded

her skills,

found

a

job

as

a

childcare teacher, and was able to put both children

through school. She went on to say:

人要活得自在、有自信、有自尊,应该是求而非求

;求人不如求己、寻求资助不如自助;在讲究之前

应该先学会将就””

(To live life freely with self-confidence and self-respect,

we must learn to fish instead of asking for fish. Rather

than rely on others for help, we should help ourselves.

Instead of fretting, we should learn to adapt.)

30.

I feel that Mdm Lim’s spirit and determination is

most admirable. We should not undermine the spirit of

people like her. We should encourage and support them

in their quest to be self-reliant.

31.

There

are

also

those

who

genuinely

need

assistance

but

don’t

know

how

to

seek

help.

For

example, Ms Tan Sai Siong, in a New Year email to PM,

related the following:

“I have in mind a small group of people in Singapore who are at

the bottom of the bottom-most, not because there aren't safety

nets for people like them -- there are aplenty-- but because of

the way they are wired, they are just unable to understand what

is available, what is for their own good to accept and then

continue to suffer the saddest deprivation in the midst of plenty

when it is all so unnecessary. This group to date falls out of all

the good Government intentions and facilities such as Workfare.

And I think it won't do for those like me who know about their

plight to shrug our shoulders and say, "well, if they won't accept

public help, what to do?"

I know of a handful of such cases, one of which was the subject

of a longish exchange between Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and me a

couple of years ago. Although Dr Bala was most kind and MCYS

was most helpful, the man in question had two sisters who

undertook to look after him, which they failed to fulfill. It also

didn't help that the man himself though of unsound mind (he was

an ex-IMH patient) was allowed to decide he didn't want to

attend day care. In the end, he died of malnutrition and neglect,

alone, in his one-room rental flat in Blk 33 Bendemeer Road --

and would have been undiscovered if I didn't alert MCYS to his

disappearance. What struck me as so ironic in this case, apart

from everything else, was that the Govt had just spent tens of

thousands upgrading his flat -- changing doors, windows, grills,

floorings, bathroom fixtures, wall tiles and even switches that

were embedded into the walls, making it an abode that I would

have been glad to call home, even if I didn't fall on hard times.”

32.

Recently, Sai Siong alerted me via email about

another case:

“He

is

an old man called

Ah

Beng (no kidding!) who tries

(without much success) to hawk souvenirs made out of used

drink cans. He stands outside the old Nafa (Nanyang Academny

of Fine Arts) building (also the old St Anthony School) -- at the

junction between Middle Road n Victoria Street and diagonally

opposite the multimillion $ National Library. He can be found

daily till abt 3 or 4pm.This old man looks emaciated and has

been growing thinner and thinner, since I first spotted him about

two years ago.

One can

buy his wares (I don't becos I'm

squeamish as I've seen him digging into rubbish bins to get his

"raw material"), spare him some money for a meal (I do, it's the

easiest thing to do) or buy him some food. The harder thing is

persuade him to get some long term community help, mostly

because he's stone deaf and maybe not all there, (due to a lack

of proper nutrition?) I got one of the Breadline volunteers to

speak to him but apparently he turned down any offer of help.

He probably needs more persuasion or other type of support. I

gather from him that he's all alone in the world and from his very

grubby appearance, no doubt lives rough or in some horror

accommodation that sometimes makes the news for all the

wrong reasons.”

33. Later she emailed me:

“I am writing to express my appreciation and thanks for the care

and support that's been extended to Ah Beng. I received the

good news from one of your officers on Friday. The Central CDC

has applied for a 1-room HDB rental flat for Ah Beng and

supplementary

financial

help

from

the

Breadline

Group.

In

addition, CDC has requested the Singapore Association for the

Deaf

to

consider

him

for

befriending

services

sponsorship of hearing aids.”

as

well

as

34.

Indeed for Ah Beng and the old people pushing

carts on the streets, how should we respond to them?

Do we pity them, take them to Pelangi Home to be fed

and

sheltered?

Or

do

we

admire

them

for

their

independence and resilience and leave them alone? I

think both extremes are not quite right; our response

should be somewhere in between. We need public

spirited individuals and organisations like Sai Siong and

Breadline, and responsible civil servants who responded

to Sai Siong’s email. All it took was one email to ensure

that Ah Beng got connected to the appropriate people.

We need a whole-of-society response to help these

people, not a whole army of bureaucratic civil servants.

Organising the Social Sector

35.

We can do more to organise the ground network.

The

ComCare

Local

Networks

serve

as

common

platforms for Community Development Centres (CDCs),

VWOs, grassroots and other social organisations within

the same locality to provide integrated help to needy

families. My Ministry and NVPC have launched the

ComCare Connection to match VWOs with corporate

organisations and create meaningful partnerships.

36. I agree with Mr Wee Siew Kim that there is much

scope for professionals to volunteer their specialised

expertise

to

VWOs.

