National Day Rally 2013

I attended the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally 2013 at the ITE College Central campus last night. Many of the initiatives announced were ones that I could agree with and support — not least because some were what my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party (WP) had been calling for in recent years.

Overall, the changes made to hot-button issues of healthcare, education and housing appear promising, albeit incremental. I am glad to see that the Government is now showing a willingness to take on more of the risks and responsibilities that are rightly theirs — for example, a greater share of the healthcare burden — rather than continuing to transfer risks to individual Singaporeans and their households, as has been the trend for the previous decade or so.

I attended the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally 2013 at the ITE College Central campus last night. Many of the initiatives announced were ones that I could agree with and support — not least because some were what my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party (WP) had been calling for in recent years.

In WP’s National Day Statement two years ago, titled “Honouring our First Generation”, we said:

The men and women in our pioneer generation have borne society’s burdens for the past 46 years and more. They gave the best years of their lives to our nation. Our nation must now give its best in return to them. Even as we strive for progress and economic efficiency, our nation has an obligation to help this generation of Singaporeans live their latter years in dignity, comfort and fulfilment; free from worry and fear for lack of provision.

In last night’s speech, the Straits Times reported:

(PM Lee) specifically singled out a group he called Singapore’s pioneer generation, whom he said had worked hard to build today’s Singapore…

These people, in their late 60s and above, and now mostly retired, said Mr Lee, and had “paved the way for us to live a better life than themselves”, and “had fewer safety nets”.

“We must take special care of this pioneer generation in their golden years,” he said.

During my maiden speech in Parliament in October 2011, I said:

…whether in healthcare, public housing or public transport, the Government has gone too far down the road of pursuing free market efficiency, often to the detriment of the elderly and low wage workers.

At a time when our citizens are exposed to heightened risks in the form of global competition, increased economic volatility, rising inequality and wage stagnation, the Government is exposing them to even more competition from foreigners. Our workers are told to be “cheaper, better, faster”, more self-reliant and less selective about their jobs.

This regressive transfer of risks from government to citizens must count as one of the PAP Government’s biggest policy failures in the last decade.

The demographic, social and economic changes of the 21st century demand a rethink of how much a government should provide for its people, and how much we can reasonably ask our citizens to provide for themselves.

PM Lee said in his speech:

…we must make a strategic shift in our approach to nation building. Individuals must still do their best, but the Community and Government must do more to reduce the pressures on individuals.

In my Budget Debate speech in Parliament in 2012, I had said:

Extending the maximum MediShield coverage age from 85 to 90 years old is a move in the right direction. However, would the Government consider removing the age limit completely? There are only about 9,000 Singaporeans aged above 90. Many of them would have outlived their own spouses, siblings or children, and may have no immediate relatives to care for them.

We should be doing all we can to help this small group of seniors who have worked tirelessly to build up Singapore to what it is today, instead of pulling the rug from under their feet when they need it the most.

PM said in his Rally speech:

Catastrophic illness insurance scheme MediShield is set for an overhaul. It will be “revamped” as MediShield Life, with its age ceiling of 90 years removed to provide lifelong coverage for all Singaporeans

During the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament in March 2012, I said:

…some of those who need MediShield coverage the most, like babies with congenital problems and the very old, are often denied coverage.

MediShield currently covers 92% of Singaporeans. Those who are not covered include some of the elderly, homemakers, and others who have voluntarily opted out of MediShield. Some are not able to obtain MediShield coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

I would like to ask what the Ministry is doing to achieve a higher level of coverage for all Singaporeans? What is the Ministry’s targeted level of coverage of MediShield?

And the answer came during last night’s speech:

Elaborating on the changes, (PM Lee) said that universal coverage means there will be no more opting out, with everyone covered including the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses.

Again on MediShield, I said during my Parliamentary speech in 2011:

If we are to achieve this goal (of universal health coverage), we need to expand the coverage of MediShield and reduce the over-reliance on direct payments by patients at the time they need the care. To fund this, we need to strengthen the current forms of prepayment and risk-pooling, and provide assistance to those who cannot afford the premiums, like housewives and the elderly. All this points to a need to perform some major surgery on MediShield.

And as announced last night:

But with better benefits and coverage, this will mean that premiums will go up, he said. “(It) has to be because it has to break even,” he said, but added that the Government will subsidise premiums for those who cannot afford them.

There were several other ideas that my other colleagues Lee Li Lian and Muhamad Faisal Manap had been calling for, including expanding the use of Medisave and allowing madrasah students to tap their Edusave accounts, which were taken up by the PM last night.

Overall, the changes made to hot-button issues of healthcare, education and housing appear promising, albeit incremental. I am glad to see that the Government is now showing a willingness to take on more of the risks and responsibilities that are rightly theirs — for example, a greater share of the healthcare burden — rather than continuing to transfer risks to individual Singaporeans and their households, as has been the trend for the previous decade or so.

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15 thoughts on “National Day Rally 2013”

  1. Your brilliant proposals are now going to be implemented by government. Thanks for all of you the efforts. May I wish Worker party become stronger and stronger.

