In my earliest posts, I’ve already scrutinized Worker’s Party and National Solidarity Party’s manifesto. On top of that, I’ve also given my own manifesto, titled ‘Magnifest-OH!’ but that was just for fun of course although I do want some of those things I proposed to come to life.
Before I proceed further to scrutinize on all the other opposition manifesto, next would be to look at the incumbent’s, People’s Action Party manifesto.
Whilst WP’s manifesto was written to look like it resembled a formal proposal complete with an introduction page, including outlining their philosophies which guide them in drafting that manifesto, NSP’s manifesto looked a lot like it was one drafted by students who were unclear about how to write a proposal. It was one that was brief and simplistic – I’d say it looked a lot like what I would have done when I was in polytechnic because I was so damn lazy to give the details. In short, cannot be bothered because I’d focus more on my presentation.
The People’s Action Party manifesto on the other hand looked a lot like a brochure, one that was going all out to sell a product – in this case, the cause for electorate to vote the PAP. Filled with photographs and layouts done, it definitely looks like they had spent a considerable sum of money to perhaps pay an advertising or a publisher to help them organise their manifesto.
Regardless, it is of bigger importance that we look into the content rather than be distracted by the photographs because that’s what the photographs serves to do – DISTRACT.
Create Opportunities for Higher Incomes for All
The People’s Action Party proposes that to achieve that, 1) they’ll ensure that there will be a diverse and innovative economy enabling Singapore to overcome the competitive challenges ahead and hold its own internationally, 2) help companies to expand and compete overseas whilst attracting new investments that add value to Singapore, 3) deepen R & D and innovation in every industry so that companies can come up with new products and services to grow their business, 4) work with unions and firms to raise productivity and upgrade jobs in every line of work to that workers can raise their skills level and earn more and lastly, 5) investing in Continuous Education and Training to ensure everyone can have the chance to develop their skills and and expertise or enter new fields.
The first question that came to my mind, how do they plan to achieve their objective to raise incomes for all especially for low and middle income if most of what they had mentioned didn’t address anything specific about income except for their last 2 points. It is a very business-oriented proposal that they have and in business, it is every company’s aim to ensure that they will be able to run at low cost whilst generating high returns.
When companies expand and compete overseas, they will further need to cut overheads cost and this is achieved through hiring of cheaper labour – if that is the case, cheap labour doesn’t come from Singapore and hence, low educated (low income) Singaporeans will not be getting these jobs. In R&D, innovation will lead to a more technology-run businesses – this means that to get a job, you’ll need to be highly skilled to operate an innovation that will be able to do the work of 5 to 10 people. That also means loss of jobs for low educated and low income Singaporeans.
I can only agree with their last two points to increase skills and education through training in which they pledge to pump in $2.5 billion. However, this has already been in place for several years through SPUR and WDA. The data at which people who went for re-training and received higher paying jobs were never revealed. If such a programme was indeed successful, wouldn’t they have wanted to present it to the public? This same question was addressed to Indranee Rajah at a policy forum in which she steered the answer away and got away scot free. I am therefore, unconvinced.
Improve The Lives of Lower-Income Singaporeans
PAP is proposing the above by 1) enhancing income through Workfare, 2) helping them own homes through Additional Housing and Special Housing Grants as well as to give housing more housing options including two-room flats, 3) supporting children with bursaries and grants and to have specialists to intervene in school, 4) strengthen safety net for needy, ill or disabled through Medifund, Comcare and Public Assistance Scheme and lastly, 5) fostering spirit of volunteerism and community groups to help raise donations through government co-funding.
For this proposal, disbursing workfare is good but at the current levels of workfare being handed out, it is still insufficient to help the lower-income. What it has done is to create a system of reliance on government and community groups when instead, the focus should be on ensuring they can be self-reliant. I am however supportive of the additional grants simply because homes cost a bomb.
With regards to bursaries and grants, we all know that with bursaries and grants it is very much pegged to results. Most low-income Singaporeans that I’ve worked with have difficulty even trying to read because of the environment they’re in at home, if such is the case, how will they even perform in school to qualify for the bursaries and grants. What would be more feasible perhaps is to have a policy promoting FREE Education.
FREE education and books and writing materials needs to be given to those who’s household income and income per capita per household is at a certain amount. This will give bigger assurance to the family that their children will still be able to go to school and the family will be able to fully focus on ensuring the family gets out of the poverty/poor trap. Of course, additionally, there should also be programmes for the children whereby based on performance and progress (academic and attitude), they’ll be given cash disbursement in the form of bursaries which will serve to motivate them to do better.
Community groups in Singapore have always been active in helping the community, I think what’s needed is for a restructuring of the Overseas Community Involvement Project. Most students prefer to do CIP overseas, the criteria needs to be tightened to ensure that they can only perform OCIP if any of the programmes they have proposed cannot be done locally. And if their programmes can be done overseas, they need to the programme locally first to benefit the local community before they are allowed to contribute to the overseas community. This will ensure that all the criteria for OCIP has in place a system which will benefit the residents here first ahead of others.
