Parliament: The debate in 2 minutes


Three Cabinet ministers spoke on Day Four of the debate on the President's address. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean talked about the public service, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen spoke on the recommendations of a committee to strengthen national service (NS) and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin touched on the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

Earlier NS start for poly students

Polytechnic students students are likely to start their NS a month earlier than usual, in May or August next year, said Dr Ng.

Those who enlist in September and go to local universities at the end of their two-year NS in August will not need to disrupt earlier, he added.

Implementing the NS recommendations is expected to cost about $4.5 billion over the next decade.

Dr Ng also said about 500 men a year - over 2 per cent of enlistees - are exempted from NS due to mental health problems. On the progress of Malays, he said soldiers' deployments and promotions are based on aptitude and merit.

Craft 'easily understood' policies

Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) urged the Government to craft policies that are more easily understood, in tune with social psychology, and not so onerous on the majority, just for the sake of preventing a minority from gaming the system.

Focus on dialogue, engagement

Draw fewer boundaries for civic discourse and learn new instincts focused on dialogue and engagement, Nominated MP Janice Koh urged the Government.

She argued that this will break the tendency to discourage discussion of sensitive issues, and will make Singapore more socially cohesive.

Improved CPF Life scheme

Details of the improved CPF Life annuity scheme will be ready around August, when the Prime Minister delivers his National Day Rally speech, Minister Tan said.

As for Workers' Party MP Png Eng Huat's suggestion of an option for CPF Life payouts to start earlier at 60, instead of 63 now, he said the more is drawn out earlier, the smaller the payout.

Mr Png also argued for the Government to maximise CPF returns so that the burden to meet the higher CPF Minimum Sum every year does not fall solely on individuals.

Leaders with good feel of ground

Singapore needs the best politicians to avoid public servants running rings around them, said Mr Teo. The best outcome: able political leaders with a good feel of the ground, working with able public officers to develop policies with the country's long-term future in mind, he added.

No room for crony practices

Singapore is often ranked the least corrupt country, and has no room for crony practices, said Mr David Ong (Jurong GRC). Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam had said Economist magazine's crony-capitalism index ranked Singapore fifth among 23 countries.

Older women need more help

Women here live longer than men and need more help when they retire, said Parliamentary Secretary (Social and Family Development) Low Yen Ling.

Today is the final day of the debate.

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