5 issues Singaporeans want addressed

ABLE: Our Singapore Committee member Chia Yong Yong wants to corect misconceptions that the public may have about the disabled.

AMONG its members is a taxi driver, a polytechnic student, and an artist and host. The inclusion of ordinary Singaporeans in the committee formed to oversee "Our Singapore Conversation" has been lauded as a move which will produce a wider range of views.

The 26-member Our Singapore Committee, headed by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, comprises a diverse group of people, ranging from ministers to academics, as well as representatives of welfare organisations.

The members were invited to join the committee for their individual perspectives and experiences, said Mr Heng last Saturday.

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say noted that the national conversation "will have to be a joint effort" between the Government and the community.

He pointed out that other national-vision exercises, such as Singapore 21 in 1997, led to some concrete outcomes.

Mr Lim urged people to put aside their reservations and "open up their hearts and... minds in a constructive manner so that, together, we can jointly decide what we like about Singapore today". my paper also spoke to non-government representatives in the committee and members of the public to suss out their concerns.

TACKLING HIGH COST OF LIVING

The rising cost of food and housing is worrying, said Mr Ismail Hussein, 49, head of Maybank Singapore's Islamic Banking Unit and a committee member.

"I'm worried about how my children are going to cope," said the father of two boys and a girl aged between 15 and 25.

He is also concerned about the widening income gap, which he describes as very "divisive".

As an example, he cited concerns by cleaners at his workplace that their salaries had decreased from a decade ago.

He said: "For those in the higher income bracket, we have seen our salary grow exponentially upwards but, for the lower-income (group), theirs are stagnant or going south. With rising costs...it's getting tougher for them."

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