Supper Club interview with the Straits Times

I did a two-hour long interview with the Straits Times for its “Supper Club” series, which was published on 18 January 2014. I shared my thoughts on a range of issues, including healthcare financing, public transport, media regulation, education and the Workers’ Party’s approach to political engagement. I also shared about my work as a Non-constituency MP and about my family.

I did a two-hour long interview with the Straits Times for its “Supper Club” series, which was published on 18 January 2014. I shared my thoughts on a range of issues, including healthcare financing, public transport, media regulation, education and the Workers’ Party’s approach to political engagement. I also shared about my work as a Non-constituency MP and about my family.

Click the two links below to read the interview and watch the video.

Part 1:

Gerald Giam: ‘Rethink health-care financing philosophy’
Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam is the Workers’ Party’s point man on health care issues. In Part 1 of this Supper Club interview, he speaks about what he thinks should be changed in health-care financing and public transport.

Gerald Giam: ‘Rethink health-care financing philosophy’

Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam is the Workers’ Party’s point man on health care issues. In Part 1 of this Supper Club interview, he speaks about what he thinks should be changed in health-care financing and public transport.

Part 2:

Gerald Giam: ‘We’re a moderate party, not fence-sitters’

In Part 2 of this Supper Club interview, Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam of the Workers’ Party talks about whether he sees a shift in the Government’s policy approach, the difference between being moderate and sitting on the fence, and his personal life.

Sylvia Lim: Increase size of cohort entering local universities

Currently, the proportion of Primary One cohort admitted into the local subsidized universities is targeted to rise to 30% by 2015, with the new university and institute coming up. I would like to ask if MOE will review this 30% target with a view to increasing it.

This was a speech in Parliament on 10 March 2010 by NCMP, Sylvia Lim,during the Committee of Supply debate, on the budget for the Ministry of Education (MOE). Read other Workers’ Party speeches and statements at wp.sg.

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Currently, the proportion of Primary One cohort admitted into the local subsidized universities is targeted to rise to 30% by 2015, with the new university and institute coming up.
I would like to ask if MOE will review this 30% target with a view to increasing it.
I note MOE’s concerns that we should not have sudden increases in graduate numbers which may leave many unemployed or under-employed.
However, since Singapore is prioritising innovation and greater productivity, the population as a whole has to raise its game, and the jobs of the future will require different educational qualifications from currently. We are also trying to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs to find their own niches. With globalization, Singaporean graduates also have more opportunities overseas, which will still benefit their families and Singapore, directly or indirectly.
As a matter of interest, according to the OECD Factbook 2009, the 25 OECD countries were expecting to graduate on average about 37% of an age cohort from Tertiary-Type A (typical degree level) education in 2006. It was stated that there was a strong trend in increasing their cohort participation rates in the last 15 years in line with producing highly-skilled labor forces.
I agree that we need to maintain standards in university admission. However, over the years, many students who were rejected by our local universities were admitted to reputable foreign universities and did well. But this route is available only to those whose parents could afford it.
I hope the Ministry will look into revising the cohort participation rate at our local subsidized universities beyond 30%.

Currently, the proportion of Primary One cohort admitted into the local subsidized universities is targeted to rise to 30% by 2015, with the new university and institute coming up.

I would like to ask if MOE will review this 30% target with a view to increasing it.

I note MOE’s concerns that we should not have sudden increases in graduate numbers which may leave many unemployed or under-employed.

However, since Singapore is prioritising innovation and greater productivity, the population as a whole has to raise its game, and the jobs of the future will require different educational qualifications from currently. We are also trying to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs to find their own niches. With globalization, Singaporean graduates also have more opportunities overseas, which will still benefit their families and Singapore, directly or indirectly.

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Foreigners pay more, but what’s in it for Singaporeans?

In its latest political move in preparation for the election, the PAP government has decided to reduce health subsidies given to Singapore permanent residents (PRs) by 10% this year and another 10% in 2011.

This comes hot on the heels of the recent increase in fees for PRs and foreigners studying in local schools. Back in 2008, the Ministry of Health had already reduced the PR subsidy in hospitals by 10% and completely eliminated the subsidies for non-PR foreigners. The government claims that these moves are to “make a sharper distinction between the privileges a citizen is entitled to, as compared to a PR”.

I fail to see how all this benefits Singaporeans. Are Singapore citizens now going to pay less when they are admitted to hospital or attend local schools? No. Is the PAP expecting Singaporeans to rub their hands with sinister glee, as they rejoice that their PR counterparts are paying more? I don’t think Singaporeans are that vindictive.

Therefore my conclusion is that this is simply a pathetic attempt to lull Singaporeans into thinking there is actually a significant distinction between the position of foreigners and Singaporeans in this country. Secondly, it seems this is another revenue-raising exercise for the government, since there has been no mention that the money saved in subsidies is going to feed into any programme that benefits Singaporeans.

If the government was really sincere about treating Singaporeans better, they would reduce the fees that Singaporeans are paying for government services, instead of punishing foreigners for political gain.

My struggle with Chinese

Hearing MM Lee Kuan Yew admit that his bilingual policy caused generations of students to pay a heavy price because of his “ignorance” made me feel somewhat vindicated, after the years of struggling with learning Chinese in school.

Hearing MM Lee Kuan Yew admit that his bilingual policy caused generations of students to pay a heavy price because of his “ignorance” made me feel somewhat vindicated, after the years of struggling with learning Chinese in school.

In his speech at the launch of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language two days ago, MM Lee talked about how Singapore schools’ emphasis on reading and writing Chinese, instead of on listening and speaking, was the wrong approach. He singled out 默写 (memorising an entire Chinese passage and regurgitating it in a test) as “madness” (疯狂). I couldn’t agree more!

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The necessary privileges of citizenship

I was invited to be a studio guest on Channel NewsAsia’s BlogTV on 27 August 2009. This was my second time on the show. The topic for this discussion was titled, “We want more… privileges!”

This article first appeared in Hammersphere.

I was invited to be a studio guest on Channel NewsAsia’s BlogTV on 27 August 2009. This was my second time on the show. The topic for this discussion was titled, “We want more… privileges!”

Continue reading “The necessary privileges of citizenship”

Affordable uni education for poly grads

I am glad to learn from the President’s speech in Parliament on Monday that Singapore is opening up a new government-subsidised tertiary institute designed for more polytechnic graduates to be able to obtain their university degrees locally.

I think this is long overdue. I know of so many poly graduates who, because they were not in the top 10% of their class, did not qualify for local universities. Their parents had to fork out thousands for them to study overseas, usually in Australia. Apart from the drain on finances for individual families, on a national level this money could have been spent locally, contributing to the Singapore economy, instead of the Australian economy. And for the many families who couldn’t afford an Australian education, it is unfortunate that their sons and daughters were denied a quality university education because of financial constraints, and had to join the ranks of middle rung workers working for imported foreign talent.

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