  2. Gerald Giam wasted no time in trying to claim credit for the policy changes announced at the NDR.

    But he conveniently forgets that

    a. WP can hardly claim to be the originator of the ideas. Laymen have raised these at various forums (eg, OSC) or other channels both online and off (eg. letters to MSM).

    b. Along the way, other politicians whether from other Opposition parties have spoken about them at election rallies (before they went into hibernation). Even the ruling party ones have themselves suggested the same ideas in parliament.

    c. If GG indeed claims credit for these ideas (and I am not saying he is), then he is replicating his party colleague, The Pompous Singh, in ‘borrowing’ ideas and pretending to own them.

    I suggest to GG not to try much harder NOT to sound so desperate ….. and cheapo (sic).

  3. Don’t get it. G listen to people.. would assume they include WP what. Can we don’t do this? Regardless of race, language or politics? Tot Low Thia Kiang say intention is to keep Driver awake, not take the wheel? If driver listen to suggestion, then stop playing partisan polictics leh.. we simple singaporeans very sianz you all..

  4. “The intellectual commons gave rise to the idea (concerning the PSLE T-score). We are merely co-creators, part of the crowd-sourcing process. Ideas don’t belong to individuals; they circulate and get worked by different people.” ~ Daniel Goh

    We should be thankful that at least one other WP member takes a position that acknowledges that others may have contributed to developing those ideas announced at the NDR.

    This significantly differs from the (vainglorious) position taken up by Gerald Giam who is more interested in claiming credit by regurgitating the speeches he had made, hopefully to attribute the ideas to himself and his fellow parliamentarians as follows:

    “Many of the initiatives announced were ones that I could agree with and support — not least because some were what my colleagues and I in the Workers’ Party (WP) had been calling for in recent years……There were several other ideas that my other colleagues …..which were taken up by the PM last night.”

    https://www.facebook.com/danpsgoh/posts/570528623009885

  5. Thank you very much for making all your sweeping statements. It seems that your speeches (as well as those of your colleagues) are always aimed not at constructive comments and nation building but at credit snatching. Its very easy to point out whatneeds to be improved, everyone knows what that is we don’t need you to parrot. Where are the hows and exact ways of implantation? Non existent as usual. Majullah wayang party.

  6. Well done co-driver – the awakening of the driver.

    As elected MP, WP has done well & giving the voice for your constituency, the voice of common Singaporean. The fact the government has to get the voice via the OSC, proof that the traditional citizen feedback or grassroots like PA, CC and RC are not representing the People or not tell the government the real ground feeling.

    Having said that PM Lee speech was remarkable and passionate. He speaks of getting the politic right, and i hope WP rise to the challenge.

  7. Mr.Gerald Giam brought so many proposals for government consideration. We have to thumb up Worker party’s efforts. I think Worker Party will continue to contribute ideas and suggestions and of course this is the government will decide eventually.
    Compare the PM National day speech and Mr. Gerald Giam’s parliament speeches, We have to give the thumb up. It obviously show that Worker Party care for Singapore. Thanks a lot.

  8. Daniel H, first of all WP did raised those concerns.

    Secondly, only with Opposition in Parliament, did those concerns were raised. WHICH PAP MP or MINISTER raised those concerns.

    Thirdly, if you think it is so easy, why not you RUN for MP, I think you will be given the Singaporean SLAP and PAP will lose heavily.

  9. Its simply ridiculous that there are hypocrites and PAP-funded propagandists pointing out that you’re here to claim credit for the National Day Rally.

    Why? Because even if it were true, it takes only the biggest, most ingratiating and most slavish ****sucker and lapdog to jump to this before seeing and expressing the writing on the wall.

    The fact that it takes somebody, who’s a non-constituency MP who think of and come up with beneficial policies and proposed changes and the top guy in command that’s paying himself over $2 million bucks is the one following your lead! The scale of this insanity and imbalance is so mind-boggling, only the very biggest lapdog would not have it staring at his face.

    Wait it gets worse. Not only does the PM have at his disposal, highly “qualified” and almost as well paid lieutenants (his ministers), who are paid far more than what Giam receives in his allowance, he also has a huge court of over 80 MPs flying the PAP banner. Why didn’t any of these 80 well-qualified and handsomely remunerated MP, assist in and give the PM any of these pointers?

    To make matters worse, we’re all familiar with the civil service set-up. Not only does the ruling party boast of such sparkling talent that only millions can buy, the PM and his ministers have at their disposal, the most handsomely paid and talented permanent secretaries and their Admin Service officers! Our top permanent secretaries are paid more than President Obama. Our “normal” permanent secretaries are paid more than VP Biden! Why? Because we can’t afford to lose these top mandarins to the private sector because of their blinding intellect.

    Pitting the “intellectual” resources that is within the reach and authority of the ruling PAP government with that of a NMP is such a ridiculous exercise.

    PAP should be ashamed if PM’s golden speech that comes once a year ended up with even as little as one inspired pointer from an NMP, people that the PAP were quick to dismiss in the past as “untalented”, as long as they weren’t recruited by their establishment.

  10. Sorry man, you just sound way too desperate to claim credits. Everybody has ideas, and probably even the same ones depending on their areas of interest. It is a matter of implementing and making these ideas feasible which differentiates between politicians who DO and those who SAY.

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