NVPC

has

a

well-established

platform

called

eMatch

for

interested

individuals

to

discover where their services are needed. For example,

NVPC has facilitated lawyers, doctors and nurses to

contribute their expertise to assist the community here

and abroad in different projects. Minister of State Mrs

Yu-Foo Yee Shoon will elaborate later in her speech.

Elevating Professionalism of the Social Sector

37. On Social Workers’ Day this year, I announced a

$1 million Social Work Professionalisation Package for

social workers. This package aims to maintain a high

standard of social work by offering opportunities for

professional growth and learning.

38. In addition, the funding norms for VWOs have been

revised upwards to the tune of an additional $11 million

yearly to meet rising costs and enhance service delivery.

I hope this addresses Ms Denise Phua’s and Mr Zaqy

Mohamad’s concerns. I expect the VWOs to implement

appropriate upward salary adjustments to recognise the

efforts of social workers and other staff. Overall, these

initiatives will help the sector stay competitive, so that it

can attract and retain good people.

Improving Governance in Charities and Co-ops

39.

Ms

Denise

Phua

has

asked

how

the

Commissioner of Charities can help the charities. We

will budget $45 million over the next 5 years to support

training, consultancy and IT in order to build up the

management and operational capacities of our charities

and VWOs. This will be called the VWOs-Charities

Capability Fund.

40.

MCYS

is

also

reviewing

the

regulation

of

co-

operative societies. Our objective is to bring the co-ops’

level

of

accountability

in

line

with

the

higher

expectations of their stakeholders. Co-ops are business

entities with social purposes, regulated through the Co-

operative Societies Act – legislation largely unchanged

since

1979.

Many

co-ops

have

grown

their

memberships

significantly.

Hence,

the

implicit

peer

accountability of members in small groups watching out

for one another can no longer be assumed.

41.

Industry

consultations

on

the

proposed

co-op

legislative changes are ongoing. MCYS will also consult

the

public

before

tabling

the

Bill

to

update

co-op

legislation to Parliament later in 2007. These changes

will

result

in

higher

standards

accounting and governance.

of

co-op

disclosure,

Preparing for a Society with more Seniors

42.

Earlier

I

spoke

about

the

need

to

prepare

Singapore for an ageing population. I agree with Miss

Ellen

Lee

that

our

seniors,

especially

those

with

dementia,

deserve

better

legal

protection.

As

Dr

Fateema Lateef observed yesterday, more people are

likely to suffer from dementia in the future. Hence my

Ministry

is

currently

considering

legislation

that

will

provide a legal framework for individuals to voluntarily

make advance plans should they lose their mental

capacity in the future. We have tentatively called it the

Mental Capacity Act.

43.

Currently,

under

the

Mental

Disorders

and

Treatment Act, the High Court can appoint a Committee

of Persons or Estate to handle the personal or property

matters of persons who have lost their mental capacity.

However, this appointment can be done only after the

person has lost his mental capacity. In contrast, the

MCA

will

allow

individuals

to

appoint,

in

advance,

trusted relatives or friends to make decisions for their

financial and personal welfare if they later lose their

mental capacity.

44.

This legislation therefore allows Singaporeans to

make advance plans for their well-being before they are

struck by dementia or other mentally incapacitating

illnesses. It will also cater to parents of the disabled with

severe

intellectually

impairment.

Before

the

parents

pass on, they may want to appoint a donee for their

intellectually disabled dependents.

45.

As this is a significant piece of legislation, we will

conduct extensive stakeholder and public consultation

and study the experience of other countries to ensure

we have an opt-in system that protects and safeguards

the interests of the mentally incapacitated. The draft Bill

is expected to be ready by May 2007, and stakeholder

and

public

thereafter.

consultation

is

expected

to

commence

Greater Inclusiveness for Persons with Disability

46.

I

will

now

move

on

the

disability

sector.

I

understand Ms Denise Phua is quite happy with MOE’s

initiatives to provide for students with special needs. I

will now address other aspects.

47. One of the key recommendations of the Enabling

Masterplan was to set up an office on disability.

As

announced by DPM Wong in Parliament on 12 February

2007, a new Standing Committee on Disability will be

set

up

to

Permanent

address this. It would

be chaired by the

Secretary

for

Community

Development,

Youth and Sports. The Standing Committee will also

include

representatives

from

NCSS,

VWO

representatives, employers and other stakeholders.

48. The Enabling Masterplan Committee took a life

stage approach in analysing the needs of the disabled.

Minister of State for Education Mr Gan Kim Yong has

already outlined the steps

to

be

taken by MOE

in

response to education for the disabled. Let me cover the

other life stages.

49. The capacity of our early intervention services is

growing. My Ministry is working with the VWOs to start

two new early intervention centres by mid-2007. This

should raise capacity from the current 700-odd places to

1,250 by end of the year. I don’t want capacity to be a

limiting

factor.

In

addition,

MCYS

and

NCSS

have

worked with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to start a new

advanced diploma course to train early intervention

teachers. This will help to increase the supply of and

enhance the skills of teachers.

