National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Kevryn Lim gave an impassioned speech at the party's Circuit Road rally last night, calling for parenthood benefits for single parents and maternity leave for single mothers.
The 26-year-old, herself a single mother, became tearful as she said: "Let us fight for equal rights and leave no Singaporean behind. In the pledge, it says 'based on justice and equality'. These people are also Singaporeans and they should not be discriminated (against)."
Unwed mothers get only half the amount of paid maternity leave as their married counterparts, and can apply for a Housing Board flat only when they are 35. They are not eligible for tax rebates or Baby Bonus.
Ms Lim, who is separated from her Australia-born Singaporean husband, has a 2.5-year-old son.
Speaking in Cantonese and then in English, she described one unwed mother she met on a walkabout who was not eligible for the Baby Bonus and was scraping by on $1,000 a month, while another resident, a single father, was still sleeping on his parents' sofa.
Said Ms Lim: "At the National Day Rally, when (Prime Minister) Lee talked about Baby Bonus, maternity leave, paternity leave, he never mentioned single-parent families. Why are they left out? They also hold a Singaporean passport!"
She went on: "I would like to ask the Government to also give 16 weeks of maternity leave to single mothers. Single parents should also enjoy Baby Bonuses. There should be parenthood benefits, tax benefits for these single parents as well."
Ms Lim, who is part of the NSP team fielded in Sembawang GRC, was the ninth out of 11 speakers at the rally for MacPherson SMC, which is seeing a three-cornered fight between the NSP's Cheo Chai Chen, Ms Tin Pei Ling from the People's Action Party and Mr Bernard Chen of the Workers' Party.
Mr Cheo had come under fire last week for saying Ms Tin's weakness was that she was a new mother. He later said he meant it as a joke.
Speaking in Mandarin at the rally, he also pressed the issue of supporting single mothers. "We are seeing more and more of these families and the Government should pay attention to this problem."
The other speakers reiterated concerns such as the influx of foreign workers and the withdrawal age for Central Provident Fund savings.
NSP secretary-general Lim Tean, 50, who is part of the team contesting Tampines GRC, called on the Government to release statistics on how many Singaporeans are displaced from their jobs by foreign workers each year.
This article was first published on September 8, 2015.
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