Archive for the ‘Our Politicians say’ Category

Lim Hock Siew (1931-2012) – a fiercely independent unbending tenacious political fighter all his life. I was struck by the absence of bitterness despite all his sacrifices – Vivian Balakrishnan

Lim Hock Siew (1931-2012) – a fiercely independent unbending tenacious political fighter all his life

I remember meeting him 24 years ago at a party hosted by my mentor Professor Arthur Lim. They were classmates in medical school and life long friends.

He introduced himself as “I am Lim Hock Siew, and just came out of prison a few years ago!”

We had a good chat and he freely shared his life experiences. I was struck by the absence of bitterness despite all his sacrifices. I think he knew in his heart that he was a patriot, and was proud that he never gave in.

I consulted him before I entered politics. He did not discourage me. On the contrary, he told me to focus on doing the right thing. He told me he did not bear any ill will to the current leaders. He reminded me that he was a founding member of the PAP.

We met from time to time socially. Whenever we discussed politics, it was obvious that he was still a conviction socialist. There were times, we agreed to disagree.

Singapore has lost another member of the founding generation. We must all be deeply grateful to him and his family for all their sacrifices. He was a good and honourable man.

Profile Picture  Vivian Balakrishnan ·

A pretentious move for me to carry baby ? 上载抱婴儿照片 被网民批评造作.

Baey Yam Keng
English Translation

Some days ago, a netizen commented on a Facebook picture of me carrying a baby in my arms, taken during one of my weekly block visits.

  • He thought it was just a pretentious move and highlighted that cradling a baby or shaking hands with others does not genuinely reflect a loving or friendly personality.

Another netizen remarked against this:

  • When he drops in to visit, you accused him for being pretentious and when he doesn’t, you slam him for being indifferent.  When he smiles, you brush it off as a smirk, but when he doesn’t, you chastise him for being a snob.”

I am grateful for both comments.  After all, social media is a platform for interaction.

After six years as a MP, I have learnt that for whatever we do, we have to prepared that there will be both approving and disapproving voices.  The same applies to government policies which are devised to take care of the interests of the vast majority, but cannot prevent a minority from being affected negatively.

We should always give our best in what we reckon should be done.  However, we cannot allow success rule over our heads.  We should also listen and learn from feedback and criticisms so as to improve the way we do things and the lives of our fellow countrymen.

The mass media has been quite kind to me and I am grateful for the various opportunities it has provided me.

I am no thespian, but have bitten the bullet to act in front of camera, eg as the father of Zhu Ying Tai in Butterfly Lovers during the Ren Ci Hospital charity show, and as a Rohan monk, Persian Prince and a herbalist for the Speak Mandarin campaign.

Even though I am tone deaf, I went on the “Don’t Forget Your Lyrics” game show to help raise funds for Queenstown Multiservice Centre.

In response to a question by a resident during KopiTalk on my involvement at the recent Stars Award, I explained that I was there to present the “Best Current Affairs Reporting” and “Best News Reporting” Awards in my capacity as the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Information, Communications & the Arts.

A game show such as “We are Singaporeans” would allow people to see the less meditative side of us.

While we take our role seriously to look after various matters in the constituency, take care of residents’ needs and debate on national issues in parliament, at times, we can also appreciate good humour and let our hair down.

Till today, people still remember my appearance in “Gatekeepers” gameshow some years ago, and that I managed answer all the questions correctly.  I always smiled and replied that it would be rather embarrassing if I fail to of take on questions from the primary school curriculum!

It is therefore important to strike a good balance between exposing our unfamiliarity in such “extracurricular activities”, and taking on such challenges gamely.

Some feel that showing up on these programmes is a waste of time.   They felt it would have been more productive for MPs to attend community events and look after the needs of residents.

Without a single doubt, the interest of my constituency and public service is my top priority as a MP.  Only when my schedule permits, will I consider accepting such media invites.

In my opinion, media exposure and public service are not mutually exclusive.  Not all residents take part in community activities and the public can also get to know me better through the media.

