The Good, The Bad and The Productivity Budget Debate and Committee of Supply Speeches


You probably don’t care about this but after the Singapore Budget is announced, members of parliament (MP) come together to share their thoughts on the budget and pose questions/air grievances/complain to various ministries about their current and future initiatives.

This snarky debate and complain session goes on for a couple of weeks. Because we know you’re busy working adults with no time to read everything that MPs have said, we’ve picked out the good, the bad, and the ugly productivity moments for your reading pleasure.

The Good

Kuik Shiao-yin – NMP

I watched Ms Kuik deliver her speech on TV, and you wouldn’t believe what happened next…

I had a headache from her striped blazer.

Fashion faux pas aside, her speech was passionate and eloquently delivered. Some might say she’s naive and idealistic, but hey, someone’s got to be the dreamer in this stadium of realists right?

You can catch her full speech here on her Facebook Page.

TL;DR Our national strategy must be aligned to our culture. Kill our ‘kiasu’ culture. Give unwed mothers the same benefits and acceptance.

Chia Yong Yong – NMP

Ms Chia is the president of the SPD, formerly known as the Society for the Physically Disabled, and a lawyer. She was diagnosed with peroneal muscular atrophy when she was 15 and relies on a wheelchair to get around. She uses dictation software for work as her hands have grown limp. Her touching speech described how it was like to be in the shoes of someone with a disability and called for a national campaign to reach out to people with disabilities, to educate people about disabilities that might not yet be obvious.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin published her full speech in a Facebook post.

Do read and share Yong Yong's speech in Parliament yesterday. A very apt message at the start for our Enabling Masterplan 3.#InclusiveSG #InclusiveSingapore

Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday, 4 April 2016

The Bad

Denise Phua – People’s Action Party (PAP) MP

Denise Phua does a lot of work in the area of autism, having a son who was diagnosed with autism. But that was forgotten when she said that “pre-riot crowds have returned to Little India. Congregations of such high density are walking time-bombs and public disorder incidents waiting to happen. It is important that we do not take our eyes off this matter lest we want history to repeat itself.” She then suggested that they fence off areas for her residents. *GASP*

Her choice of words were disappointing and has garnered much criticism amongst netizens.

I recently made a short speech under the MHA budget debate. The speech is appended here. I have no intention to…

Posted by Denise Phua Lay Peng on Thursday, 7 April 2016

Koh Poh Koon – PAP MP

The son of Punggol came under fire when responding to PAP MP Joan Pereira on financial assistance from HDB to flat owners who have fallen on hard times.

Ms Pereira asked whether HDB would consider providing financial help to owners who have taken bank loans.

That’s when he said “Mdm Speaker, for flat owners who have financial difficulties, the banks would usually alert HDB when the flat owners start to default on their payments. In general, HDB will assist flat owners who are in difficulties to seek help from social support agencies by recommending that they get the job, if they are out of a job, or to provide them with temporary financial support through the SSOs.

HDB, however, is not a bank and is not able to offer personal loans to flat owners, although we can help them with restructuring their HDB mortgage loans.”

It seemed that Ms Pereira was asking if the HDB could either help owners pay for their homes or loan them money to pay for their instalments, of which Dr Koh is right to say that the HDB is not a bank! Yet for some reason everyone seems to think that the HDB will immediately ask you to sell your house if you’ve no money for instalments. Do read carefully before you make a fuss.

Sylvia Lim – Workers’ Party (WP) MP

Not so much bad, but leaning more towards sad. Ms Lim spoke about introducing redundancy insurance to help workers. The idea of redundancy insurance is not new. It was previously brought up by fellow WP MP Leon Perara, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Singapore First Party (SFP). PAP MP Patrick Tay’s own take on this issue was that industries that were retrenching should consider providing more comprehensive assistance to affected workers and the assistance rendered could act as a form of unemployment insurance. Is someone running out of ideas? Also makes me wonder if insurers would be keen to provide such insurance.

See her full speech in this link.

The Productivity

Why productivity? Because everything is about productivity these days. Productivity too high, oh no how to maintain! Productivity too low, oh no no more SG100! Yes, productivity.

Zainal Sapari – PAP MP

Mr Zainal has been championing for low income workers in the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) for many years. Known for his outspoken personality, he asked that the government look for ways to close the income gap, make the payment of annual wage supplements and increments mandatory for the low wage industry, customise SkillsFuture for low income workers, and encourage buildings be designed with a ‘productivity mindset’ so to enable a cost-effective approach in procuring cleaning, security and landscape services where less manpower would be needed. See, productivity.

My budget speechSet target for higher real wage increase for low-wage worksIntroductionMadam Speaker, thank you for…

Posted by Zainal Bin Sapari on Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Heng Chee How – PAP MP

Speaking up for mature or older workers, Mr Heng said that employers should not neglect the continued training and development of their mature employees, they should continue to upgrade them and tap on their value. The premise here is that upgrading workers will improve the overall productivity of a company.

Heng Chee How
(Photo from Heng Chee How’s Facebook Page)

Read his speech in this link.

Have you witnessed your parents experiencing pre-retirement jitters? Worrying about income, boredom and sometimes dementia? Well good news, the re-employment age will be increased from 65 to 67 AND the law allowing a wage cut at the age of 60 will be removed. So if you’re 65 and you want to continue working, technically you can now do so at your last drawn salary.

Desmond Choo – PAP MP

Remember when you first graduated and had no idea what to do, where to go, what the hell was happening? Desmond Choo remembers.

Mr Choo asked for an integrated approach to help young workers develop their careers. This could be through career counselling services, or expanding the apprenticeship system to better train young workers. He also called for a system of continual upgrading saying that “We can create an ecosystem of continual upgrading that is truly win-win-win. In preparing workers for the future, a tripartite partnership is and will be an important catalyst.” Upgrading = more productivity.

Singapore Parliament Updates from 4th April 2016.I proposed two initiatives to better facilitate employment for…

Posted by Desmond Choo on Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Article contributed by reader Jai Ho


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