Middle-class squeeze, S’porean anxieties & building a trampoline of support: Day 2 of Budget Debate


It is Day Two of our Budget Debate, and our hardworking MPs have continued to speak up on behalf of Singaporeans from different backgrounds.

Here are some of our favourite highlights from Day Two. 

Empathising with self-employed workers

“Our self-employed workers, like Alexander the Great, face a Gordian Knot when it comes to their financial future. And as the legend goes, a headless knot cannot be undone unless one takes extreme measures to cut it apart. I believe as a society, we need to support and arm our vulnerable self-employed workers better when they decide to face their Gordian Knots.”

Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC)

Characterising the problems self-employed workers faced as a Gordian Knot, Ms Yeo used her platform to urge the Government to do more to help self-employed workers upskill and mitigate costs. 

Recognising the middle-class squeeze

“The reality is that rising prices will continue to exert pressure on all income groups… Middle income workers are often hit the hardest as they are unable to receive government subsidies and support as their salaries tend to be higher than the qualifying threshold.”

Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman (Marine Parade GRC)

Helping lower-income Singaporeans through tough times is a priority.

Nonetheless, Mr Aliman hopes the Government will not forget the middle classes, especially those with dependents who are now tightly squeezed and find their standard of living falling.

Building a trampoline of support

“We need to recognise that there are Singaporeans who are being pushed to their limits of adversity more than others and to be truly inclusive, we need to face up to this and push ourselves to consider whether it warrants more specific support for them to build resiliency.”

Ms Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC)

Recognising that too much adversity can overstrain a person, Ms Jaafar is pushing for more support for retrenched middle-income Singaporeans, ex-offenders and those in debt. Groups where resilience is badly needed but is in short supply.

Looking into the anxieties of Singaporeans

“Is our survivalist narrative presenting a disconnect between the fact and reality of our progress? Could it be entrenching more anxiety in our people than is necessary? If the premise for our nation’s progress is that human resources are our biggest national resource, then protecting it and allowing it to thrive should be the key agenda.”

Ms Carrie Tan (Nee Soon GRC)

Ms Tan asked some hard-hitting questions, getting us to think about whether it is time to consider a different model of progress.

After all, the growth-at-all-costs approach we inherited from the early days of nation-building could very well be detrimental to our mental health today.

Supporting unwed single mothers

“It is already hard raising a child alone. It is even harder when our policies become structural roadblocks that inadvertently result in unequal access. I do not think that most women make it a point to be intentionally single and unwed. Instead, when we penalise the mother, we penalise their children. Are we then setting these children up for failure?”

Dr Shahira Abdullah (NMP)

The recent measures to support families, such as the Working Mother’s Child Relief, are welcomed by most.

However, Dr Shahira feels that unwed single mothers, who will need more support, should not be penalised at the expense of their children.

Helping seniors age with dignity

“We must act swiftly to create the infrastructure, care services and a whole ecosystem to allow seniors to age-in-place with dignity. To do so, we must pilot and scale ideas, while also supporting, but not supplanting, caregivers. Finally, we must find a way to embed genuine care and concern in our system, even as we roll out more and more complex solutions.”

Mr Henry Kwek (Kebun Baru SMC)

Singapore has an ageing population.

But besides increasing our healthcare capacity, Mr Kwek believes that we must be bold and creative in our approach to care for our seniors without sacrificing the human touch.


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