People will not be any less demanding in their expectations of me just because I can carry babies well, post many pictures on Facebook or appear on TV frequently.  As an MP, my first and foremost duty is to serve with sincerity and humility, ensure that all matters within the constituency are properly managed, and that the needs and concerns of residents are adequately addressed.  We will ultimately be subject to the appraisal by residents and their rating during elections.

Baey Yam Keng
Published in MyPaper 5 Jun 2012

几天前,有一名网友对我在Facebook上载一张沿户走访时抱婴儿的照片有所意见,认为我在造作,并强调,抱婴儿不代表我们有爱心,跟人握手不代表我们友善。

另一名网友针对这评语作出反应:“有拜访就说他造作,没拜访又说他没做。他笑又说他假笑,他没笑又说他骄傲。”

我感谢这两名网友的分享,毕竟社交媒体就是一个让大家交流的平台。

当了六年的议员,我学到无论我们做什么,总会有人赞赏有人批评,就如政策一样,照顾到国家大多数人民的利益,却无法确保没有人会受到负面影响。

可是,我不能担心有人批评就凡事不敢做。

Nonetheless, I cannot be hindered by this fear of criticisms and become paranoid of doing anything. 

  认为该做的,就尽力把事情做好,有成绩不可沾沾自喜,有批评有建议,应该好好聆听接纳,为的只是要把事情做得更好,让国人的生活过得更好。

居民也质问他:为何去颁《红星大奖》?

我跟大众传播媒体颇有缘,不时有机会尝试一些平时没机会尝试的新鲜事。

我没有演戏的天份,却硬着头皮为仁慈医院的筹款节目,演了祝英台的父亲、为推广华语运动而变装扮演罗汉、波斯王子和草药师。

五音不全的我,还上Don’t Forget Your Lyrics斗唱游戏节目,一心希望替女皇镇日间康复中心筹款。

有居民在KopiTalk问我,为什么会去颁《红星大奖》,我解释说,我是以新闻、通讯与艺术部政府国会委员会(GPC)副主席的身份,表扬最佳时事报道和新闻报道。

类似We Are Singaporeans的节目,可让观众看到我们轻松的一面。

我们除了平时要很认真地处理选区内的大小事物、细心照顾居民,以及在国会讨论国家议题,其实我们也可以开开玩笑,自娱娱人。

形象与挑战之间求平衡

到现在,还有人会提起看到我几年前上《小兵迎大将》,对我能够答对所有问题,表示赞许。

我会笑着回应说,都是小学的课文范围,如果我都答不了,岂不是很丢脸?

就因为这些“课外活动”不是做议员平时会接触或擅长的,我们还得顾及到形象问题,另一方面,也要豁然接受新的挑战,在两个考量之间取得平衡。

有人觉得上这些节目浪费时间,倒不如花这些时间出席社区活动或照顾选民。

我肯定得把我的选区和公务职责放在第一位,时间许可才会考虑和接受媒体的邀请。

我也认为,在媒体曝光和为民服务之间,其实并不会互相抵触。不是每一位电视观众都有参与社区活动,如果他们可以从媒体更加认识我,也不是件坏事。

我知道选民不会因为我会抱婴儿、在Facebook上载很多照片、或频频上电视,而对我的表现特别宽容。身为议员,最重要的终究是认真是好好处理选区的事务,有效和有心地为选民服务。我们有没有做到、做得好不好,选民会知道,选民也会在大选为我们评分。

《我报》5-6-2012, 炎下之意(专栏),文/马炎庆

You can do something about Healthcare costs by signing up for CHAS, the Community Health Assist Scheme – PM Lee

Many of you have shared with me your worries about healthcare costs. You can do something about it by signing up for CHAS, the Community Health Assist Scheme. CHAS will help pay for treatment by GPs and dental clinics near your home, so that it becomes like visiting a polyclinic.

We recently improved CHAS to benefit more Singaporeans. Saw this homely video clip on TV last night, which tells you more about CHAS. Please sign up for yourself and your loved ones, and spread the word to your neighbours and friends! — LHL

NIMBY no more. Silent majority has spoken. ‘Yes, in my backyard’

NIMBY no more. Silent majority has spoken. A month ago a group of 130 Mountbatten residents had petitioned for a rehabilitation centres for the elderly to be located elsewhere

Today, a GROUP of 500 residents in Mountbatten are fighting back against their neighbours’ opposition. Kudos.