Bring Out The Best In Every Child
PAP proposes to do this through 1) engaging and deploying more teachers and allied educators, 2) upgrade and improve on facilities in schools, 3) open pathways for diverse interest in students, 4) offering bigger support for special needs and learning difficulties, 5) widen programmes in IHLs and 6) building more kindergartens and childcare centres.
I’m absolutely not convinced at how all these can bring out the best in every child. Engaging and deploying more teachers and allied educators only builds up the numbers but what’s the point if these employees are not able to remain in such line for a long time. Most come in and leave after a few years because of the additional responsibilities and pressure at work not related to teaching or get into the job because they are unable to secure a job of their choice. That aside, what are the kind of specialized training that will be given to ensure correct matching of teachers to students.
How do you also plan to open pathways for diverse interest in students? As it is, students already have diverse interest which are unfortunately, curbed by the school’s management. Students can manage this diverse interest by themselves but they just need to be given the support by the school’s to help them harness their potential.
Bigger support for those with learning difficulties and special needs is a must but what kind of support and how do they plan to implement these support? I’ve been priviledged to have worked with students with learning difficulties and it is no doubt a challenge. More specialized people are required in this industry and this can only be done if there’s sufficient training out there and support from the government to encourage more people to get into this industry.
Develop a Vibrant City and an Endearing Home
PAP plans to achieve this through1) providing new, high-quality and affordable HDB homes, 2) upgrade and preserve value of older homes,3) makeover to towns,4) investing $60 billion to MRT network to ease congestion and reduce commuting time, 5) build more places for recreation and to have 6) thriving arts and cultural scene.
New homes – YES but high-quality and affordable HDB homes? I beg to differ.. If we can remember in recent years, new homes in Sengkang/Punggol area faced a problem of popping tiles. New – YES. High quality – Errr… Not too sure about that.
Upgrade and preserve value of older homes? Allow me to share a personal story, about two years ago, I was staying in a home in Marsiling. Homes in Marsiling are about 30 years old and one fine day, the concrete ceiling in the kitchen fell onto my mom’s head. Thankfully, her head remained intact and nothing was wrong and when I met the MP there, Hawazi Daipi, to address this issue during his walkabouts, all he could care about was lift upgrading as he refused to address my question, “Why focus on lift upgrading when this is an old flat. Shouldn’t you instead focus on ensuring the structural safetyness within and surrounding the homes?”. He didn’t answer that question at all so you decide what his priority was.
MRT lines can be doubled with more trains to ease human congestion but the same problem will recur because PAP had already mentioned that they want to raise residents here to 6.5 million. We need to reduce the number of residents first and when that happens, we don’t need to be spending money. Besides, having more trains also means more maintenance, more maintenance means more cost incurred and how will these cost be paid for? You do the math.
Involve All Singaporeans In Shaping Our Future
PAP plans to do this by 1) enhancing participation and public feedback channels, 2) improve our democracy, 3) encourage youths to pursue causes they believe in, 4) keep close ties with Singaporeans overseas, 5) help new Singaporeans integrate, 6) deepen trust among different races and religion, 7) sustain our collective will to safeguard’s nation’s security and preserve what we’ve built together.
As it is, Singaporeans are very participative in a lot of public channels available online. The problem is, most of what’s being feedback gets moderated (if it’s in the mainstream media) and if such feedback is deemed to be too violently strong, a lawyer’s letter gets sent to the residence. If all these is allowed to remain free, we already have our democracy in place. Think about YOG comments made on FaceBook as well as the comments I made on my blog during the floods in Bukit Timah.
Youths are very much pursuant to the causes they believe in but most of which are categorized as unlawful. We’ve got youths involved in graffitti art (vandalise) and technical skills (modification of vehicles) but when they pursue their interest, they get a slap on their hands. A relaxation of the law needs to be enacted to allow more diversity in culture and support for the community interests.
With regards to deepening trust between races and religion, I think PAP should try to focus on getting Lee Kuan Yew to trust Malays and Muslims first. If he can trust Malays and Muslims to hold positions the in Navy and RSAF, we won’t have to worry. But regardless, they never mention how they want to achieve this. I think we need to have Religious Understanding as part of the curriculum to educate students and also, remove the CMIO segregation to integrate everyone together.
I don’t need to be told I’m Malay or Chinese, I’ll decide what I am by the language I speak and the cultural practices I partake. FYI, I’m listed as ‘Others’ in a National Census and I wonder why.
Okay, so those are some of the highlights in PAP’s manifesto available to be read here.
Similar to NSP’s manifesto, it’s very very simplistic for a party that has been governing our country. It’s also very very fluffy in it’s manifesto. To make it worst, I think we can sense that PAP is worried about the Malay vote which is why they have specially catered for the Malay manifesto even though there’s only 15% Malays in Singapore.
Very patronizing too I think! Don’t forget Malay is the National Language of Singapore and if such is the case, Malay should be taught to all students. As it is, from the 20 years ago to now, I still hear students not able to sing Majulah Singapura properly.
To end, I’m just not convinced with PAP’s manifesto.
Nice to see, Nice to read but when you analyze, it’s really just fluffy.
Smart of PAP too actually to put in photos and put it in Malay because most people just can’t be bothered to read! So, photos do the job since a photo tells a thousand words. Happy photos mean people are happy with them!
Don’t get distracted.