ON THE AGENDA
Parliament began its first day of the debate on the President's Address yesterday. Altogether, 19 MPs raised issues ranging from Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to hiring Singaporeans for white-collar jobs.
Sparks flew between PAP and Workers' Party MPs over the President's call for constructive politics and the perceived status of Malays here.
Call for higher CPF interest rate
Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Nominated MP Tan Su Shan asked the Government to help citizens earn a higher interest rate on their CPF savings, amid their unhappiness with the increasing Minimum Sum they need to set aside for retirement.
Ideas included a government-led investment plan that has higher interest rates and factors in inflation.
S'poreans first for PME jobs
Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) wanted firms to be made to give qualified Singaporeans priority over foreigners for professional, managerial and executive jobs.
She also asked for a review of property cooling measures to enable more Singaporeans to upgrade their homes. For instance, she suggested collecting additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) upon the property's completion rather than upfront.
More pathways for poly, ITE grads
Polytechnic and ITE students desire to earn a degree or diploma right after graduation. But degrees alone cannot guarantee job security, said Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah.
The Government, she said, will open up more pathways, such as upgrading through continuing education and industry certifications.
Debate on 'constructive politics'
WP chief Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) said his party supports the President's call for constructive politics but a mature democracy requires inculcating political values from young, building a political culture with no bullying or fear, and setting up impartial institutions that people trust.
Ms Indranee Rajah (Tanjong Pagar GRC) responded by saying constructive politics is not merely a rhetorical term but has an impact on people's lives, and implied that the WP had flip-flopped on its position on issues, and lacked integrity in running its town council, which Mr Low denied.
Questions on Malay-Muslim loyalty
WP's Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap (Aljunied GRC) asked the Government to curb the view that its policies question the loyalty of Malay-Muslims in Singapore, and to set up a committee to find solutions. His remarks, citing a community study last year, prompted Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education and Manpower) Hawazi Daipi and Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) to press him for his own position.
Mr Faisal said progress has been made and he was only reflecting ground sentiments.
'Do more to communicate policies'
The Government needs to do more to communicate its policies. If not, it risks people not knowing the benefits, or fuelling conspiracy theories and misinformation, MPs warned.
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