DOING IT FOR OLD FOLK
“The old folks here are unable to speak for themselves and the estate, so somebody has got to do something.” — Retired businessman Michael Tan, 72, who with a few friends in the neighbourhood began to gather support for the pro-centre petition

‘Yes, in my backyard’
Published on Jun 2, 2012, The Straits Times.  By Robin Chan

Group of 500 residents want Govt to stick to plans to build rehab centres

A GROUP of 500 residents in Mountbatten are fighting back against their neighbours’ opposition to plans for rehabilitation centres for the elderly to be built in their estate.

In what appears to be a twist to the not-in-my-backyard (Nimby) syndrome, they have petitioned the Government to stick with its plans to build the centres in the void decks of Blocks 10 and 11 on Jalan Batu.

Made up mostly of elderly folk, the group includes residents who live in these two blocks. Their petition comes about a month after a group of 130 residents had petitioned for the facilities to be located elsewhere.

The second group made their move fearing that the authorities would drop the plans or build a centre over a communal fountain – as the first group had suggested – where many like to gather.

Some of them were also frustrated by the first petition, and believe it came from younger neighbours who did not want their void deck to be used, even though it would take up only about 30 per cent of the space.

‘The younger ones don’t understand,’ said contractor A. Samat, 68, who lives in Block 10. ‘It seems that some younger residents nowadays can only think of themselves.’

Housewife Gurdip Kaur, 55, whose son has been going to a temporary rehabilitation centre at Block 12 after being injured in a car accident, agreed. ‘There are more old folk here than children,’ she told The Straits Times. ‘If the Government is doing something nice for us, we should let them.’

If built, the new centres will be about nine times the size of the temporary one, and have equipment to aid recovery from stroke or Parkinson’s disease.

The neighbourhood rift had started last month, when about 130 residents who live in Blocks 10 and 11 submitted a petition to Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan. Their concerns included the safety of children playing at the void decks, construction noise, and the likelihood of the resale price of their flats dropping.

They then proposed alternative venues for the centres: a nearby waste-bin collection centre, a central fountain next to Block 10, or the void deck of Block 1 or 14.

But the ceilings at Blocks 1 and 14 are believed to be too low to accommodate the centres, while the fountain is a popular gathering place for residents. The other blocks do not have void decks.

The petition not only fuelled national debate over the Nimby syndrome, but also angered other Jalan Batu residents who wanted the centres built in the void decks.

Hearing their concerns, retired businessman Michael Tan and a few friends in the neighbourhood began to gather support for the pro-centre petition. Said the 72-year-old, who has lived there for 16 years: ‘The old folks here are unable to speak for themselves and the estate, so somebody has got to do something.’

The signatories include residents of Blocks 10 and 11, but it is not known how many of them live in these two blocks.

Mr Lim, their MP, has submitted both petitions to the Ministry of Health, which he said is still reviewing the case. He said the Government would take into account the views of the ‘silent majority’ as well.

For older residents like Madam Teh Kar Gim, 84, the greatest fear is that the fountain gets removed.

Said her neighbour Madam Kong Mei Lan, 74: ‘It is such a nice place. Why would they want to build a centre right over that?’

