Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Parliament Highlights

MPs Cedric Foo and Chen Show Mao clash over immigration
Member of Parliament for Pioneer SMC Cedric Foo (left) and Workers' Party MP Chen Show Mao (right). Photo: Channel NewsAsia

Immigration proved to be a hot topic in Parliament today (May 30). Member of Parliament for Pioneer SMC, Mr Cedric Foo, quizzed Workers’ Party MP, Mr Chen Show Mao, on his party’s stance on the issue.

Mr Chen had just spoken about investing in elderly Singaporeans, when Mr Foo fired the first salvo. Their exchange is reproduced below.

Mr Cedric Foo: “He speaks about ageing issues and ageing society and I want to thank him for supporting the effort to engage Singaporeans in a dialogue to see how we may address this. But really, underpinning the ageing population, is the need to bring in immigrants, and I would like to seek his view to see if he thinks it’s necessary for Singapore’s long-term future to bring in immigrants.”

PAP MP Inderjit Singh confronts Singapore’s hard truths in wide-ranging Facebook post

Yahoo Newsroom - PAP MP Inderjit Singh confronts Singapore's hard truths in wide-ranging Facebook post, published on Monday, 26 May 2014. (Screengrab from video)

People’s Action Party Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh has written a lengthy – if surprisingly critical – commentary on the performance of the government under the ruling party in the past three years.

The disconnect between Singapore’s wealth and citizens’ well-being, the importing of talent, the complacency and elitism in the top ranks of civil servants, and the national identity for Singapore’s young people – these were the issues the former deputy government whip raised in a Facebook post Monday night titled“Response to the President Address At the Re-Opening of 2nd Session of Parliament May 2014”.

Known to be vocal about political issues – he spoke against the population White Paper that projected as many as 6.9 million people in the city-state by 2030 and eventually abstained from voting on it – Singh explained that he was sharing his thoughts on the social media platform since he was overseas and could not participate in the parliamentary debates on President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s address.

Response to the President Address

1. Parliament is debating the President’s address this week. I wanted to share my thoughts on what the government has achieved in the past 3 three years and what more it can do in the remainder of this 12th term of parliament. Since I am currently traveling and not in Singapore, I decided to share my thoughts through this post instead.

2. Post GE2011, the government got a very clear signal from Singaporeans about the issues that affected them most and the government spent considerable time fixing these problems, which were created as a result of a decade long series of policy misjudgment linked to its “growth at all cost” economic strategy. We must all agree, that the government has done well in many areas, particularly the manner in which it sorted out issues in the housing, healthcare and even transport to some extent.

3. The icing on the cake has been the Pioneer Generation Package, which is unprecedented in Singapore on many counts and shows that the government is taking an effort to move beyond dollars and cents, to inculcate care and compassion in policy making. But, really though, beyond the Pioneer Package, if someone were to ask me honestly whether the lives of all Singaporeans have become better in these last few years, I would not be able to do that.

PM Lee asks Low Thia Khiang: Where do you stand?
Yahoo Newsroom - Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cross swords in parliament on Wednesday, 28 May 2014. (Screengrabs)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang faced off on Wednesday afternoon in parliament, with the government leader accusing Low's opposition party of being "inarticulate" outside of election periods.

In the continuing parliamentary debates on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address to the House, a roughly 12-and-a-half minute verbal battle between the secretary-generals of the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP) and lead opposition party WP saw the premier asking Low repeatedly, “Where do you stand? Where are we totally wrong?”

Lee accused Low and his WP MPs of failing to express clearly their position on important issues.
“In a serious parliament the government presents policies, the opposition presents its alternatives,” said Lee. “You do have a responsibility to say which direction are we going, and that direction has to be set clearly, not to explain to the PAP but to explain to Singaporeans what you stand for. And what you stand for cannot be what the PAP is doing, and a little bit better. That means you have no stand.”

‘Constructive politics’ sparks heated debate between Low, Indranee

Sparks flew on the first day of Parliament reconvening after a mid-term break, as Opposition leader Low Thia Khiang yesterday crossed swords with Senior Minister of State (Law and Education) Indranee Rajah over what constitutes “constructive politics”.

Among other things, Mr Low said the phrase could be just rhetoric from the Government and that what mattered was the outcome of the political process — a view that Ms Indranee took issue with.

Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday spoke in response to President Tony Tan’s address when he reopened the 12th Parliament earlier this month.

related: Low, Indranee in sharp exchange

read more

Picture Of The Week

Parliament Trivial: The way Josephine Teo looks adoringly at PM Lee Hsien Loong - PRICELESS

read more

30 May 2014 - "Passionate" debate an example of constructive politics: MP Zaqy Mohamad

The final day of the five-day debate on the President's address in Parliament saw the hot topic of immigration taking the spotlight.

Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad described the five-day debate on the President's address in Parliament, to chart the Government's agenda for the second half of its term as a "robust" and "passionate" debate.

Mr Zaqy, who had tabled the motion of thanks to the President, wrapped up the debate on Friday (May 30). He said MPs conducted themselves with decorum despite differences of opinion, which is a good step forward in constructive politics.

29 May 2014 - Change among NS recommendations set to cost $4.5 billion over a decade

POLYTECHNIC students are likely to start their national service in May or August next year, a month earlier than usual, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament yesterday.

The proposed change, which will affect an annual intake of some 11,000 polytechnic students, is one of 30 recommendations by the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS), which released its report last week.

Their implementation, including enhanced benefits for NSmen, is expected to cost about $4.5 billion over the next decade, Dr Ng said. It is a move that will have a "huge administrative impact" and require "significant investment" from the Defence Ministry, he said. About 24,500 servicemen are enlisted annually.

read more

28 May 2014 - Right politics vital to ensure that policies work: PM

CONSTRUCTIVE politics can help Singapore scale new heights but the wrong politics will doom it, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday as he set out policies to address key concerns about the future, and explained why the right politics was crucial to making them work.

Joining the debate in Parliament on the President's Address, which entered its third day yesterday, Mr Lee said politics is not just about words but that "Singaporeans' lives and Singapore's future are at stake".

He then gave his Government's most detailed definition to date of constructive politics, an issue that has become a running theme in this debate, with Workers' Party (WP) and People's Action Party (PAP) MPs locking horns over it.

read more

27 May 2014 - Govt plan to engage public on ageing issues

A NATIONAL action plan to help Singapore's seniors live meaningful lives as they age is expected to be ready by next year.

This "coherent national agenda" will include helping them learn new things, getting the workplace to be more welcoming, and making it easier for them to live with their families.

These measures will not just allow seniors to remain active, but also to have "their days filled with excitement", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

read more

26 May 2014 - MPs debate President's address

NINETEEN Members of Parliament yesterday joined the debate on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address at the opening of the 12th Parliament's second session.

They highlighted a need to better help older Singaporeans save for retirement, and workers and students prepare for a future where competition for jobs will be more heated and unpredictable.
Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) who led off the debate, spoke of people's retirement worries and called for a government-led plan to improve returns on Central Provident Fund savings.

read more

related: Constructive Politics: PM Lee Vs WP Chief