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.

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Military is no place for foreigners

I am of the view that non-Singaporeans should be prohibited from being members of our security services, especially the military.

Today’s newspapers were flush with stories of foreigners who are serving in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The Straits Times highlighted some Russians, Chinese and Indian nationals, as well as Malaysians, who are serving in various leadership capacities in the SAF.

This uniquely Singaporean quirk has come about because our law requires children of first generation permanent residents (i.e., second generation PRs) to serve their National Service (NS) or forfeit their PR status. With the influx of foreigners into Singapore over the past 10 years and the liberal way in which PR status is dispensed to so many foreigners, it is inevitable that we are seeing many more foreigners donning camouflage green uniforms these days.

I feel that non-Singaporeans should be prohibited from being members of our security services, especially the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). I know I am treading on sensitive ground by saying this, especially in the context of the debate between the privileges and obligations of citizens and foreigners in Singapore.

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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!”

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