chanckr@sph.com.sg

Photo: LIKE & SHARE: NIMBY no more. Silent majority has spoken. A month ago a group of 130 Mountbatten residents had petitioned for a rehabilitation centres for the elderly to be located elsewhere.<br /> Today, a GROUP of 500 residents in Mountbatten are fighting back against their neighbours' opposition. Kudos.</p> <p>DOING IT FOR OLD FOLK<br /> "The old folks here are unable to speak for themselves and the estate, so somebody has got to do something." -- Retired businessman Michael Tan, 72, who with a few friends in the neighbourhood began to gather support for the pro-centre petition</p> <p>'Yes, in my backyard'<br /> Group of 500 residents want Govt to stick to plans to build rehab centres<br /> Published on Jun 2, 2012, The Straits Times.</p> <p>By Robin Chan<br /> A GROUP of 500 residents in Mountbatten are fighting back against their neighbours' opposition to plans for rehabilitation centres for the elderly to be built in their estate.</p> <p>In what appears to be a twist to the not-in-my-backyard (Nimby) syndrome, they have petitioned the Government to stick with its plans to build the centres in the void decks of Blocks 10 and 11 on Jalan Batu.</p> <p>Made up mostly of elderly folk, the group includes residents who live in these two blocks. Their petition comes about a month after a group of 130 residents had petitioned for the facilities to be located elsewhere.</p> <p>The second group made their move fearing that the authorities would drop the plans or build a centre over a communal fountain - as the first group had suggested - where many like to gather.</p> <p>Some of them were also frustrated by the first petition, and believe it came from younger neighbours who did not want their void deck to be used, even though it would take up only about 30 per cent of the space.</p> <p>'The younger ones don't understand,' said contractor A. Samat, 68, who lives in Block 10. 'It seems that some younger residents nowadays can only think of themselves.'</p> <p>Housewife Gurdip Kaur, 55, whose son has been going to a temporary rehabilitation centre at Block 12 after being injured in a car accident, agreed. 'There are more old folk here than children,' she told The Straits Times. 'If the Government is doing something nice for us, we should let them.'</p> <p>If built, the new centres will be about nine times the size of the temporary one, and have equipment to aid recovery from stroke or Parkinson's disease.</p> <p>The neighbourhood rift had started last month, when about 130 residents who live in Blocks 10 and 11 submitted a petition to Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan. Their concerns included the safety of children playing at the void decks, construction noise, and the likelihood of the resale price of their flats dropping.</p> <p>They then proposed alternative venues for the centres: a nearby waste-bin collection centre, a central fountain next to Block 10, or the void deck of Block 1 or 14.</p> <p>But the ceilings at Blocks 1 and 14 are believed to be too low to accommodate the centres, while the fountain is a popular gathering place for residents. The other blocks do not have void decks.</p> <p>The petition not only fuelled national debate over the Nimby syndrome, but also angered other Jalan Batu residents who wanted the centres built in the void decks.</p> <p>Hearing their concerns, retired businessman Michael Tan and a few friends in the neighbourhood began to gather support for the pro-centre petition. Said the 72-year-old, who has lived there for 16 years: 'The old folks here are unable to speak for themselves and the estate, so somebody has got to do something.'</p> <p>The signatories include residents of Blocks 10 and 11, but it is not known how many of them live in these two blocks.</p> <p>Mr Lim, their MP, has submitted both petitions to the Ministry of Health, which he said is still reviewing the case. He said the Government would take into account the views of the 'silent majority' as well.</p> <p>For older residents like Madam Teh Kar Gim, 84, the greatest fear is that the fountain gets removed.</p> <p>Said her neighbour Madam Kong Mei Lan, 74: 'It is such a nice place. Why would they want to build a centre right over that?'</p> <p>chanckr@sph.com.sg

repost from Fabrications About The PAP

*Update*

  Lim Bc

Lim BC commented in the FabPAP post:

Dear all, I have stated in the ST that not all residents who are against the physiotherapy centre should be classified as “NIMBY”. Many of them do have valid concerns. I have asked MOH to look into their concerns and MOH will do their best to ensure that as they will do as much as they can to allay these concerns.

These people who oppose the centre are also my residents and I will do what I can to assist them. I will also do my best to ensure that whatever is eventually built in this area is of benefit to the majority of the residents.

Currently, the assessment by MOH is that a physiotherapy rehabilitation centre is of greater need in this estate due to the large number of elderly living in the area. The centre is by referral only and there will not be any walk in clients. Traffic congestion would not be an issue. Priority will be given to the residents living in the estate.

The plan is also to have a nursing station where nurses will make home visits to teach residents how to clean their wounds. There will be 3 full time physiotherapists located at the centre and a geriatric doctor who will make regular visits. It will be of great benefit to all the residents in Tg Rhu.

