Sylvia Lim: R&D spending needs to be accounted for

I agree that it is necessary for Singapore to invest heavily in R&D for our nation’s future. However, it is critically important to measure the output and impact of our R&D investments to ensure that it is money well-spent.

This is admittedly not an easy task. The results from research may take years to materialise, and some R&D may be undertaken for strategic reasons, the benefits of which may not be easy to quantify. Nevertheless, any public spending needs to be accounted for.

This was a speech in Parliament on 8 March 2010 by NCMP, Sylvia Lim, during the Committee of Supply debate, on the budget for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). Read other Workers’ Party speeches and statements at wp.sg.

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Since the year 2000, Singapore has spent $33 billion on R&D, also referred to as the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development, or GERD. Of this, about $12 billion was funded by taxpayers.

I agree that it is necessary for Singapore to invest heavily in R&D for our nation’s future. However, it is critically important to measure the output and impact of our R&D investments to ensure that it is money well-spent.

This is admittedly not an easy task. The results from research may take years to materialise, and some R&D may be undertaken for strategic reasons, the benefits of which may not be easy to quantify. Nevertheless, any public spending needs to be accounted for. Continue reading “Sylvia Lim: R&D spending needs to be accounted for”

Do your part to help disaster victims in Asia

We in Singapore are so fortunate to be shielded from all these calamities. Who says we have no natural resources? Our prized geographical position surrounded by calm seas and huge land masses is a natural resource in itself, that has contributed immensely to our economic development.

It is so heartbreaking to read about all the victims of natural disasters in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Samoa all in the past one week. I can’t remember a week when so many disasters hit Asia at one go.

According to charity World Vision, 24.8 million people have been affected by floods in Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and India, and the earthquakes in Sumatra, Indonesia.

We in Singapore are so fortunate to be shielded from all these calamities. Who says we have no natural resources? Our prized geographical position surrounded by calm seas and huge land masses is a natural resource in itself, that has contributed immensely to our economic development.

To him whom much is given, much is also required. Let’s open up our hearts and our wallets to help our neighbours and fellow Asians.

Here’s what’s being done by just World Vision alone, and how you can help. I particularly appreciate the innovation of Child-Friendly Spaces that they have set up in Sumatra:

(From an email I received from World Vision)

Typhoon Ketsana and Typhoon Parma

Countries affected: Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Number of people affected: 3.9 million
Urgent need: US$2.65 million

  • World Vision Philippines has distributed relief goods to 15,670 people. Food items distributed include: 25 kilogram of rice, one packet of crackers, one packet of cheese cake bread, five litres of purified water, six packs of noodles, one kilogram of dried fish, one packet of coffee, one packet of sugar, 500 grams of iodised salt, one litre of cooking oil, four cans of corned beef, two cans of canned meat and five cans of sardines. Non-food items include two packets of sanitary napkins, three pieces of bath soaps, 2 sets of clothing, one mosquito net, one blanket, one plastic mat, one aluminium pot for cooking and 1 ladle for each family.
  • World Vision Philippines will provide assistance to 20,000 families, totalling 100,000 people in inaccessible areas in Marikina, Pasig, Cainta, and areas in Rizal province. Essential health services, food, water and other relief goods such as blankets and mats, as well as psychosocial support to about 800 affected children will continue to be provided over the next three months. Ongoing relief distributions and assessments are still being done to reach severely hit areas that have yet to receive aid.
  • For Typhoon Parma, World Vision Philippines is carrying out relief efforts in Zambales, Isabela and Cagayen. To date, more than 18,000 people have received relief packs and World Vision humanitarian relief experts are assessing the needs of the affected families.
  • World Vision Vietnam has distributed about US$30,000 worth of relief goods comprising rice, noodles, life vest, raincoats, torches and water. About 50,000 people will benefit from this initial response. World Vision Vietnam is also working alongside the government, UN agencies and other international NGOs to meet pressing needs such as food aid and shelter in the hardest hit provinces. In the longer term, World Vision Vietnam aims to help the affected children and families regain normalcy in their lives by helping them rebuild their livelihoods, and will incorporate plans to ensure that school children in affected project areas will receive continuity in their schooling as well.
  • World Vision Laos has distributed relief supplies such as food, water, candles, lighters and water purification tablets for some 2,755 families in 25 villages in Sepone district. World Vision aims to rebuild livelihoods by providing the affected communities with rice, seeds and livestock, in replacement of their loss. World Vision also plans to rebuild houses, set up rice banks and provide revolving loans.

To help them rebuild their lives, please click here

West Sumatra Quake

Areas affected: Padang and Padang Pariaman, Indonesia
Number of people affected: 600,000
Urgent need: US$2 million

  • About 60,000 people will benefit from World Vision’s relief efforts. World Vision Indonesia distributed 8,000 family kits and 4,250 children kits. These kits include items such as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, sarongs, sanitary napkins, toothbrushes and soap.
  • In Padang, World Vision delivered 2,000 collapsible water containers and 1,022 water containers while in Bungus Timor, World Vision has distributed 1,000 family kits and 2,000 water kits. World Vision will be sending another 16,000 water containers to Padang in the next few days.
  • Children are especially vulnerable psychologically to disasters, it is thus very important to give children a safe place where they can play, to provide them with sense of stability, routine, normalcy, to get them with their friends and away from the distress all around them. World Vision Indonesia will set up 13 Child-Friendly Spaces (4 in Padang and 9 in Pariaman) that will benefit some 1,953 children. Child-Friendly Spaces are designed to provide psychosocial support to children after a disaster or conflict.

To help them rebuild their lives, please click here

India Floods

Severely-affected areas: Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Number of people affected: 17.8 million in Karnataka, 2.5 million in Andhra Pradesh.
Urgent need: US$2 million

  • Floods in southern India have left 1.5 million homeless, 200 dead, and more than 200,000 homes destroyed. As a result, millions of farmers are suffering from failed harvests or crops destroyed by floodwaters. Massive food shortages resulting from flooding and drought are now impacting hundreds of millions of India’s civilians and setting back ongoing humanitarian work by years. World Vision India targets to meet the immediate needs of 180,000 flood survivors who have been driven from their homes into relief camps.
  • MehboobnagarAndhra Pradesh: World Vision India has distributed family packs consisting of tarpaulins, mosquito nets, buckets, plates, mugs, towels and bed sheets to 500 families. Some 3,000 families will be receiving food supplies including rice, lentils and oil in the next few days.
  • Premadhara, Andhra Pradesh: World Vision India distributed cooked food including rice, lentil curry and vegetables to 3,700 people.
  • Bijapur, Karnataka: World Vision India has distributed emergency food and non-food items for 185 families, and aims to distribute relief supplies to 2,600 families by Oct 9. Currently, many people are getting clean water from the reservoir that World Vision built through its Area Development Programme in previous years.

To help them rebuild their lives, please click here

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NOTE: I am not employed by World Vision, neither is this blog post requested by them nor endorsed by them. I prefer donating to World Vision because I find they are one of the most well organised and well run relief agencies operating in our region.