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Friday, 1 March 2013

What They Did'nt Tell You!

The Government of Singapore has presented two documents namely the The Population White Paper and The Budget 2013 to steer Singapore in the next five years and beyond.  Since garnering the lowest percentage vote of 60% in the 2011 General Election and the subsequent loss of 2 By-Elections - in Hougang and Punggol East - the ruling Party had confessed and apologised openly of its mistakes and promised the citizens it would do better.  The citizens were not convinced and had seen through "the crocodile tears shed".  This culminated in the Hong Lim Park Civil Protest on 16 February 2013 where thousands attended - among whom are children, housewives, workers, senior citizens, politicians, academics, etc. The cry of the people is loud and clear!

1) The Population White Paper - The projected population of 6.9 million by 2030 raised many people's eyebrows considering the daily crunch the public encountered in their daily commute. The assumptions that ageing population will slow down economic growth and optimal TFR (Total Fertility Rate) calculations were open to questions.  According to Austrian demographer Prof. Wolfgang Lutz who was in town recently the dire situation as portrayed in the Paper on the ageing population was over done.  He cited the examples of Germany and Cyprus - the former with an ageing population was thriving economically while the later whose population is 10 years younger and dynamic did not overtake the former.  He added the next cohort of older generation will be more educated and thus translated to a better-educated, active and productive elderly population.  He also suggested the TFR for Singapore is 1.7 rather than the usal 2.1.  He said we may be working on outdated data.

2) The Budget 2013 - The Government labelled the Budget as "inclusive".  Yes, " inclusiveness" is a value very much enshrined in our Pledge - " build a democatic society based on justice and equality ....".  The Government has all along always been "tight-fisted".  It can be a lot more charitable and forth-coming in lightening the people's burden especially for the botttom rung of the 20% of the population.  More can be done and should be done for the whole population from the young, the schooling, the working class, the elderly, the business community, the civic society, etc. Whatever can be done for the social good the Government should not spare its efforts.  I hope by 2015 after half century of our nationhood we all Singaporeans can be proud that we have attained the Swiss standard of living where low wages, long working hours and cost of living will not require our attention anymore.  For this to become a reality the Government must always stand on the the side of the weak, the vulnerable, the poor, the disadvantaged, the young child, the widow, the working mothers, the elderly, etc.  This is a tall order!  I see a "sparkling" RED DOT.

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