50.

The

recommended

Enabling

Masterplan

that

employment

of

Committee

persons

with

disability should be based on business rather than just

charity

considerations.

They

suggested

various

initiatives

to

enhance

employment

of

persons

with

disability. My Ministry accepts these recommendations

and will work with MOM, WDA and other agencies to

implement these initiatives.

51. With effect from May 2007, the Enable Fund will be

renamed as the “Open Door Fund” to help companies

redesign

their

workplaces

or

jobs

for

persons

with

disability. Companies can qualify for the Fund as long as

they meet the minimum number of four persons with

disability

based

on

existing

and

new

disabled

employees. The Open Door Fund will also be open to

companies

with

outsourced

jobs.

Furthermore,

an

Employers’

Network,

comprising

employers

who

champion the employment of persons with disability, will

be launched. This Network will be chaired by Mr David

Wong, Managing Director and Chief Executive, South-

East Asia, ABN AMRO Bank.

52. MCYS

is

also

working

on

three

employment

initiatives that the Enabling Masterplan Committee has

proposed in its report.

First, we are in discussion with

the Standards and Productivity Board of Singapore

(SPRING) to set up a food manufacturing training centre

for persons with disability.

53. Second,

my

Ministry

is

also

working

with

the

Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Society

for

the

Physically

Disabled

on

the

Infocomm

Accessibility Centre (IA Centre), which aims to equip

persons with disability with the necessary IT skills for

jobs in the IT industry. MCYS has committed $2 million

to fund the apprenticeship component of the IA centre.

54.

Third,

we

are

also

in

discussion

with

NTUC

Learning

Hub

and

relevant

agencies

to

look

into

providing

vocational

training

curricula

in

special

education schools, so that children with special needs

are trained in specific skill sets while at school. This will

be followed by examining the possibilities for direct job

placement

opportunities

under

NTUC’s

existing

job-

seeker

programmes,

such

as

the

Place

and

Train

programmes. I hope these measures will go some way

to address the concerns of Ms Denise Phua and Dr

Teo Ho Pin.

55. Dr

Lam Pin

Min

has asked if my Ministry

is

considering a caregivers’ allowance for those looking

after disabled and senior family members. I’m afraid we

will have to disappoint him. The important question we

should consider if whether caregiving out of filial piety or

family

obligation

should

be

paid,

as

opposed

to

providing assistance to families to help them make

informed decisions on which family member should work.

The latter is our current approach.

56. There are various tax reliefs and financial support

for families with disabled and senior members who need

full-time

caregiving.

These

measures

include

aged

parent and grandparent relief, handicapped spouse tax

relief

and

handicapped

siblings

relief.

The

Foreign

Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy Concession is also given

to households with a senior aged 65 years and above.

57.

As a response to the Enabling Masterplan report,

the

Government

will

extend

the

$95

FDW

Levy

concession to persons with disability. The concession

will apply to disabled Singapore citizens who cannot

perform one or more of the basic activities of daily living

independently and hence need a full-time caregiver.

These basic activities of daily living are washing, bathing,

toileting,

feeding,

transferring,

and

moving

around.

Eligible families will save $3,420 over a three-year

period from this initiative and it is estimated to cost the

Government $16 million in revenue forgone each year.

This levy concession of $95 is on top of the $30 levy

reduction that all families with FDW will enjoy. So when

the

concession

scheme

for

persons

with

disability

becomes operational in November, instead of paying

$295 for the FDW levy, they would only pay $170.

58. So

there

will

be

significant

help

rendered

to

persons with disability and their families. The caregiver’s

allowance will simply become a form of deadweight

spending as it will have to be applied across the board.

This may help many people but those who most needed

the assistance may not get it.

59. I understand the concerns of parents over the long-

term financial security of their disabled children. Earlier

in

January,

we

announced

the

establishment

of

a

taskforce to set up a one-stop umbrella body to enhance

the financial security of persons with disability. The

taskforce is chaired by Ms Christine Ong, Managing

Director and Country Head of UBS AG, Singapore.

Members of the taskforce bring with them the leadership,

passion

and

knowledge

to

relevant

help

financial,

legal

and

corporate

the

disabled

community.

The

Government will work closely with the taskforce to help

the one-stop umbrella body begin operations in the

second half of the year.

Youth and Sports

60.

I will leave Parliamentary Secretary Mr Teo Ser

Luck to elaborate later on MCYS’s youth and sports

initiatives

for

the coming year. However, I wish

to

provide a short update on the Sports Hub. We are very

pleased to have received excellent bids from three

world-class

consortia.

Due

to

intellectual

property

issues, I am not at liberty to reveal the details of the bids

received

but

I

can

assure

Members

that

they

are

spectacular designs. I am sure that when the Sports

Hub

is

ready,

it

would

be

development

hosting

sports,

cultural activities.

a

major

business,

infrastructural

social,

and