Life is filled with choices. But there is one thing we cannot choose, and that is our family : Alex Yam says

Cincang air tidak akan putus

Life is filled with choices. But there is one thing we cannot choose, and that is our family. It is in our family that we first form relationships even before our first friendships are forged; it is within the family that we find refuge and comfort.

In our Asian culture, the family plays a central role in defining our identity. To forget it is to be like kacang lupa kulit, or literally a nut that forgets its shell. Yet, it is often within the comfort of family that conflicts also arise. The over-protectiveness of parents, the urge for freedom by children, the responsibility of bearing the family’s reputation.

Karya 2012 brings out the fullness of the dilemma of family in “Sayang Anak Ku Sayang” and challenges us to think deeply about how we relate to our own families. At the end of it, we will hopefully come to the same conclusion that water cannot be sliced apart, and families like lotus roots are always stuck together.

I wish Karya 2012 every success and congratulate the Yew Tee MAEC and Aspirasi Dance Group team for an excellent performance at Republic Polytechnic!

Biduk lalu kiambang bertaut kembali.

 

Being Retirement Ready. Another change from 1 July – adjusting the Minimum Sum. Tan Chuan Jin says

Countries around the world are struggling with the impact of increasing life expectancy. In the recent meeting with my ASEAN +3 counterparts in Phnom Penh, I chatted with some on this topic. Japan for example, was facing a serious challenge as to how best to fund it. European countries are burdened by their crippling pensions. Who and how to fund it?

It is no different for us as we strive to ensure that we update our CPF system to keep it relevant. CPF Life is the one majorstep forward taken at Budget 2012. Keeping the ERC’s earlier recommendations on Minimum Sum on track remains part of this process.

Individuals must continue to also do their own planning and cater for their provisions as best as they can.

____________________________________________________________________

Some of my elderly residents come to see me about their retirement needs. There is a wide range of circumstances. Some enquire about their CPF withdrawals while some are worried about not having enough savings to tide things over. What is quite clear, is that while everyone needs to plan for his or her own retirement needs, the state needs to ensure that via the CPF, we can provide a basic level of adequacy for most, especially for our lower income Singaporeans.

This is where the CPF Minimum Sum (or MS) comes in. Every year, when we announce that the MS is being adjusted upwards, there is usually an outcry. I guess it would be the same again this year! Let me try to again explain how the MS works and why the increase takes place.

The MS exists to help Singaporeans set aside enough to meet a basic level of needs in retirement. When CPF members retire, they will receive a monthly payout from this sum of money they have set aside, to support their expenditure then. To achieve this objective, the MS needs to be adjusted to account for inflation and also members’ growing expectations of their quality of life during retirement.

In 2003, the Economic Review Committee (ERC) had recommended that the MS needs to grow in real terms to reach $120,000 (in 2003 dollars) by 2013, so that it is enough to provide for basic retirement needs.    While this target remains unchanged, the nominal amount will have to be adjusted upwards by inflation to ensure that it maintains its real value – so it should be worth as much in today’s dollars as what $120,000 was worth back in 2003.

We have now shifted this target back by two years to 2015 and will spread out the remaining MS increases needed to reach this target, over the coming 4 years.  We made the decision to do so to avoid too large an increase in MS in any one year.

Some of you ask why we continue to raise the MS, despite the fact that only about half of members at age 55 are able to meet it.This is a very valid and common question. For those who can meet the MS, the amount is meant to provide him with monthly payouts that will provide for a member’s basic needs in retirement. If we do not increase the MS in line with inflation, we may not ensure Singaporeans are financially provided for in their retirement years. Of course, I am aware that for a number of Singaporeans, they also do have other sources of savings and support, but we aim for the CPF system to provide a baseline adequacy.

We aim to boost members’ CPF savings to help them meet the MS in several ways.  For instance,

  • we pay an extra 1% interest on members’ CPF balances of up to $60,000.
  • We help low-income members build up their retirement nest through the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme.
  • We help older Singaporeans stay employed through re-employment initiatives and the Special Employment Credit.
  • We are also working on raising wages for low income workers.
  • Staying employed is, in fact, the best way for members to build up their retirement savings.

