The PAP Government must take action and show empathy to relieve the pain points which Singaporeans face today, said Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, MP for Potong Pasir SMC.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans must guard against koyok sellers in the Opposition peddling a doom spiral and too-good-to-be true “miracle cures”.
Below is an abridged version of Mr Sitoh’s Budget debate speech which was delivered today (February 22).
Today, there are a number of pain points that are evident.
There is high global inflation, coupled with sluggish economic growth. Our local inflation is hovering around 5 per cent.
COE prices remain high (and here, I am not discomforted by high COEs for big or luxury cars but for smaller cars and motorcycles). Many people need either a small car or a motorcycle for work. Workers in the point-to-point transportation and platform delivery industries are good examples.
The wait for HDB flats.
The wait for appointments in our public healthcare system brought about by the pandemic and exacerbated by the global competition for nursing and other healthcare manpower.
And of course, the GST increase.
But policies and programmes do provide substantial relief. Examples of these in this year’s Budget include:
- Enhanced GST Vouchers
- Additional CDC Vouchers
- An Assurance Package that addresses rising cost of living and aims to support, among others, students and seniors
- Help for families with young children
Concrete solutions must combine with empathy
We must also acknowledge the pain and provide comfort at the emotional level. A listening ear, a gentle pat, a nod — all these are small things we can do to provide emotional comfort.
And sometimes, I feel that we focus too much on finding solutions to the pain that we fall short on empathy. We can improve ourselves.
The record of the PAP speaks for itself over the past 64 years.
Through our policies and programmes, we strive to improve the lives of the less fortunate. The social mobility of Singaporeans over this period demonstrates this.
But sometimes, we do come across as a bit lacking in empathy. And empathy goes a long way when it comes to providing comfort.
Singapore’s glass is half-full, not half-empty
Finally, there is another part to providing relief and comfort that is beyond focusing on our present-day problems. It is like looking at whether a glass is half-full or half-empty.
We need to also focus on the half-full glass and ask ourselves: Where do the possibilities lie? What is the potential to make the glass of water fuller than what it is now? Or do we believe that the glass will get emptier and emptier as time goes by? Is the best behind us or is yet to be?
It is also the aim of any Opposition who aspires to be the Government one day to convince the people that the glass is getting emptier and emptier and also to get them to focus on the pain points, to persuade the people that these pain points are unremitting, intractable and in fact getting worse and worse to the point of being life-threatening.
They want you to change your doctor.
The 4G leadership will stay on course and drive Singapore forward
As we transition from 3G to 4G, it must be the responsibility of the incoming 4G leadership to inspire Singaporeans to greater heights, to convince a new generation that the glass is going to get bigger and fuller at the same time, while acknowledging that pain points exist and to provide adequate and effective pain relief here and now, while working towards viable and sustainable long-term solutions.
How do we make sure the glass of water gets fuller and not emptier?
If there is one truism in geopolitics, it is that no one owes us a living. Especially for a city state that is nothing more than a little red dot on many maps.
We have to stay relevant, be nimble, and embrace change. Staying relevant means we have to offer the services and products that other countries want and pay a good price for.
If we can do that, we will continue to have the things that we want, such as good jobs for everyone and a safe environment and good schools to raise our children in as well as affordable housing and reliable public transport.
In 2014, I said in this House that for Singapore to survive and prosper, we need to have the relevant skillsets, right attitude and the moral compass and values. I am optimistic for Singapore because I see these three ingredients in the 4G leadership, and the people.
Images via Lawrence Wong/Facebook, MOM, MOF, MCI/YouTube