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29 Aug 2019
Movement for change
Suggestion View - 419
Take immediate action to rectify the dysfunctional policies

Singapore operates a dysfunctional system. The cost of living and cost of housing is too high. Most people rely on grants and subsidies to meet these high cost. 

For example, many young people will not be able to afford the high cost of new flats (given the strange name of BTO flats) unless they are able to get government grants. Many still need the help of their parents to meet the down payments. 

This means that foreigners will not be able to afford these flats either. In the recent civil unrest in Hong Kong, many young people want to migrate to other countries. They have to bypass Singapore, as the cost of housing is too high. They opt to go to Malaysia, Thailand or Taiwan. 

The cost of child care is astronomical. Most parents rely on subsidies from the government to meet these costs. Permanent residents and foreigners working in Singapore, including those who have stayed here for many years, find these costs to be unaffordable. Many have to leave Singapore to raise a family. 

Permanent residents who have worked in Singapore for many years and are deemed to be compatible are invited to become Singapore citizens. This will allow them to have access to the grants and other subsidies, to ameliorate the high cost of living. 

Many have opted not to accept this invitation, in spite of its financial attractions. Some decline due to loyalty to their home countries. But I suspect that many decline because their sons will be liable to serve National Service. They consider the cost to be too high.

Clearly, we now have a dysfunctional system. What can be done to address the defects? Here are my suggestions.

a) Reduce full time National Service to 1 year and reservist duty to 3 years. This will be adequate to prepare our young people to participate in national defense. The reduced obligation would be more acceptable.

b) Reduce the cost of housing, child care and education to all citizens and permanent residents. Make it attractive for citizens to raise children and for suitable immigrants to become permanent residents and in due course, to become citizens. The improved conditions will reduce the number of citizens who emigrate to other countries. 

Singapore has the potential to be an attractive place for citizens and immigrants to live in and raise a family. However, we have to change the dysfunctional policies that work against this goal.

Tan Kin Lian 

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