For those who still fall short of their MS, they may still have their own savings or family to depend on. Depending on their circumstances, we will step in to assist where we can. Some of my residents fall under this category and we have arranged for various forms of assistance to augment their payouts.

When I examined our data, it is actually encouraging to note that despite the rising MS, the percentage of active CPF members meeting their MS at age 55 has improved over the years. In 2011, nearly 1 in 2 CPF members (45%) met their MS, compared to about 2 in 5 members in 2007 (36%). The RA balance at age 55 has consistently been rising as well.  This will continue to improve with each successive cohort, as educational profiles improve and lifetime incomes rise.

Among those starting work now, about 70 to 80 per cent should be able to attain the current level set for the Minimum Sum in cash (adjusted for inflation), by the time they retire, even after they have withdrawn money for a home.

We will continue to review MS regularly to ensure it is not excessive while providing an adequate stream of income during retirement for CPF members.

Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin
Link : Being Retirement Ready  Another change from 1 July – adjusting the Minimum Sum – Tan Chuan Jin

Desperately Seeking Singaporean. Sim Ann says

If you are a Singaporean web developer/designer, well versed in PHP, with 2 to 3 years of commercial experience, my constituent Mr Tan is looking for you.

Mr Tan owns a successful local SME specialising in developing web 2.0 business applications for corporate clients. Business owners like him don’t often walk through the doors at my MPS, but tonight Mr Tan did.

Mr Tan’s company hires 6 locals (including himself), 2 foreigners on S-Pass and 1 foreigner on Employment Pass. His business is growing and he needs to hire two more persons.

One opening is for a Client Account Manager. No problem – of the 89 applications he received, about 80% are Singaporeans. He plans to hire a Singaporean for this role.

The other opening is giving him a headache. He needs a Web Developer/Designer, and he has hardly any Singaporean applicants.

He told me he advertised on 2 well-known online job portals. On one job portal, 43 people applied, amongst whom only 1 was a Singaporean. Unfortunately, the person’s qualification and experience did not match what Mr Tan’s company needed.

On the second job portal, out of 16 applicants thus far, all are foreigners.

He is pessimistic about the prospect of finding a local web developer.

“There are Singaporean job-seekers, but they all want to manage projects,” he told me. “I already have enough project managers. I need someone to actually do the work.”

Is he prepared to train? “My company is prepared to train and groom any local talent we can find,” he said. “We do so even though we know that once they are trained, many Singaporeans job-hop and move on to MNCs.”

This is why he came to seek my support for an appeal to MOM to allow him to hire one more foreign employee on S-Pass.

If the appeal is not successful, he said he may well consider relocating his company to another country in the region.

“Where?” I asked him. Turns out he has already thought it through – Vietnam, Myanmar or the Philippines. He even gave me a succinct analysis of the pros and cons of each.

Mr Tan understands all the arguments why controls on foreign manpower are being tightened. He is a born and bred Singaporean, and doesn’t want his company to move if he can help it. Being a born and bred Singaporean, neither do I. I am also mindful that if his company relocates, this may mean his 5 local employees will have to look for new jobs.

So, if you are a Singaporean web developer/designer, well versed in PHP, with 2 to 3 years of commercial experience, send me your particulars at hbtsimann@gmail.com and I will ask Mr Tan to contact you.

But not foreigners, please. He has more than enough applicants already.

Sim Ann 沈颖    by Sim Ann 沈颖
Link : Desperately Seeking Singaporean

**************************************************************************************

This is a recurrent story amongst SMEs especially. Singaporeans SMEs who employ Singaporeans. Providing employment for Singaporeans to the tune of over 60%, it is important that our SMEs remain not only viable, but successful.

Having access to a diverse workforce remains important even as we slow down growth of the foreign workforce. Not easy striking a balance.

For larger regional and multi-national set ups, it is also similarly important as it is one of the reasons why the companies invest here and why our local companies stay put instead of relocating. By being here, they create local jobs and also secondary jobs in supporting businesses.

Therein lies the tension between having access to foreign labour and reigning in growth of foreign labour numbers.

   Tan Chuan-Jin

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